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Teeling New 13 Year Old Single Grain, Oldest Yet

What you need to know:

  • Teeling debuts their second grain whiskey, a 13 year old single grain, their oldest yet, joining their existing NAS grain whiskey offering.
  • Like the NAS bottling, this 13 year old single grain is also distilled using Maize (also known as corn) and is also matured in red wine casks, bottled at 50% abv.
  • This comes from their existing stock purchased from Cooley before the Teeling brothers left to their new site.
  • We go on a passionate monologue on how grain whiskies are sometimes under-appreciated compared to their malt peers and how Teeling just does it so well.
  • Full tasting notes below! 

 

 (Image Source: The Wine Cellar Insider)

 

Who doesn’t love Teeling? Answer is people who don’t know of Teeling yet.

The Irish distillery started in 2015 by the Teeling brothers, Jack and Stephen, have won hearts and palates all over.

Fun fact: Their Dad, John Teeling, started Cooley Distillery, which broke the Irish monopoly held by Midleton and its many forms – Jameson, Tullamore, Redbreast, Green/Red/Yellow/Blue Spot, so on and so forth, list goes on.

 

The Teeling brothers come from a long lineage of whiskymaking. (Image Source: AFAR Magazine)

The distillery has made massive progress the last couple of years since they’ve left Cooley’s, which was sold to Beam Suntory – we all admire and appreciate the whole “I don’t wanna work for a big corporation thing”. Well, since then they’ve started work on the new distillery and have now firmly moved in to their new home.

They’ve had two releases under their belt from their new home, the Teeling Single Pot Still Whiskey and Blackpitts Peated Single Malt; both were met with great reviews, and us at 88 Bamboo really liked them too (they’re still available by the way). But there’s more to that, these were the first Dublin-distilled Irish whiskey to be released in almost half a century. So cheers to that!

The Blackpitts release was released to great welcome. (Image Source: Whiskybase)

 

But you might then be wondering, wait quick math tells us that if they got to their new site in 2015, how could this newly launched 13 Year Old Single Grain exist? Well, before they left, the brothers weren’t going to let the big corporation have all their blood, sweat and tears were they? As part of the sale to Beam Suntory, they brokered a deal to purchase 16,000 casks of aged whiskies that they could bottle while they waited for their new distillery to get up to speed. Smart. 

So with regards to this new 13 Year Old Single Grain, you’re right, it mostly, if not entirely, originated from the old site. Still great though, a remaining piece of history.

 

Teeling is expanding its grain portfolio, it'll be an interesting head-to-head.(Image Source: Spectac International)

This 13 Year Old follows their existing Teeling Single Grain whiskey which is a non-age statement (NAS) bottling. So now we get a little side by side comparison between their grains, which is a really nice little exercise, given that most other Irish grains come from the juggernauts, but here we get some small batch crafted grains.

This 13 Year Old is distilled primarily using Maize grains. It was then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels for 9 years followed by 4 more years in ex-Bordeaux red wine casks. It carries with it a 50% abv.

 

“It’s a little known fact that the majority of Irish whiskey sold is actually grain whiskey as it makes up the majority of the composition in big multinational-owned brands of Irish whiskey.

As such, since our formation we have been keen to ensure we offered unique and interesting expressions of Teeling single grain whiskey.

Our new 13-year-old release is a further representation of our mission to help drive the continued expansion of the Irish whiskey category through unique bottlings and expressions.”

Jack Teeling

 

(Image Source: The Spirits Business)
 
Official Tasting Notes
  
Nose
Rose Water, Ripe Cherries, Cinnamon and Red Fruits
 
Palate
Summer Fruits, Berry Jam, Vanilla Cream, Soft Orchard Fruits and Honey Notes
 
Finish
Spice, Dry Tannins, Toasted Oak, Lingering, Warm Wood Notes
 
ABV
50%

 

Our Take

I find grain whiskies very under-appreciated versus malt whiskies and fair enough, they’ve mostly played a very much backseat role in the whisky world and till date, most of their production purpose is for blends.

Blends require a good amount of grain whiskies to help bond the more robust, flavorful malt whiskies together. As an experiment, if you have a couple of whiskies opened at your home bar, you can try pouring half a dram from each of them into another bottle and test it out for yourself. You’ll tend to find your resultant homemade blend too sharp, oaky or simply find the various high notes and base notes out of place.

 

Unfortunately with grain distilleries looking like these, it doesn't help them compete with the scenic malt distilleries. (Image Source: Suntory)

Grains carry with them a fairly one dimensional creamy, sweet, vanillic profile that provides a solid base for the malt whiskies.

And if you recall, blends are actually where whisky first got its start, single malts are actually a fairly recent thing. And even till today, the volume of blended whiskies sold annually way outpaces that of single malts.

In fact, in Japan, you could argue that if a distillery was in possession of grain whisky production capacity, their grain whiskies would be in way higher demand than their single malts. Simply because distilleries cannot survive on Single Grain bottlings alone to build a well-loved brand with consumers. Hence, most grain whisky production is held closely within the confines of big whisky giants, such as Suntory in Japan, and Midleton in Ireland.

 

You'd be surprised but these bottles that I'm sure you recognise way outsell single malt. That's right, some of you on the single malt bandwagon have been secretly buying these. (Image Source: Hi Consumption)

These grain whiskies are highly sought after by other distilleries looking to combine their malt whiskies and produce blends that might find its way into a bigger consumer market.

Now that all sounds very much like the job description of a supporting actor but this is where I feel Teeling comes in.

They seem to prefer maturing their grains in wine casks, to great results. This I find incredibly inventive because as mentioned earlier, grains themselves provide a really solid foundation to take on flavors and these flavors don’t have to come from malt whiskies in blends, they can come from the cask itself. 

 

 

What you’ll instead tend to find is single grain whiskies carrying an eye-popping age statement like 50 years or so, but typically matured in ex-Bourbon and ex-Bourbon alone. That gives me some reason to believe those grain whiskies are simply from the discard pile from blendmakers.

Keep in mind, that doesn’t make them bad in any way. In fact, sometimes because these grains are produced in large quantities and stored for so long, blendmakers may feel that the single grain would probably fetch a better price bottled than as part of a well-known blend that has a fixed price (such as Johnnie Walker or Ballantines). It might just have come down to an opportunity cost calculation. That’s my take on it.

 

The new Teeling Distillery. (Image Source: Teeling)

So back to Teeling, I really like what they’ve done. I think they’ve been very smart about their whole business and on top of that, they’ve really taken something that has largely been seen as the tree in the production set’s background and turned it into something worthy of the stage, front and center.

Definitely worth getting your hands on. Both the Single Grain Whiskey and this 13 Year Old.

Kanpai!

  

@111hotpot