With the proliferation of new whiskeys from everywhere around the globe, it’s lovely to see the old traditions come back as well. But even old traditions can introduce a new, distinctive and original taste profile. Here’s one to try: Teeling Irish Whiskey Rum Cask. There’s no mistaking it for anything else.
Teeling Whiskey Company is the creation—or perhaps we should say re-creation—by two young men with bold ambitions. Jack and Stephen Teeling are the scions of a distilling tradition in Ireland going back to the 1700s, and in more modern times the Teelings developed the famous Cooley Distillery. When Cooley was sold to an international firm, the Teelings began their new Dublin whiskey house to great acclaim and unhushed expectations. For now Teeling uses sourced whiskey; but their still is in the works and should be producing their own whiskey soon.
Few people remember that in its whiskey heyday, Dublin was replete with whiskey distillers. One of those Dublin distillers was Walter Teeling. Now his descendants are bringing back the Liberties area of Dublin into whiskey prominence once again.
The Teeling Flagship Small Batch Rum Cask Finished Irish Whiskey is an impressive whiskey, marrying the best of two different spirit traditions, Irish Whiskey and Caribbean Rum.
The rum industry has benefited enormously over the years from the American bourbon whiskey practice of using only new charred American white oak barrels for its maturation, thus providing an enormous resource to the rest of the spirit world. After all, what do you do when you can’t use your barrels again? Easy: sell them to other producers with less stringent requirements, such as Scotch whisky, rum, and tequila producers.
Teeling takes it one step further. Not only do they use American oak casks for the maturation of their fine whiskeys, they also import barrels once used in Caribbean rums to add a finishing touch.
And what a brilliant step it is. The clean, bright blend of whiskey, light, sweet grain mingled with a high content of malt whiskey, is infinitely mellowed and rounded by the rum cask influence; this is vibrant whiskey mellowed to a gentle warm glow of pleasure and touched with the sweet molasses richness and tangy spice of rum. Flor de Caña Rum, to be precise; and that, my friends, is pretty good provenance!
Irish Whiskey and Flor de Caña barrels: this is, as Shakespeare said, “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
In addition to the American barrels and the influence of new world rum, there’s a third American influence on the Irish Teeling: the acknowledged “whiskey whiz” of Teeling is an American: Alex Chasko, who got his start in micro-brewing in Oregon, brings his expertise and unique perspective to the firm.
Teeling is one of the most distinctive whiskeys to emerge from the me-too business in some years, and its first modern offering is unique, Irish Whiskey with a different twist. With a dash of Irish cunning and what one suspects is a loving theft of and homage to the Scots behemoth of flavored single malts, the Rum Cask is unmistakable in its profile, and unequaled in its pleasure quotient. But rather than the Scots predilection for port, sherry and madeira barrels, Teeling selected a particularly rich and spicy Nicaraguan rum.
The result is a delicious and complex intermingling of flavors. There’s a smooth, silky texture wrapped around natural vanilla bean, crème caramel, toasty wood, tart citrusy liveliness, and tangy spices—think Allspice, or what the Jamaicans call pimento dram—followed by deeper flavors of toffee and chocolate, with a touch of heat from the 46% abv (92 Proof) bottling strength that gives it some authority and a bit of black pepper dust in the finish.
Old traditions and new initiatives: that’s what makes Teeling an exciting new/old player in the world whiskey market, the ability to make a stunning, delicious, unique taste profile based on an old familiar favorite.
Irish whiskey and rum barrels. It’s unusual and inspired. And it makes for a good dram of whiskey.
Teeling Irish Whiskey is imported to the U.S. by Infinium Spirits.