Type: Single malt
Once upon a time Ireland was the world’s leading producer of whiskey (which the Irish spell with an “e”). Then hard times hit. England closed its doors to Irish whiskey after the Irish won their independence in the Irish War of Independence which lasted from 1919 to 1921. The United States era of Prohibition from 1920 to 1933 meant that even Americans could no longer legally buy Irish whiskey, and so within the space of about a decade Irish whiskey lost its two most important export markets. The Scots were also nipping at the heels of many Irish distilleries by making whisky that many around the globe found quite palatable – the more approachable blended whisky, made from softer grain whisky using the Coffey still. This still allowed a whisky maker to produce lots of whisky very quickly, but it was an invention shunned by the Irish who preferred to stick with pot stills to make whisky. Brands such as Johnnie Walker soon dominated the globe, and soon after Prohibition ended and the Americans were allowed to drink again (assuming, of course, the law abiding masses abstained to begin with!) Scotland was the world’s leading source of whisky that could meet the demand of the newly awakened American market. That whisky even became known as “Scotch”. Even James Bond developed a fondness for it, and Irish whiskey was very much in the shadows of Scotch. Until now. Brands of Irish whiskey such as Jamesons and Bushmills have however gained considerable global market share in what appears to be a rebirth of Irish whiskey appreciation, and this whiskey renaissance also brings to light of some the lesser known distilleries that ply their trade on the Emerald Isle. Once such distillery is Teeling.
Teeling produce a number of expressions, but in this post Malt Mileage reviews the Teeling 21 year old. This particular whiskey was matured in bourbon barrels and then finished in Saturenne barrels for 12 months.
On the nose mild perfumed soap combines with apricot jam, butter menthol cough drops, caramel, honey, oregano and rosemary herb bread, anise seed and sweet ethanol often found in a cleanly distilled white rum. There is an underlying woodiness about this whisky, which sits beneath the sugars and occasionally prickles the nostrils with the smell of newly varnished furniture and the whiff of warm leather infused with incense, as lemon scented soap and floral notes develop with intensifying buttery notes and candied peaches. On the palate this whiskey is initially sweet and fruity as it rests on the tongue, releasing toffee apple and cooked apricot as it swirls around the palate. The wood then snaps at the taste buds as the whisky is swallowed, and the sugars are suddenly lost to a wave of drying wood and bitter floral notes – similar to potpourri – and green olives with lemon and shades of honey. The finish offers lingering hints of honey with yellow peach and notes of brine with olive pips and dried petals.
Overall, Teeling 21 year old is an elegant Irish whiskey that offers undertones of sweetness that do their best to reign in the woody twang that rages at mid-palate but it turns out that the oak is simply too big and bold to be tamed – strangely, that is precisely what seems to make this whiskey work so well. Teeling 21 year old is an interesting whiskey that I found enjoyable, but it did not leave me yearning for more. Be warned, there was a distinctive woody/bitter floral note that some may find odd and others may either love, hate or feel indifferent towards. It is best to try this one at a bar before buying a bottle.
Try this whiskey with some mild blue cheese or soft goats cheese, perhaps even a plate of mussels cooked in white wine.