Shades of red, orange and yellow danced around the creature; its final hours marked by smoke, dust and burning embers blemishing the skies above. What was once loud cries have now been silenced and all that is left is but a heap of ash, a few spots of gold and a dancing trail of smoke. However, what seemed lost wasn’t quite; as from the ashes burnt light. A form began to breathe life and once again this being extended its wings with all its might.
If you are familiar with Greek mythology or been a fan of the ‘Age of Mythology’ series (as was I), chances are you might have already guessed this mythical creature – The Phoenix, the proud logo of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery and for good reason too…
The ‘Golden Triangle’, a pseudo name given to the ‘Liberties Area’ at the heart of Dublin was home to over 37 distilleries, one of which was set up by Walter Teeling in 1782. By the 19th century, Irish whiskey and those from Dublin in particular reached epitome status with huge demand coming in from Europe and much of the Americas. Unfortunately the early half of the 20th century turned spoil sport with the advent of World War I, Prohibition in the United States, Trade disputes between Britain and Ireland and Civil wars in and around the region which ultimately left only two distilleries standing – The Midleton and The Bushmills.
However all that changed when John Teeling, father to the latest generation (Jack and Stephen) felt the need to instil change after writing his PHD thesis at Harvard on the decline for Irish whiskey – the Cooley Distillery was hence founded. When Jim Beam took over (roughly 2012), Jack his son made a deal with Beam to sell him and his brother sufficient amounts of aged Cooley whiskey that would help them setup their own distillery. And thus the Teeling Distillery was born mid May 2014, while officially it was made public around a year later.
Not only did this distillery bring the art of distilling whiskey back to the heart of Dublin, it did so a stone’s throw away from where Walter first setup his. And so the Phoenix goes well with how the distillery had evolved and how it rose when all that was left was empty buildings, bottles and stills.
The Teeling Small Batch is the distilleries flagship, a blend of grain and malt whiskies, non-chill filtered. Like most Irish whiskies one might think this too is triple distilled; and it is, but not all of its aged stock would be. The Cooley distillery (on the contrary) used to double distill theirs and hence much of the old Teeling stock would in all certainty be twice distilled. The newer produce however would have been distilled sequentially in each of the three stills before being aged.
Though not verified, there are several forums online mentioning the use of 4 year old grain and 7 year old malts in concocting the mix. The distillers themselves have taken a lot of pride in determining the proportions, making it from a blend of relatively small number of barrels matured in ex- bourbon casks; this is then further allowed to finish for another 6 months in previously filled rum barrels.
Eye: Pale gold
Nose: Sweet and fragrant with vanilla, maple syrup and hints of honey. Woody oak and dried straw; traces of sponge cake with pineapple, oranges and cherry. Spicy black pepper, and cardamom hovers in and around the foreground.
Taste : Malty and sweet like stewed fruits and molasses. Definite grain with some woody influence, spice and a fruity after taste.
Finish: Sweet, dry with a medium finish.
The Teeling is light, fragrant and crisp as is the case with most Irish whiskies. However, on the tongue the texture seems a bit more viscous and rounded than you would imagine. The spice emphasises itself throughout the nose, while the sweetness is not only dynamic but brings with it a lot more depth – thank you Rum Finish! This extra acquaintance with the rum barrels has surely paid off, as it adds in a certain dash that makes this tipple worth a try. If I had to critic, I would point to the grain which dilutes this otherwise yummy rummy-ness!
The Small Batch is not only being a great mixer, but also one that can be sampled neat! Slainte!