Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Rating★★★

Type: Whiskey

Origin: Ireland

ABV: 46%

Reaction: 🙂

Teeling single grain Irish whiskey is made predominately from maize/corn and then distilled using column distillation. Once distilled it is fully matured in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels, now that is something novel and interesting! I tip my hat to you, Teeling. 

Nose:

On the nose there is lots of twisted orange peel, dusty corn flour, date scone, dried fig, spice and brown vinegar.

Taste:

On the palate the whiskey is very smooth and sweet, with the snap of sweet ethanol and a vodka-like pinch. The ethanols are a little more pronounced than what I like, but orange peel seems to be the central theme and it almost tastes like a whisky based cocktail with an orange citrus twist. Also find spice, pepper, wood, nutmeg and caramel.

Finish:

On the finish the wood lingers with hints of spice, yogurt coated cranberry, dried dates, anise seed, icy cold schnapps, and caramel.

Bottom line:

Buy it, if you want to try a single grain Irish whiskey that is smooth, sweet and quaffable. Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey seems to be dominated by the ethanol in the spirit, which gives the whiskey a vodka-like character that underpins much of the other flavours, but it went down a treat. 

Powers Gold Label

powwers

Score: ★★★

Type: Whiskey

Origin: Ireland

ABV: 43%

Reaction: 🙂

Price: AU$58, US$20-30

With St Patrick’s Day approaching Malt Mileage continues its Irish whiskey tasting journey with Powers Gold Label Irish whiskey. As noted last time in the review of Green Spot, there are three things that make most Irish whiskey distinctly Irish; three things that some might say constitute the Holy Trinity of Irish whiskey (to keep with the St Patrick’s Day theme). First, it tends to be distilled three times (as opposed to twice, as most Scotch whisky). Second, it tends to be made from malted and unmalted barley (as opposed to being made purely from malted barley, as most Scotch whisky). Third, the Irish spell whiskey with an “e” whereas the Scots spell whisky without the e. 

Powers Gold Label is a an Irish whiskey that has been distilled three times and made from a blend of pot still and grain whiskies. It is not quite the pinnacle of Irish whiskey on paper, but it is probably not meant to be given its very reasonable price. 

Nose:

Rough, raw and rugged, honey and mild vanillas underlie ground pepper, cardamom and lashes of ethanol. The ethanol pierces through the thin layer of American oak, stringing the nose but at the same time caressing it with sappy sweetness not dissimilar to alcohol based aloe hand sanitizer.  

Taste:

A kick of spice awakens the palate and as the spices begin to fade shades of honey emerge and bursts of ethanol crackle on the palate like popping candy, releasing a sharp vodka-like flavour alongside some sweetness. The pot still character is in the distance, and it intensifies towards the finish with beaming cereals.

Finish:

The finish offers the fading spice and the flavour of Irish pot still, which grapples with nagging notes of ethanol. It is cereal rich, with hints of honeyed sweetness and hard green tea candy.

Bottom line:       

Consider it. This is a good quality whisky for the price, and though it seemed to have flickers of immaturity there was enough flavour from the pot still whiskey and the American oak to keep a smile on my face. While I am not particularly tempted to go back for more of this whiskey, it is quite hard to find a whiskey of this quality at its price point – sans of course Jameson, Glenlivet 12 year old and Glen Grant 10 year old.

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Green Spot Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Green-Spot

Rating: ★★★★

Type: Whiskey

Origin: Ireland

ABV: 40%

Reaction: 🙂

With St Patrick’s Day fast approaching it seems fitting to embark on an Irish whiskey tasting journey until the big day. In 2015 St Patrick’s Day falls on 17 March 2015, and that day is dedicated to a Catholic saint who famously explained the confusing concept of the Holy Trinity using a three leaf clover (the shamrock) in Ireland. The Holy Trinity, in Catholic teaching, is the idea that God is in three persons or beings – the Father, the holy spirit and the son (Jesus). As over a decade of Catholic education has made clear, this concept is far from simple so to ease the cognitive pressure let us skip the dogma and move onto another divine creation – Irish whiskey!

There are three things that make most Irish whiskey distinctly Irish. First, it tends to be distilled three times (as opposed to twice, as most Scotch whisky). Second, it tends to be made from malted and unmalted barley (as opposed to being made purely from malted barley, as most Scotch whisky). Third, the Irish spell whiskey with an “e” whereas the Scots spell whisky without the e. Now that, my whisk(e)y brethren, is the Holy Trinity of Irish whiskey.  

On this lead up to St Patrick’s Day 2015 the first Irish whiskey to be tasted by Malt Mileage is Green Spot. Green spot is a pot still whiskey that has been distilled three times,  is made from malted and unmalted barley and the word whiskey on the bottle is spelt with an “e”! It even has the word “green” in the name, which, though probably a reference to the use of unmalted barley, is nonetheless a tribute to the Emerald Isle. You cannot get any more Irish than that, unless of course the bottle comes with a beard redder than mine.

Green spot is matured in American bourbon and sherry barrels. 

Nose:

The aroma of bubblegum, green apple soft candy, peach, apricot and whipped cream is first noticeable, followed by honey, cereal and barley, crushed nuts, pecan, vanillas, dew, green strawberries, burnt chocolate brownie, caramel, treated wood and nutty Flaxseed.

Taste

On the palate this whiskey is full bodied and spicy, the wood takes hold and is counterbalanced by the sweetness of green pear, nectarine and mango. The fruit is sharp yet sugary and sticky. Honey and caramels then emerge, as the spices tingle on the palate.

Finish:

The spice remains on the palate with the wood, accompanied by pear and apple core.

Bottom line:       

Buy it. Green Spot is a superbly crafted Irish whiskey that I would have no hesitation buying at its price. It is a full flavoured spicy whiskey with lots of Irish charm.  

Teeling Poitin

Poitin

Rating: ★★★

Origin: Ireland

Type: New make spirit 

ABV: 61.5%

Price: $A50 (Aus)

Poitin is Irish “homemade” spirit which, despite being illegal in Ireland from the 1760 until 1997, has a firm position in Irish folklore, art and culture. People in Ireland were known to have distilled wash made from malted barley, thereby making Poitin, in rural areas of Ireland to avoid detection from law enforcement. Despite its potency and alcoholic strength, or perhaps because of it, Poitin became very popular in Ireland though its quality was variable and this is responsible for its infamous reputation. Now that Poitin is legal again, it can be regulated such that good quality spirit can be made.  One company taking up the old Irish art of moonshining is Teeling. Teeling’s Poitin is comprised of 80% triple distilled corn spirit and 20% double distilled malt spirit.

Nose:

Licorice, sourdough, olive bread, cherry stones, fresh mint, peaches in syrup and lovely sweet ethanol sting the nostrils, and underlying notes of wet dog fur and damp cardboard often associated with the tails of a distillation run are particularly prominent when water is added to the spirit. This is beautiful new make, ripe for the barrel, but whether it is ripe for bottling is an entirely different question.

Palate:

On the palate the spirit is sweet and fruity with soft summer stone fruit, season-all,  and powerful citrus peel, as ethanol burns at mid-palate then recedes into the finish.  

Finish:

The finish is sugary with hints of anise seed, rose Turkish delight and – curiously – garlic/onion powder.  

Bottom line:

Consider it, if you want to know what excellent Irish new make tastes like (albeit mostly corn spirit). For those looking for every day drinking whiskey, stay away – this is what whiskey tastes like before it is placed in oak barrels to mature so don’t expect any oak driven flavours, just sweet ethanol with some tasty congeners distilled from the hop-less (not hopeless) beer people in the whiskey industry like to call a “wash”. Poitin is essentially vodka, but because it has not been “polished” by either distilling it more or running it through charcoal filters it retains flavours from the “wash” (though many vodka producers now do not “polish” their product). I am torn. This is a great new make, but it belongs in a barrel not a bottle. It strikes me as more of a novelty, that something people used to drink when it was difficult or too costly to source properly matured whiskey. I dislike the taste of new make in mixed drinks or cocktails because of its pungent aroma, though this spirit seems sweet and smooth enough to integrate in some mixed drinks if the new make taste is what you are after. For most people, vodka – Belvedere, even Skyy – might be the more sensible option. Proceed with care, only if you know what new make tastes like and you enjoy the taste. 

Teeling Small Batch

TeelingSB

Score: ★★★

Origin: Ireland

Type: Blended whiskey 

ABV: 46%

Price: $A49.90 (Aus), US$32-38 (USA)

Teeling Small Batch is a no age statement whiskey from Ireland. It is a blended whiskey that is non chill filtered, finished in rum casks and then bottled at 46% abv.  The kind of barrels used for the maturation of the whiskies that comprise Teeling Small Batch do not appear to have been made public.

Nose:

On the nose menthol cough drops meet herbal schnapps with a refreshing menthol nip, but underlying the herbal notes are bread and butter pudding, raisins, banana chips, vanilla cream, raw sugar and coffee drops through unfortunately sweet ethanol pierces through the centre of the bouquet and smells like rubbing alcohol. It seems to me that the sharper piercing alcohol collected (which is collected earlier in a distillation run as “heads” and sometimes merged with some of early “hearts”) have not had time to be sufficiently mellowed by oak which means that they, on my nosing, pierced through the bouquet and snapped aggressively with the cutting smell of ethanol. 

Palate:

Sweet tropical fruit emerge, especially lychee in syrup, accompanied by herbal smoke and underlying floral notes, cinnamon, rose Turkish delight, cooked apple and peaches, honey, citrus and a mild creaminess; a symphony of flavours that are unfortunately interrupted by a somewhat rough and sharp bite of alcohol, which seems similar to the cutting burn of a polished vodka or younger whisky.

Finish:

The finish continues the sweet tropical theme, as papaya and pineapple merge with dark chocolate, star anise, honey, Irish Moss and herbal medicinal cough drops though that lingering burn of ethanol remains.

Bottom line:

Cautiously consider it, if you are after an Irish whiskey under $50 that you are more interested in drinking with company rather than analyzing closely. This whiskey strikes me as a no frills offering from Teeling which, despite some lovely flavours, is disrupted by rough and sharp bites of ethanol. This might disappoint the whisky aficionado. Despite its excellent price, I would not buy it. This whisky is a shadow of Teeling’s other (age statement) products, of which the Teeling 21 year old sits at the very top.  

Teeling 21 Year Old Silver Reserve Saturenne Finish

Teeling 21 yo

Rating: ★★★★

Origin: Ireland

Type: Single malt

ABV: 46%

Price: £123.95

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.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson

Score: 95/100

Type: Whisky

Origin: Ireland

ABV: 40%

Price: $40

It was a frosty Saturday night and I needed some liquid fire (a.k.a whiskey) to help warm me up! The bar only had the usual “entry level” suspects so I asked my girlfriend to “surprise me” with one of them while I went to the Gents. A tumbler of golden nectar sat waiting for me when I returned to our table. Intrigued, I peered at the tumbler without a clue of its contents. With a flutter of her eyelids my girlfriend hinted that it was a bourbon. I knew she was lying, and a whiff of the mysterious nectar (and her cheeky smile) confirmed it. There was definitely something “bourbony” about it, but it wasn’t bourbon. What I did know for sure was that it was damn good “entry level” whiskey that put to shame many of the outrageously expensive whiskies I had enjoyed that week. It did not take long for me to finish the whisky, and as I savoured my last gulp the idenitity of the mysterious dram was revealed: Jameson Original.

Jameson is Irish whiskey made from malted and unmalted barley that has been dried without a single puff of peat smoke. It is then distilled three times, as opposed to most Scotch whisky which is generally distilled two times, and aged for between 4 to 7 years in sherry and bourbon casks.  To tame the fire even more, Jameson blends this whiskey made from malted and unmalted barley with a delicate grain whiskey to create the “entry level” Jameson Original. It is now a staple of my whisky cabinet and one of my favourite mixers, particularly delicious with cloudy apple juice or ginger ale.

On the nose the bourbon cask influence is most obvious, with vanilla and caramel accompanying a bouquet of mixed grain, barley, grass, green apple, gooey licorice and glazed cherries. On the palate the bourbon themed vanillas and raisin are interrupted by lighter bursts of sherry wood, which brings glazed cherry and a nuttiness that accentuates earthy and grassy undertones, raw grain and barley.This magic then proceeds to the finish and the shimmers of sherry wood become more dominant, bringing to the fore the nuts and dried fruit with a hint of spice and drying wood notes.

Overall, Jameson Original is sharp, crisp, fresh, sweet and smooth as silk. At is price, it is in my view one of the world’s best value whiskies and perhaps one of the few “entry level” whiskies that can hold its own against some premium products on the market while giving others a good old Irish hiding. What do you think of that, boyo?

Redbreast 12 Year Old


Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:

Redbreast 12 Year Old
Whiskey 
Score:
95/100

ABV:
40%
Region:
Ireland 
Body:
Medium  
Intensity:
Soft  
Texture:
Smooth 
Balance:
Near perfect  
Best served:
Cask:

Neat 
Oloroso sherry 
Theme(s):
Vanillins, wood sweetness (raisin, licorice and caramel), dried fruit, dark chocolate, barley, spice (pepper, cinnamon, vanilla bean), deliciously smooth and rounded

Thoughts:
Overall, Redbreast 12 year old has struck me as highly complex, soft, super smooth and yet deliciously vibrant and robust. What I found particularly interesting is that its delicate character seemed to soak up and project not only the sherry but also the subtle wood aromas and flavours that lay beneath the sherry. The sherry notes are one thing, but what I enjoyed most were the aromas and flavours commonly associated with virgin oak unpinning that sherry influence – for example, the coconut on the nose, the wood vanillins, caramels and licorice on the palate and the burst of spices on the finish. 

The light style of this whiskey allows it to project some flavours that other, heavier, styles will simply drown out. It is certainly one of the more interesting Irish drams which also remains true to the light triple distilled Irish style – a style that is certainly growing on me, to match my red beard no doubt!  

Tasting notes:
Nose: Clean and mild bourbon notes develop with musky vanilla pod, licorice, honeyed pastry (baklava comes to mind) and a buttery biscuit base with hints of coconut, lime, dried cherry and toasted chocolate brownie with a mild drizzle of caramel. This is an overall light and fresh whiskey, with more assertive aspects which appear to be the result of some very skilled distilling and careful barrel selection – the grain shines within the layers of wood and sherry influence which all intermingle to create a whisky with soft rounded grain notes and more vibrant vanillas, chocolate and dried fruit (especially cherry) from the wood. 

Taste: On the entry sweet and nicely rounded wood vanillins and sugars (raisin, soft prune, licorice and soft caramel) give the impression that this whiskey has spent some time in charred virgin oak, because it offers some bourbon style notes. The sherry orchestrates the show, but on the early palate the delicate whiskey seems to have drawn out some delicious oak flavours which outweigh the sherry and are accompanied by mineral undertones and the gentle crackle of barley. At mid-palate the show gets more interesting with melon, dried pineapple and paw paw balancing a progressively intensifying spicy pepper ?(almost rye-like), cocoa and ginger-nut biscuit. Now this is where it gets really interesting! 

Finish: The spices (now anise seed, cinnamon and fresh vanilla pod) explode into a smoky haze, supported by dried fruit, dark chocolate and a resurgence of the sherry wood in the form of glazed cherry that appeared to mostly disappear on the palate. 

Likes:
Complex, smooth, interesting, great balance. 


Price:
£39 (UK), $99 (Aus)

Jameson Select Reserve

Name:
Type:

Jameson Select Reserve  
Blend
Score:
95/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Ireland 
Body:
Medium-full
Intensity:
Medium 
Texture:
Medium-oily  
Balance:
Near perfect 
Best served:
Neat
  
Thoughts:
Imagine Jameson’s famous balance. Add a generous helping of pot still whiskey, a dash of ashy toasted wood, big vibrant bourbon and sherry notes and a mineral saltiness that crackles with grain and spice. That, in my opinion, is the Jameson Select Reserve. This is Irish whiskey at its finest, with a creative twist that makes it richer, fuller, spicier and toastier than the Jameson Original. It makes me want to leap out of my chair and set sail for the Emerald Isle… just after another dram. 

This small batch offering from Jameson combines ‘rich pot still whiskey and a rare sweet small batch grain whiskey’ which is matured in flame-charred bourbon barrels and toasted sherry casks. That explains the a lot about the character of this whiskey!

This is a whiskey that is ideal for people who enjoy Irish pot still whiskey, and want to try something with a creative twist that showcases a lot of charred American oak. 

Tasting notes:
Nose: Surges of ground pepper, spice and toasted ashy wood accompany a salty mineral fizz softened by soothing waves of vanilla which allows cream soda, dried apricot, apple skins, raisin and hints of banana chip to emerge with white almonds and the cough of Irish pot still character. This is a fusion of sherry and bourbon notes, encased in toasted wood and enlivened by grain. 

Taste: Deliciously smooth and velvety on the entry, it does not take very long to know that this is great whiskey – lip smacking in fact!  A blanket of toasted wood crumbling with fine dusty ash and interwoven with sweet sultana and luscious vanilla forms on the palate with glowing sherry and vibrant stone fruit notes (plum, cherries and nectarine). Beneath the blanket of rich fruit and ashy wood, spicy coloured peppercorns toss and turn with the restless flutter of the grain – malted and unmalted barley crackle alongside the sweet grain notes, and then recede in mid palate only to return with vengeance towards the finish. The sweetness is balanced by a saltiness that may, one thinks, be the result of alkaline salts found in pure ash. This is a beautiful whisky with a bit of everything – American and sherry oak with the charm of Irish pot still character and hints of ash. 

Finish: The pot still character glows on the palate with buttered popcorn and sweet red toffee apple, as the ashy charred wood balances against that sweetness and delivers that mineral saltiness.   

Likes:
Complex, interesting, creative, rich, super smooth and enjoyable 
Price:
$60

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2007


Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Jameson Rarest Vintage 2007
Irish, pot still 

Score:
95/100

ABV:
46%
Region:
Ireland 
Body:
Medium-full 
Intensity:
Medium 
Texture:
Medium-oily 
Balance:
Heavenly 
Best served:
Cask:

Neat 
Second fill bourbon casks, Port casks
Theme(s):
Christmas, rich fruit, red berries, cranberry  caster sugar, icing, creaminess, vanilla, caramel 

Summary:
This is the result of unbounded genius, when four whisky masters can handcraft the finest whisky possible from the oldest, rarest and most expensive stocks of the Jameson (Midleton) reserves. The result of the 2007 bottling is spectacular, Christmas in a class. Let me explain. 

Tasting notes:
Nose: The fragrance of Christmas fills the glass, and there is little doubt on first nosing that this is an exceptional whisky. The nose presents with a Christmas theme, as dried cranberries and cherries are layered over a fudge cake with caster sugar and a layer of white icing. The vanillas are strong, with layers of caramel adding sparks of sugary sweetness to the otherwise creamy heart of this special whisky… I hope Santa is checking its list to make sure I’ve been nice not naughty this year (hint hint, Santa!).  

Taste: Smooth and deliciously complex. The chocolate cake theme develops with the caramel as subtle shades of sweetness act as a counterbalance to the cocoa and gentle oak influence. Soft and creamy, the red berries once again come to the fore but in a sharper and more determined way than on the nose, which was a little more subdued. Rich fruitiness dominated by red berries (cranberries etc) is relaxed by creamy vanilla. When I say “Christmas”, I do not mean rich sherry notes, but very subtle shades of sweetness within the creamy layers of bourbon and Port cask influence. 

Finish: The finish tingles on the tongue, buzzing with the sweet fruit and creamy vanilla in a very distinct way. 

Likes:
Depth and smoothness that radiates Christmas in a glass with almost perfect balance 

Price:
Tasted:
$600 (Aus), £300 (UK)
7-Sep-2013

*Not blind tasted