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.

Lowland Grains: North British 20yo 1994 & Girvan Patent Still

ramblings of Andy

I hardly had the best start to grain whisky, choking back a measure of vicious Haig Club, confirming my rookie suspicions that grain is all filler for blends, like sawdust in the meat stew at a stern 1950s primary school. Any such thoughts were soon dispelled by the glorious Invergordon 43yo from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, enjoyed by myself and everyone else fortunate enough to be included in their 5th Birthday Tweet Tasting (described here in full by OCD Whisky aka Sorren Krebs). 

So, as I lifted the lid on my Drinks By The Dram Lowland Whisky Tasting Set, received as a kind Christmas gift from my little brother, I was drawn to the two grain whiskies in the set - North British 20yo 1994 Single Cask and Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength. Would I be any the wiser to the charms of grain after trying these out?

North British 20yo 1994 Single Cask (51.7% ABV)

North British has been producing grain whisky at its Edinburgh distillery right next to Heart's Tynecastle Park stadium since 1887, to meet a growing demand for blending grain. This Master of Malt release was bottled at cask strength in a limited batch of only 115 bottles and went into refill bourbon casks at the end of 1994. It's sweet and herbal on the nose, totally tropical and slightly spicy on the palate and a medium-length candy floss finish. Full bottles are discontinued (and I'm not totally sure I was convinced enough to buy in quantity) but can still be found in 3CL samples for about a fiver and is worth that punt certainly.

Girvan Patent Still Proof Strength (57.1% ABV)

Girvan is William Grant & Sons grain distillery, and it is used in the production of many high-selling and a few very fine blends. The distillery can produce up 15 million litres a year, mostly for blending, and single grain bottlings are released by Girvan themselves and several independent bottlers, generally aged for 20+ years. The nose is sweet and despite the claims of the bottler, quite spirited given the ABV. The palate is a superb pick n' mix of citrus, tropical fruit and rich sweetness with a long, peppery finish. 

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All in all, these are two very fine grain whiskies and the number of 'Good Grains' I've tried are fast outnumbering the 'Bad Grains'. I'd be happy to drink a dram of the North British, happier still with a bottle of the Girvan but I'd be tempted most of all to dig around for another £30 to pay for the next (please let there be a next...) batch of Boutique-y Invergordon.

As I said during the Tweet Tasting, to universal digital groans, this kind of whisky is really grain on me. You have to say it in a Scottish accent, you see...