The odds are good that any one of us would have wanted a cut of the profits from our nation’s watering holes on last Tuesday’s St. Patrick’s Day. A great deal of whiskey was slung across those bars, and most of it was probably either Bushmills or Jameson, the two largest brands. For the average consumer, that was probably the end of the story until next March.
Irish whiskey producers have historically taken a back seat to their Scottish colleagues. This is a shame, since Irish is much easier for the beginning drinker to appreciate, and considerably cheaper as well. Things are gradually changing: according to the Distilled Spirits Council of America, Irish whiskey sales increased 9% in 2014. Still, the statistics are grim. In 1782, when a man named Walter Teeling established his distillery in Dublin, there were 37 producers in the city; by 1976, there were none.
All that changed in 2011 when Jack and Stephen Teeling, Walter’s descendants, opened a Dublin distillery very close to the spot where their ancestor had operated. Their newest expression, Teeling Single Grain Whiskey ($45), has just hit the market. The current generation of Teelings are aiming to take advantage of the explosive revival in brown spirits, and they are mindful of the success enjoyed by Bourbon. The single grain here is corn—which means that this whiskey, if it were made in America and aged for the right period of time, could actually be labelled as Bourbon. Rather than putting the Single Grain into the traditional white oak casks, the Teelings matured this whiskey in barrels that previously held California Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds another dimension of complexity.
Teeling Single Grain was bottled at 92 proof/46% alcohol. It has a deep amber color and an enticing nose that offers aromas of sweet molasses and toasted oats. It enters the mouth smoothly, displaying a rich and mellow texture along with flavors of toffee and roasted nuts. The taste is reminiscent of a hypothetical cross between single malt Scotch and Kentucky’s finest. The finish is long, sweet and warming, and the spirit is a pleasure to sip neat—although if you find yourself in a bar next March 17, no one will blame you if you want to knock one back.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); for more information, go to amazon.com