Teeling Taster Set - St Patrick's Day 2019

Earlier this month we were lucky enough to receive a taster set of Teeling Whiskey in the post to review on Twitter on St Patrick’s Day. The drams were shared out between Andy and Stu, with the Small Batch blend going to Andy and the Single Malt/Single Grain samples left with Stu.

The Teeling Distillery on Dublin’s banks of the Liffey River have spearheaded the resurgence in Irish whiskey production, the first new distillery to open in the Irish capital for 125 years. Although the Teeling family involvement in the whiskey business spans back to 1792, the new city centre distillery under the management of brothers Jack and Stephen opened in 2015. Along with the core range sampled in this review, they also produce two Brabazon finish malts and a Revival and Vintage collection.

Teeling Small Batch, 46% ABV

Andy let the side down by arriving late to the Twitter tasting (sometimes a 3-year old’s bedtime tantrum just can’t wait) but he soon poured, opened up and tucked into this blend. To give this blend a unique edge, once blended from select casks the whiskey is given some extra maturation time in ex-rum casks. Here are Andy’s “tasting notes”:

Nose: Toffee, malt and banana on the nose with the hint of something darker and spicier from that rum cask finish

Palate: The 46% ABV is appreciated on the palate and it has all the hallmarks of Irish whiskey with dark spice. This is the goth teenager of the range, loitering outside George’s St Arcade no doubt.

Finish: The heat and spice fade away on the finish, leaving a nice trail of nuttiness, banana bread and treacle pudding. Slainte!

Single Grain, 46% ABV

Moving on to Stu who started with the single grain, here are his thoughts. The Single Grain is fully matured in Californian red wine casks and like all Teeling whiskies, bottled with no chill filtration.

Nose: It’s always the nose that captivates me on a single grain… and this doesn’t let me down. Instant hit of honeycomb. It’s light, fresh (lavender maybe?) green fruits to reflect the country’s colours. Demerara sugar. Bit of time to open up and it gets quite earthy/grassy!

Palate: Quite subtle on the palate, the honey remains, the alcohol isn’t too big on this one at 46%, so it’s light and easy, with lots of sweetness.

Finish: It tingles for a while on the tongue with a bit of honey and earth, but the flavours fade fairly quickly. Like St Patrick’s Day itself, it’s over all to quickly… but it still leaves a positive impression, unlike the hangovers!

Single Malt, 46% ABV

Last but not least, the Single Malt. This expression is a vatting of whisky distilled as far back as 1991 and matured in five different wine casks (Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon). Stu’s consummate professionalism abandoned him somewhat at this stage, as his lubricated fingers (stop sniggering at the back!) let the sample bottle fall into the dram. Not one to let minor calamity worry him, he soldiered on with the tasting notes.

Nose: Ah that’s the stuff! Spiced chocolate, apple juice, and a similar grape note to the single grain. Some rich unsmoked tobacco in there too.

Palate: Unlike those stumbling out of the bars after too many pints of Guinness tonight... this is a well balanced palate, with a nice amount of malt, fruity sweetness, and peppery spice. Very enjoyable!

Finish: Sweet and lingering, like malt loaf with a nice chunk of butter on there! Very nice indeed.

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So there you have it, our round-up of Teeling’s core range was both a delight and a joy to us on a fine St Patrick’s Day evening. Thanks to Teeling Whiskey and Drinks By The Dram for providing the samples. Get in touch on Twitter if you have tried any other Teeling’s that have knocked your shamrock socks off and stay tuned for more podcasts very soon.

Glen Moray Elgin Classic Sherry Cask Finish

- Ramblings of Andy

At the Whisky Lounge York Whisky Festival in October, we were treated to a special Glen Moray Sherry Finish from 1994 by Sorren Krebs a.k.a @ocdwhisky. You can listen to our round table tasting in our latest podcast episode.

In recent years, the brand is perhaps more often seen on supermarket shelves in the guise of the "Elgin Classic" range, which comes in bourbon cask, peated, port, chardonnay and sherry finish forms. The range, launched in 2014, retails at somewhere around the £22-£26 mark (a little more for the port finish) so it's actually only a handful of coins more expensive than the standard range of blends. In fact, until 2008 most of the whisky produced at Glen Moray was used in blends so it's impressive to have converted from blend producer to a wide range of respected single malts in less than a decade.

I've tried the bourbon cask expression previously which I found to be a little sweet but impressively floral for a budget malt, and I'd heard even better things about the sherry cask finish, not least from Sorren's blog on the matter. It's fair to say the cost benefit analysis on buying a bottle to test out didn't take long and you get a pretty nicely packaged bottle of malt with change from three tenners.

On the nose, it doesn't perhaps "pop" the way a really good sherry finish whisky might but it's got the dark caramel, dried fruits and hint of sweet spice you would look for. The palate is quite slow to begin with but soon washes in on a wave of dark chocolate, ginger snaps and a hint of oak char. The finish is medium length and the sweet spice is what lingers.

Throughout the podcast and occasional blog reviews, I've always tried my best to separate the price of the whisky and its merits as a dram, but from time to time a whisky is so reasonably, or indeed over-priced, that it would be ridiculous not to comment. This is a bottle of whisky that represents breathtaking value for money, I've had sherry cask finish whiskies that triple the price from respected distilleries that had less character about them. 

My recommendation for this whisky is to buy a bottle (try not to giggle with glee at the checkout) and keep it on the shelf to re-visit from time to time. It will serve as both an enjoyable dram and a valuable reminder that good whisky doesn't have to break the bank. It should perhaps also serve as a warning to many other distillers that decent, affordable NAS malt is out there - and you can't fool whisky drinkers.