Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey - March 17th, 2015

When I was young, one of my favorite drinks was Hi-C's Ecto Cooler. Do you remember Ecto Cooler? A neon green citrus ambrosia tucked into Slimer bedecked cardboard boxes and in the grubby hands of kids everywhere?

It was awesome.

The premise, I suppose, was a tie-in with the Ghostbusters movie/tv show. I guess you were drinking Slimer's ecto-slime that he blasted all over Peter Venkman / Bill Murray in one of my favorite scenes in Ghostbusters (the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man scene, while it scared the hell out of me and made me want s'mores, is a close second).

I'm sure, at this point, you're wondering what this has to do with Teeling Whiskey. Bear with me here.

Today, as I'm sure you all know, is St. Patrick's Day, or St. Paddy's Day. All around the world, people are downing Solo cups of spirulina-like quaffs of green beer and, more likely than not, recreating the above scene. Only at 2:30 am in a bar bathroom. Or, even worse, in a hotel hallway. While I have a fierce love of green beverages (except you, Midori)...green beer is not one of them. No combination of food dye and cheap suds is enough of a motivator to get me to revel in the "luck o the Irish", as it were. If I'm celebrating St. Paddy's Day, it's with a dark pint of Murphy's or...maybe...a drop of Irish whiskey.

See what I did there? BROUGHT IT HOME.

Teeling Whiskey Co. has intrigued me for awhile anyway. It's rotund yet elegant bottle. The fact that it's heralding the first distillery in Dublin in 125 years. The fact that, from what I've heard, it has a high malt profile in its standard Small Batch expression. The fact that, for all intents and purposes, it is a successful and well-liked Irish whiskey that is a positive sign of small Irish whiskey growth. Whatever it is, it's been on my radar for awhile. And when I was approached by a PR company with a bottle and a "St. Patrick's Day Cocktail" premise, well, I jumped on it. So they sent over a full bottle (I forwent a $25 Whole Foods gift card for ingredients because I didn't need 'em) for me to investigate and review. I can't find much information on their Small Batch in terms of distillation and maturation specifics but it is bottled at 46%, non-chill filtered, and finished in rum barrels for six months after primary maturation. Before I jump into the notes, here's a few pictures to whet your whistle:

Nice lookin, huh? Alright, here's the notes:

Nose: Definitely ex-bourbon primary maturation. Sweet vanilla cream and biscuits, buttered toast. Brown sugar. Touch of fresh milled grain. Fruit as well; pineapple, apples. Slightly grassy. Touches of rose and honey as it opens up.

Taste: Vanilla custard and barley sugar. Thinner mouthfeel than I expected for a non chill filtered. Heather honey and...orange. There's some herbal component in it that I'm having trouble placing. Almost like an unsweetened allspice dram? Not sure. Finish has those rum touches of burnt sugar and citrusy cream. Drying too.

A gratuitous liquid photo:

It's definitely an ex-bourbon baby to begin with. It's got those hearty oak lactones and barrel backbone. I don't think they're ALL first fill, maybe second fill grain with some fresh malt. The cereal components really are nice. They're subtle but bring a nice "oomph" to it. It's a solid whiskey. Not incredibly complex, mind you, but very, very solid. Has enough complexity that a neat glass of it would be welcome but I think it'd do well in cocktails with a citrus focus. Or maybe even a Teeling Milk Punch. You're looking at about $35 for a 750ml  bottle which I think is a BIT high but understandable, especially at 46%. If I could get it for $30 and change that'd be ideal. It's hard to find around me but if Jameson is <$24 for a 750ml, I'd be more likely to upgrade to this for that extra tenner.

(Sample bottle sent by Baddish Group.)