Thanks to /u/boyd86 for the sample of Teeling 21.
Teeling was established recently. Very recently. And is currently running their three stills quite hard, using innovative casks, and overall being impressive.
However, the question most usually have is this: “How in the heck do they have older releases?” They source their whisky. That’s really the only answer. From where? No official statement. It is from an Irish distillery, and it is triple distilled.
Like a lot of different places, that’s probably a smart way to start out. Source some single casks, get your name going and grow your brand. Eventually, people sing your praises and scream your name from the rooftop. We see that with Willett and Liddesdale (spelling in question on that second one).
I haven’t had many chances to try out the Silver and Gold bottlings. The Teeling 21 Vintage Reserve – Silver Bottling, up first, is believed to be the first ever Sauternes finished Irish whiskey. However I saw no citations for that, so maybe it’s the second. Who knows, let’s just see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: No longer available at the LCBO
Number of Bottles: 5,000
Cask Types: Ex-bourbon, then finished in ex-Sauternes casks
Colour: 5YR 5/8
Nose: Cherries, brown sugar, macadamia nut, strawberry pie, roses, ouzo, peach blossom
The initial blast of cherries and brown sugar leaves me very confused. I was expecting lemons, floral notes. And while there are roses (because if not someone’s in trouble), this has more ex-sherry notes than anything else.
Quite sweet. May be a put down for some people. Though very inviting to me, much like anyone who has a van full of candy near me these days.
Taste: Mango, sticky rice, chicken stock, Twizzlers, clove cigarettes
Umami and mango notes. It’s an odd combination. Actually, all of the notes just come off as odd. Some of them work, with the mango and sticky rice being a fun time. Yet smoking Twizzlers isn’t my thing.
Very odd. Don’t know if I like it, however, it’s quality, that’s for certain.
Finish: Anise, cinnamon, mint, portobello mushroom, tobacco, brown butter
Big earth and spice finish on this one. Any hint of fruit from before is banished, probably in the end scene to leave the audience coming back for more.
Wait, that’s the Game of Thrones formula, not this whiskey. Again, big spice and tobacco notes. This is all around better mixed than the taste was, which had issues.
Conclusion: An odd dram. My bias against tobacco is showing here, and those elements I did not enjoy. However, if you do enjoy tobacco, add some more points to you, lung cancer-dor (that’s a Harry Potter joke).
The nose is a really nice sherry cask, the taste is unique, and the finish is a spice bomb. All around nicely done. I may not love it, however again, I’m not a tobacco fan. This is really tasty, with lots of earth and spice. This is where Sauternes casks need to be used, on older whiskies.
Teeling 26 1987 Gold Reserve is up next. Many have read that I find ex-white wine casks confusing. And I stand by it.
However, this whiskey is quite a bit more expensive. Not only do white Burgundy wine casks not grow on trees (well.. I mean, they do.. ahem, let’s move on), but it’s one of the older Irish whiskies released around this time. We’re still seeing Irish whiskey climb back into the world’s drinking minds. And they were well known for being smooth, so whiskey geeks such as myself are still slow to try them.
These releases are for us. An age stated older whiskey that’s finished in unique drams. Well, it’s for us and the people who decorate with whiskey bottles.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Ex-bourbon, finish in White Burgundy wine casks
Cask Number: Batch #1
Number of Bottles: 1,000
Colour: 2.5Y 8/10
Nose: Pine forest, banana bread, caramel sauce, almond, spearmint
Wow, initial nose starts out almost young smelling but then ramps up pine in a way that I’ve not hit before. Lots of mint, lots of rich caramel, and some nuttiness.
Taste: Almond brittle, strawberry smoothie, boiled peanuts, stout, lemon
More nuttiness, more complexity. Lots of rich notes, however, there are these nutty notes mixed with richer, big creamy notes.
It’s the type of taste experience that requires being picked apart, it’s so good. Lovely creaminess that evolves with time.
Finish: Clean, caramel, pear, violets, turnip crumble, weak ginger
Disappointing finish, too short. I want more. I stared at my sad little dram for the whole time, wanting it to give me more than some floral, sweet, and earthy aspects.
It’s clean though. So if that’s your thing, congrats.
Conclusion: All in all, I think the nose and taste is really the best part for me. It’s unique, well developed, and a lot of fun. Overall though? That finish is hard to come to terms with.
So this is where I run into issues. I enjoyed 2/3rds of this dram immensely, and then the finish wasn’t great. It’s passable, if at all.
Add a lot of points if a clean finish isn’t a deal breaker for you. For me it is, so sadly I’d take the 21 over this.
World Whiskey review #312-313, Ireland review #85-86, Whiskey Network review #1432-1433