Ireland was once the world's dominant whiskey producer, but years of decline saw it almost disappear.
According to the Irish Whiskey Association, in 2013, there were four distilleries in Ireland producing and selling Irish whisky. By August 2017, the number of operational whiskey distilleries in Ireland had increased to 18 with plans for another 16 in the works.
It is no secret that Irish whiskey is experiencing a resurgence and growing traction, as well as a fascination from its drinkers.
Last week, we were introduced to a new kid on the Irish whiskey block, Teeling Whiskey, which opened its distillery in 2015 and is making its mark on the international stage.
The team hosted a virtual tasting of their range which includes their small-batch, single grain, and single malt whiskeys.
Founded by Jack and Stephen Teeling, and head distiller Alex Chasko, Teeling Whiskey has received more than 130 international awards so far.
We were joined by one of the founders Jack, owner of Whisky Brothers Marc Pendlebury, and Bacardi local trade ambassador Luke Knox. Things kicked with Jack giving us a brief history of their family distillery sharing the reasoning for the location of the distillery and the fact that, in 125 years, Teeling is the first new distillery in Dublin.
Jack said their approach to making Teeling whiskey was based on using the delicate base of Irish whiskey as the perfect canvas upon which to layer flavour and character.
“Varying the time, style, and the number of barrels used during the maturation process adds to the subtlety and complexity of flavour we pride ourselves in. For example, the extra maturation we give our small-batch whiskey in ex-rum barrels adds a beautiful and unique dry raisin character to elevate the taste profile people normally expect from Irish whiskey.
“After putting all this care and attention into what goes into our whiskey, we don’t like to take anything out. We don’t chill filter our whiskey before bottling, leaving as much of the body, character, and richness in the bottle. We bring our whiskey from cask strength to our signature ABV of 46%, allowing us to bottle with no chill filtration, maintaining the true natural characteristics of all our whiskeys,” he said.
Neat or on the rocks? I used to hear people ask the question without knowing what it meant. It wasn't until I had my first sip that I realised how important these words are when it comes to whiskey. Whiskey the perfect drink. At least it is, for me. And I prefer it on the rocks.
At the Teeling Whiskey tasting, I was taken on a journey of single-malt perfection. I could smell a touch of citrus fruits and sauvignon blanc. There’s a warm undertone of ginger and vanilla in the mouth, and the texture is impressive and all in all, it’s exceptionally well-balanced. It’s a very tasty whiskey.
The small batch is an easy-drinking whiskey that has fruity notes and is smooth with hints of vanilla. Moving on to the single malt, it has unique berry notes with a more pronounced vanilla note and perfectly balances sweetness with it. One of the best whiskey I’ve tasted in a while that manages to be complex and a joy to drink at the same time. It is what you would expect from a traditional Irish whiskey.
With a more depth-filled flavour profile with hints of spice and citrus coming through. It is for the Irish whiskey connoisseur and is something that is meant to be enjoyed neat, slowly.
The future of Irish whiskey.
Jack said that for a long time, Irish whiskey was dominated by just a few brands and distilleries but, as an industry, they have been going through a revolution with the large increase in the numbers of new distilleries emerging.
He said this increased competition with various approaches to making Irish whiskey would, hopefully, allow the category to respond to changing whiskey drinker's needs and wants, to ensure Irish whiskey stays relevant and interesting for whiskey drinkers for many years to come.