Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New release - Teeling Irish Single Grain

This is an innovative new product from The Teeling Whiskey Company, the award winning Irish independent bottler, which was released back in November. Single grain is predicted to be one of the big growth areas in 2014 but while Scotch versions increase, Irish examples are still very rare.  The Teeling expression joins an ever growing range of products released by the company - these include aged single malts, a 'hybrid' malt which sees Irish and Scottish whiskies blended together, and version of poitin (the famous Irish moonshine).

The Teeling Whiskey Company was founded by Irish whiskey pioneer Jack Teeling in 2012.  The Teeling family had previously helped to rejuvenate the Irish whiskey industry by setting up the Cooley distillery in County Louth in 1987.  The aim was to bring back many of the old traditional Irish whiskey brands that had been lost over time.  These included names such as Connemara, Kilbeggan and Tyrconnell.  Cooley was sold to Beam Global in January 2012, leaving Jack free to set up TWC.

The Teeling Irish Single Grain is made using predominantly maize/corn and this is distilled through modern column still apparatus.  In a slightly unorthodox move, the whiskey has then been fully matured in ex-Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels sourced from California, USA. The age is unspecified but it has been bottled in small batches at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered.  It is available now in Ireland, the UK and USA plus selected north European markets.  The cost should be around €50 (£42/$70 US).

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is packed with a lovely mix of fruity and spicy aromas.  The fruitiness is reminiscent of dried cranberries and raisins, with the spiciness having a bittersweet cereal edge to it.  There are also wood spices present (think of cinnamon especially) and these are joined by aromas of vanilla, honey and fresh coconut.

On the palate this feels initially dry and spicy with the woody cinnamon note particularly evident.  There is also plenty of freshly sawn oak.  Once these settle, some softer notes begin to emerge - think of vanilla fudge, creamed coconut, honey, butterscotch and a hint of marshmallow.  Then comes the distinct dried fruitiness from the nose.  There are notes of red fruit, such as cranberries and plums, both of which are clearly coming from the use of red wine casks.  They fuse with notes of sugary sultanas, raisins and a hint of tangy candied orange is also offered.  A late hit of cinnamon returns.

The finish is long, dry and spicy especially once the initial sweeter and fruitier characteristics begin to disappear.  The bittersweet cereals, fresh oak and cinnamon-like spice gradually fade to leave a lovely warming sensation in the mouth.

What's the verdict?
This is a very enjoyable whiskey to drink and the interesting use of the wine casks have added an extra dimension.  As mentioned, more single grains are sure to appear on the market throughout the year and the Teelings have thrown down the gauntlet to their competitors with this delicious example.  The quality is high and the price is reasonable, especially compared to something like the Girvan range from Scotland - this will include a very similar 'no age statement' single grain but for double the price.

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