So here we are, we all knew we would get here eventually; the Teeling Single Pot Still. Dublins first Single Pot Still since Powers moved to the Midleton Distillery nearly 50 years ago, the Single Pot Still is a recipe using 50% malted barley and 50% unmalted barley, tripled distilled before being matured in ex-bourbon, ex-wine and virgin oak. Now the Pot Still distillation method is a unique one, with the Irish starting to use it around l785 to avoid the tax on malted barley. The Scots had their ways of avoiding tax, and the Irish theirs. However, a side effect of the malted and unmalted blend gives a secondary, unexpected feature; that of a smooth, velvety mouthfeel, as well as touches of spice that spring off the unmalted barley. As mouthfeel is a large contributor to the overall experience of a whiskey, it gives more time for the palate to appreciate the flavours without a rough experience. Now while Pot Still whiskey was at one point in time the most famous in the world, events over the past few centuries have seen the method, and the Irish Whiskey industry, fall into a decline. However, with the resurgence of Teeling and the construction of new distilleries throughout Ireland, Irish Whiskey grows more and more. We can only hope it keeps on growing.
It opens with touches of spice, first running against pine, then balsa wood before we start to rub incense against that wood. It’s a pleasant experience, and not one too often nosed. After that we fall through crystallized honey, saffron and star anise into a bowl of unripe melon, firm northern mango and lime juice over a kiwi fruit, a base of rye biscuits and peach stones. After breathing it becomes lightly heated, touches of clear plastic bags and a warm compost heap, not at all expected but neither is it unpleasant, on the contrary it smells natural and right, as though the whiskey is biding its time, waiting to blossom into something spectacular.
Once we sip, oh, there is the grain. The malt runs beautifully, toasted barley, popcorn, roasted rye and a mixed grain breakfast cereal, little bits of draff and wash edging here and there so delightfully I felt as though I were in a distillery. Aniseed still throws its weight around before we feast on rye bread, slather in honey and caramel. I took another sip and suddenly I could have sworn I was drinking vodka that had been left to soak in cardamom, chilli, chai and vanilla pods before suddenly biting into an Anzac biscuit topped with golden syrup and macadamia nuts, given time the whiskey brings out a touch of smoke drifting away on the wind, with a medium finish, starting with a spice build, into flame tinged grapefruit rind, before it eclipses with rye and drops into a brilliantly made Old Fashioned. The palate jumps, left right and centre, looking to show you everything and anything that it can offer you, but in the end it is the mouth feel we are here for; silken smooth, no burning issues, feels like hearing Nina Simone blues. Velvety, sleek, glossy and beautiful.
That was a journey. Normally I write my reviews in an anecdotal way or try to paint a picture with the flavours, but I found I couldn’t with this one. So much happening, it was a whirlwind of activity. I honestly can’t tell you whether the whiskey was brilliant or just something new, but it definitely shows more promise than most when it comes to reviving something, and definitely something I could drink and talk long hours away with folk in a bar. I initially didn’t know what to think of the 50/50 split, normally I favour something with a touch more unmlated barley when doing a Pot Still, but I was proven wrong on that. Hey, I’m not a distiller. Teeling Single Pot Still marks a brilliant point for Teeling, for Irish Whiskey, and for Whisk(e)y everywhere. While other companies have been doing pot still for some time, the Teeling is something that can really show the world just how much Pot Still can offer. Sláinte guys, and well done.