Teeling Small Batch (46%, OB, Rum Cask Finish, February 2015)

Last month I reviewed a single cask bottling of a Teeling Whiskey for the Dutch market finished in a Madeira Cask. Nice stuff, but for some, hard to get. The most widely available Teeling should be this Small Batch. This is a blended Whiskey finished in Rum casks.  Since 2013 many batches were released and for some batches, if not all, casks were used that held Rum from Flor de Caña (Nicaragua). Flor de Caña is known for an accessible and rather dry Rum.

Teeling Small BatchColor: Gold. (Thick legs in the glass)

Nose: Sweet. Sweet and sugary and smells very much like the sweet, middle of the road Rums like Abuelo Añejo I just reviewed. Brown sugar. Its Rum and Rum, after a while some more notes are discernible. Toasted wood, and sugary wood. Vegetal and whiffs of sulphur. I’m working hard at it, but I can’t recognize any Irish Whisky in this yet, let alone a Blended Irish Whiskey. Leaving the glass to breathe for a while, yes you might say it has some traits of Irish Whiskey. Some dry, woody milk chocolate enters the fold and it gets more dusty.

Taste: Again lots of Rum, just here it is a little drier and more leafy than an actual Panamanian Rum I mentioned above. Sugar right from the start. Also the body is all about Rum. The finish is the only place where you can actually taste the Irish Whisky. Sweet grain. The finish is quite short, a bit thin also and again sugary and Rum-like. Wow, were the Rum casks really empty, when they were put to use finishing this Irish Whiskey? Given some time the Rum wears off a bit and Whiskey seems to shine through, although it also could have been a dry sugar cane distillate now. A bit gritty, vegetal and woody. Notes of sweet red fruits more common to some Rums than Whiskey.

Wow, this actually is closer to a Rum than Irish Whiskey! Blended or not. Just look at the legs in the glass. Just smell this and taste this. luckily I have the bottle here. because if this was from a sample, I wouldn’t have written this review thinking the sample was mislabeled! This Teeling isn’t very expensive, but if you want a distillate that tastes and smells like this, get yourself the Abuelo Añejo it’s even less expensive than this Teeling Rum finished in Irish Whiskey casks. This actually is pretty funny! Were all the batches like this?

Points: 77

After finishing this review I filled my glass with the Abuelo 7yo. It is thicker and fuller and way more vanilla to it, but in taste quite similar to the Teeling. Amazing. It should be even more similar to the Añejo, but I don’t have that one here anymore for a proper H2H same for Flor de Caña 12yo and Flor de Caña 18yo I reviewed earlier, both gone…

Teeling 13yo 2002/2015 (55.5%, OB, Single Madeira Cask #935, 311 bottles)

In 2012 Jack Teeling sold his Connemara distillery for €71 million to Beam Inc. and everybody, especially Jack himself, thought that would be his end in the Whiskey business. Back to buildings and properties or so it seemed. But Jack wouldn’t be Jack and Whiskey wouldn’t be Whiskey, so Jack hatched a new plan for a new brand and a new distillery that has just been opened this month in Dublin. Up ’till now, the standard range consists of a Small Batch release, finished in Rum, a Single Grain, finished in Red Wine casks and a Single Malt Whiskey that is surprisingly not finished! (At least it doesn’t say so on the label). Also three super premium Whiskies are released. A 21yo (Silver, Sauternes finish), a 26yo (Gold, White Burgundy Wine finish) and finally a 30yo (Platinum, like the Single Malt, unfinished). These three don’t come cheap. This year Teeling started to release Single Cask bottlings in Germany, Belgium and this release for the Netherlands for the Specialists’ Choice. All again finished in different casks: Port, Rum, Carcavelos and today’s special: Madeira. By the way the picture on the left is from another Single Cask release, since I don’t have a picture of the new release just yet…

Teeling Single CaskColor: Reddish orange gold.

Nose: fresh air, new wood, not necessarily only oak and definitely notes of a sweet wine. Milk chocolate, mocha and luke warm coffee with lots of milk. Slightly oxidative, spicy and creamy. Paper towel with a tiny hint of soap. Young, spicy and vibrant. With young I don’t mean that it reeks of new make spirit. I mean vibrant, lively. Very appetizing. Lovely nose. It reminds me a bit of Single Malt Whisky, when it was new to me. Barley, sappy oak, grassy, creamy vanilla, some mint, red lemonade and a fresh pot of coffee.

Taste: First is a hot mixture of oak and sweet white wine, biting each other a bit. Its sweet and has notes of acidic oak, but also spicy oak and paper. Another layer contains hints of hard to get red and black fruits, something not quite uncommon to other Irish Whiskey’s like Jamesons 18yo and Redbreast 15yo. It seems a bit disjointed, especially when the sweetness is pulsating and the wine turns from a sweet entry into something a little bit more sharp. But you can’t not like it. It’s really an enfant terrible, but it still charms you into liking it and forgiving it. When it’s faulty it’s a lovely fault. Slightly bitter in the finish soon overpowered by different shades of wood, spicy and acidic, add to that the contributions of the Madeira and you have something you can’t put down, but is not entirely easy.

For me this is an example why Whiskies like this should be cask strength. The aroma’s seem enhanced by the higher strength and a Whiskey like this should bite you back a bit. It’s not your simple entry-level Whiskey. Are you experienced?

Points: 85