One of my last trips prior to the pandemic was to Dublin. During my time there, I heard a lot of talk from locals about Teeling, the first distillery to operate in Dublin after 125 years without one. Of course, I had to take a tour and see the distillery for myself and became a pretty big fan. When I recently saw a bottle of their Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey at my local liquor store, I jumped at the chance to get the next-best thing to an actual trip to Dublin — and to share the wealth with the 31 Whiskey readership, naturally.
The Teeling name was first associated with a Dublin distillery in 1782, when Walter Teeling opened a small operation in the Liberties area of Dublin. At its peak, there were 37 distilleries operating within the city, most of which were concentrated in this area (which became known as the “golden triangle” for the beautiful liquid it produced).
Eventually, this distillery was purchased by William Jameson (related to the more famous Irish whiskey legend John Jameson) to expand his much larger Marrowbone Lane Distillery. The facility was once considered one of the “big four” distilleries in the city, but with the economic downturn of the 1920’s and the introduction of prohibition in the United States there simply wasn’t enough demand left to support their business. After trying to struggle through for a few years, the facility (including the Teeling distillery) would eventually close in 1923.
In the late 1980’s, John Teeling, a descendant of Walter’s, opened up another facility called Cooley Distillery. This is where the current owners of the new Teeling Distillery come into the picture – Jack and Stephen were introduced to the process by their father John. They ran the Cooley Distillery until 2011 when it was sold to Beam Suntory. Not wanting to fully exit the whiskey space, during negotiations of the sale of their facility, the Teelings were able to reserve 16,000 casks of aged whiskey for themselves — a supply which would be used to jumpstart the new Teeling Whiskey in 2012.
The current distillery was opened in 2015, located within the Dublin city limits and making Teeling Whiskey the first new distillery to open in Dublin in almost 125 years.
The Teeling Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey tries to pay homage to the Dublin distilleries of old, and uses a mash bill that is “uniquely Irish”: 50% malted barley and 50% unmalted barley. The malted barley has been allowed to partially germinate, naturally providing sugar and starch for the distillation process. The unmalted barley has to be cooked, which allows the starches to convert to sugar. The resulting wort is then added to the wooden washback tubs where the mixture is heated and yeast begins to convert sugars to alcohol.
The product is then added to a pot still, where it is distilled three times in order to control the flavor of the spirit.
For finishing, this spirit is aged in new American oak, ex-bourbon, or ex-sherry barrels. For all Irish whiskey, the spirit must be aged for at least 3 years. There is no age statement on the Single Pot Still bottle, though, so we don’t know for sure if they aged beyond that minimum 3 years.
The bottle is fairly standard, with some rather uninspiring packaging. It’s a fairly standard sized round bottle, and the neck has a small bulge to help make controlling your pour easier. The bottle is capped with a wood and man-made cork stopper.
The glass is black – leaving no room to see the spirit within (nor any ability to know when you need to buy more). Opaque bottles, usually dark green, are common with Irish whiskeys, but this feels aggressively opaque.
The label is one the part of the bottle that I really appreciate. They really lean into their status as the first distillery back to Dublin. The phrase “Spirit of Dublin” is the first text on the label — even standing above the name of the distillery. The design is pretty minimal – just informative text and a pretty cool logo of a Phoenix that is emerging from a pot still. I won’t fault them for the larger label, since it’s not like we can see into this opaque bottle anyway (and aesthetically, the way the baby-blue label pops against the dark bottle almost makes me appreciate that opaque glass… almost).
The first thing I notice when I sniff my glass is the scent of Sherry from the aging process, followed by notes of grape and fresh apple with a slight nuttiness. Rounding everything out is a rich maltiness, like the smell you get when you walk past a bakery.
Once you take a sip, though, the first thing you notice is a sweetness that wasn’t really present on the nose. It’s a rich brown sugar flavor, and it pairs well with the apple (an aroma that delivers in the taste as well). That malty aroma manifests itself in the taste as well — it’s like notes of fresh dinner rolls, that linger with a hint of spice.
Adding some ice to a spirit tends to cause more delicate flavors to close up and take a back seat, but this whiskey actually holds up very well to an ice cube. It becomes much more fruit forward, with the apple, grape, and even a slight honey flavor becoming much more prominent.
I’m pretty impressed with the way this whiskey has held up to the ice, actually. It almost reminds me of a fresh dutch apple pie. (Tell me that doesn’t sound delicious).
This is my new go-to Irish whiskey. The Single Pot Still product has great flavor, whether you prefer it neat or ice. And while I’d love to be able to see past an opaque bottle, it’s really only a problem when I run out (or not, if I always keep a backup bottle handy!)
And it’s not just a solid product – there is a real story and history behind this bottle. The distillery itself may be relatively new in the scope of the whiskey world, but the Teeling family has a long history of making whiskey in Dublin, and it’s fantastic to see this legacy being carried on and passed down among generations again (as seen in the cask photo above, Jack and Stephen Teeling have even gifted their children with their own cask barreled on their birthday – now that is one hell of a birthday present!)
|Teeling Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey|
Produced By: TeelingProduction Location: Ireland
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $55.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
Skip the common green bottle, and grab this one instead.