These days it’s not uncommon to hear about old brands or names in whiskey being resurrected, and Teeling is no exception. Although the Teeling distillery itself was only built up in 2015, Jack and Stephen Teeling trace their family name back to 1782 “when Walter Teeling set up a small craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane in the industrial heart of Dublin City.” Dublin would go on to become a haven for Irish whiskey, serving as the home for over 30 distilleries, until the last of them closed in 1976. Furthermore, Teeling is the first new Dublin City distillery to open in 125 years.
In that short span of time, Teeling have established a core lineup of five bottles. The rum-finished Small Batch might be their entry-level option, but I was most interested in trying their take on single pot still Irish whiskey. It’s distilled from a 50/50 combination of malted and unmalted barley and, like most Teeling products, is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV. Teeling’s website lists American virgin oak, ex-bourbon, and ex-sherry as the casks used for this expression and, somewhat curiously, labels all three as “wine” casks. My particular bottle was bottled on 08/2020 and, according to the back label, was “crafted and bottled by” Teeling.
Nose: Barley yeast is barely tamed by hints of lemon club soda and the vaguest shortbread cookie note. Maybe a whisper of ginger snap. Elevated fruit after sipping; pineapple and grapefruit—both feel dried and restrained.
Palate: Slightly waxy mouthfeel. Light impressions of fruitcake and trail mix. I can coax out dried pineapple and pear with a short almond note popping up, as well as golden raisins.
Finish: On the longer end of the short spectrum. Pot still character shows the most here. Delicate warmth with an underdeveloped shortbread and sweeter, lightly buttered toast.
I’ve been quite drawn to single pot still whiskey, particularly after trying a handful of Redbreast expressions. Even blended Irish whiskeys that makes some use of this style (see Jameson Black Barrel and Powers Gold Label) have left positive and promising impressions. Teeling’s rendition is…different. It’s one of the lightest whiskeys I’ve had in recent memory, with the pale color representing the experience on offer. Time has allowed my bottle to open up, with tell-tale fruit and biscuit notes becoming more obvious with each pour. However, these flavors are still quite docile, and when compared to more established options, Teeling falls woefully short.
The good news is that the wonderful texture of single pot still whiskey is well and intact here, no doubt aided by the lack of chill filtration. It may not have the same cask influence to help bolster it, but the makings for a greater product are present. Recommending Teeling Single Pot Still in its current form comes down to a couple questions. Are you expecting a rival to Powers, Redbreast, or a Spot whiskey? Do light flavors and a youthful personality bother you? If your answer to either of these is “yes,” I’d look elsewhere. This feels like a dram meant to challenge the drinker with something more subtle and demanding of undivided attention, but even then, it’s more for the sake of perspective and appreciation, rather than enjoyment.