The Teeling Whiskey on the market today was over a century in the making. Founded by brothers Jack and Stephen Teeling, the distillery exclusively produces small-batch bottlings that continuously push the boundaries of what it means to be an Irish whiskey. Despite the fact that the distillery has only been operational for just over a decade — the Dublin distillery re-opened in 2012 — Teeling Whiskey is already one of the most awarded Irish Whiskey brands with over 300 international accreditations. Now that you know the basics, here are eight more things you should know about Teeling Whiskey.
Teeling Whiskey dates all the way back to the 1800s.
While the distillery we know today opened its doors in 2012, the true origins of the Teeling date all the way back to 1782 when Walter Teeling opened his first namesake distillery on Marrowbone Lane in Dublin. At the time, Irish Whiskey was a booming industry, and there were 37 fully functioning, independent distilleries in the city. The Teeling distillery was open for just over a century before it was sold to a member of the Jameson family. Shortly after the sale, Teeling was forced to close its doors due to insufficient demand for Irish whiskey. It wasn’t the only one: Between 1886 and 1970, the number of operational distilleries in Ireland shrank from over 100 to just two, neither of which was located in Dublin, leaving the city with no Irish whiskey producers.
Distilling is in the DNA of the Teeling family.
While Ireland was experiencing a sharp decline in Irish whiskey demand, John Teeling — an Irishman and descendant of Walter Teeling — was across the pond examining whiskey distilling and its possibilities while studying for his doctorate at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. His main focus? The collapse of the Irish whiskey market and the subsequent closure of over 100 distilleries. Passionate about what Irish whiskey could offer to the world and confident in the spirit’s ability to turn a profit on markets, Teeling opened the Cooley Distillery on the Cooley Peninsula in Ireland in 1987, breaking up the Irish whiskey monopoly held by the company Irish Distillers.
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At the time, Irish Distillers owned the only other two distilleries producing Irish whiskey. The opening of the Cooley Distillery marked the first independently owned and operated Irish whiskey distillery to open in the country. At Cooley, John’s sons Jack and Stephen worked with their father to operate the distillery until Cooley was sold to Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark in 2012. At that point, the brothers sought out to create — or rather, reinvigorate — a different whiskey label, Teeling.
Teeling Whiskey is Dublin’s first functional distillery in over 125 years.
The Teeling brothers opened the new distillery just around the bend from the site of the original Teeling distillery. The opening marked the first distillery to operate in Dublin’s city center in over a century. Luckily for the Teeling family, the sale of the Cooley distillery allowed for the brothers to negotiate and retain 16,000 casks of aged Cooley product to use to kick-start the revival. In 2015, the brand’s first release hit the market: Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, a combination of hand-selected casks of grain and malt whiskeys, each aged in ex-bourbon barrels before both are blended to finish in Central American rum casks for up to a year.
The distillery is located in an area of Dublin rich with whiskey history.
Located on Newmarket, the Teeling Distillery is located in the Liberties, the same neighborhood the original family distillery was founded in. This area of the city, known as the Whiskey Triangle or the Golden Triangle, has historically been the epicenter of distilling and brewing in the country. Prior to the sharp decline of the Irish whiskey industry, all 37 distilleries in Dublin were located in this small section of the city covering just a one- mile radius. Alongside Teeling’s original distillery lived Jameson, Tullamore D.E.W., Bushmills, and many more, as well as the Guinness Brewery. This area of the city was favored by distillers and brewers for the ample water source provided by the river. Additionally, as the city center is where the majority of grain and malt imports entered Dublin at the time, such close proximity ensured convenience and ease for distillers.
The phoenix on the label has sentimental meaning.
Depicted on the center of Teeling Whiskey’s label is an image of a phoenix spreading its wings. As the reopening of the Teeling family distillery represents a rebirth of the Irish whiskey industry in Dublin, the phoenix displayed on every Teeling bottle is meant to represent the industry itself rising from the ashes. As expressed by the Teeling brothers, they were not bringing a new industry into Dublin; they were simply reviving one that had once flourished and then laid dormant for over 100 years.
The whiskey brand isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo.
Learning from their father, who was a taste-maker in the Irish whiskey industry in his own right, it’s no shock that his sons aren’t shying away from challenging the norm. With an annual production of just 500,000 liters, every batch is made using primarily pot distillation. The distillery does not use peated malt in any of its whiskeys, and also employs practices like triple distillation. It also varies its styles of aging, the barrels used in aging, and the amount of time each whiskey is aged in order to impart distinct flavors for a unique drinking experience. Another departure from Irish whiskey tradition? The label’s lack of chill filtration prior to bottling, resulting in a full body and a spirit full of character.
Teeling has an expression for everyone.
Beyond the distillery’s flagship Small Batch release, there are six other expressions for thirsty imbibers to try. In the standard collection, the brand also features a Single Grain Irish Whiskey, a Single Malt Irish Whiskey, a Single Pot Still, and a Peated Single Malt. For those looking to branch out a bit further, the distillery features two options from its reserve selection: Teeling Whiskey 30 Year Old Vintage and Teeling 32 Year Old Purple Muscat. The former, of which there are only 4,000 bottles per batch, is first aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being transferred into ex-Sauternes wine barrels for a finishing period. The latter was first distilled in 1990 before aging in bourbon barrels for 28 years, at which point the liquid was moved to finish in a single Portuguese Purple Muscat French Oak Cask for four years. This release, which is only available in the United States, was allocated to just 283 bottles.
Sustainability is at the heart of everything Teeling produces.
Teeling prides itself on being one of the leaders in the Irish whiskey industry on the sustainability front. Not only does the company source all raw materials itself, it’s implemented a number of measures in-house that significantly reduce the amount of water used in the distilling process, including the installation of a rainwater harvesting system and the use of an on-site well. Additionally, the distillery uses an energy harnessing system that captures excess energy generated during production and uses it to heat the visitor center. Teeling is also a verified member of Origin Green, a national food and drinks sustainability program seeking to improve sustainability among Irish producers by implementing agendas and measurable goals for those verified to reduce their carbon footprints.