Whiskey Review: Teeling 30-Year-Old Single Malt

, | February 6, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Teeling Whiskey Company. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

A 30-year-old Scotch is a rare enough thing. But an Irish whiskey that has been in barrels since the early 1990s is virtually unheard of, like something you might find at a charity auction alongside a Fabergé egg.

Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey Company released 24-year-old and 28-year-old single malts in the last few years that racked up an impressive series of awards at international whiskey competitions. The addition this January of a Teeling 30-year-old single malt put the topper on the bottle, as it were, for the distillery’s Vintage Reserve Collection.

The whiskey was matured in ex-bourbon casks for 21 years, then spent another nine years in barrels that had been used for Sauternes, a sweet French wine. Teeling released 4,000 decanter-like bottles globally of the 30-year, each bearing a certificate of authenticity.

I was once fortunate enough to try a Bowmore Sea Dragon 30-year-old Scotch. I remember it as fantastic, in the way top Islay Scotches can be, but I’ve never entirely trusted the memory. A friend offered me a pour of the Sea Dragon when I stopped by his office, and of course I agreed. But it all happened fast and on the spur of the moment, so I didn’t slow down and dwell over the whisky the way I might have in a different setting.

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Reviewing the Teeling 30-year gave me a second chance, in a way. This time, I slowed down and spent time savoring every drop. (Since I was only given a 50 ml sample in this case, there weren’t any drops to spare.)

Teeling 30-Year-Old review

Teeling 30-Year-Old Single Malt Whiskey (image via Teeling)

Tasting Notes: Teeling 30 Year-Old Single Malt

Vital stats: Mash bill of 100% malted barley; 92 proof/46% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $2,200 and available in California, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida (though already selling for considerably more in online secondary markets).

Appearance: Light amber, sort of a yellow-orange color. Legs stick solidly to the side of the Glencairn.

Nose: My wife, who doesn’t drink whiskey, has a habit of nosing glasses I pour when I’m working at the kitchen table. She walked by, picked this one up and smelled it without knowing what I was reviewing. “Oh wow, that smells really good,” was her non-technical analysis. She’s not wrong. I picked up juicy peaches and white chocolate, and a hint of smoke that suggests this whiskey included at least some peated malt. Oaky vanilla and butterscotch are also present, which isn’t entirely surprising after three decades in wood.

Palate: After the easily approachable fruity sweetness of the nose, the initial taste came as a bit of a shock. This whiskey is a complicated mistress, it turns out. The first thing that hit my tongue was a velvety, but distinct, flavor of cashews. Underneath the nuttiness, you’ll find apricots, Fig Newtons, honey, and just the tiniest dash of cloves. The finish is long, and settles warmly in the back of your throat.

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The Takeaway
4.5

Summary

Teeling acquired the lots of whiskey that became this release in 2009. The same batches led to the recent 24-year-old and 28-year-old releases. Even older releases are possible for the years ahead. Wherever they acquired the barrels, it’s quality whiskey. The “dual maturation” – 21 years in ex-bourbon and then nine more in Sauternes casks – has also done a lot to influence what Teeling ultimately put into bottles.

The bottom line is that this is one of the most interesting whiskies I’ve tasted; the cashew-forward flavor was not at all what I expected. On the other hand, if I’m paying $2,200 for a bottle of 30-year-old whiskey, then I probably want it to be distinctive. On that count, Teeling has delivered in spades.

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Scott Bernard Nelson

Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. When he's not working, you can often find him fly fishing or rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest.