Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Teeling. 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.
The Teeling Whiskey Distillery traces the history of its founding family to Irish spirits maker Walter Teeling in 1782. Just blocks from that original distillery in Dublin, Jack and Stephen Teeling opened their own facility in 2015 – with, as they like to say, one eye on the traditions of the past and another looking determinedly forward for ways to bring innovation to the industry.
“The delicate base of Irish Whiskey is the perfect canvas upon which to layer flavour and character,” Teeling says on its website. “Varying the time, style and number of barrels used during the maturation process adds to the subtlety and complexity of flavour we pride ourselves in.”
Its new Wonders of Wood limited-edition series gives Teeling a chance to double down on that philosophy, offering small runs of experimental barrel aging and finishing. The first release in the series is one aged in Chinkapin White Oak, which is often found in central or eastern parts of North America.
Chinkapin Oak, Teeling says in its tasting notes, “produces a truly different taste experience, layering a distinctive gingerbread spice and banana bread sweetness unique to Irish whiskey.” The whiskey is made using 50% malted barley and 50% un-malted barley and then triple distilled in a pot still.
Vital stats: Mash bill of 100% barley, aged in white oak; 100 proof/50% alcohol by volume; available in Dublin initially but some will be available in North America this spring; MSRP of $99.
Appearance: Certainly darker than Teeling’s flagship Single Pot Still Whiskey. The main-run whiskey is straw colored, while this limited edition is a brownish amber. Solid legs on the side of the glass; not particularly runny.
Nose: The Irish pot still whiskey base is still evident, though it’s remarkable the extent to which this Wonders of Wood release has taken on a different character. It’s sharp and spicy and you can smell the barley, but all that lies underneath honeyed brown sugar. The tasting notes aren’t wrong when they evoke banana bread.
Palate: The mash bill’s inclusion of 50% un-malted barley continues to show up as spiciness in the mouth, but – again – it’s understated. The overwhelming sensation is one of a toffee-like sweetness. There’s a dark, sticky, and sugared essence to it, bringing to mind molasses in the back of the mouth. The closest analogy I can come up with is that it’s like eating the hardened, caramelized sugar layer on the top of crème brulée, if the custard underneath provides spiciness in addition to the sweet.
Teeling has done something interesting here, giving almost a bourbon-like sensibility to a pot still Irish whiskey. That comes, no doubt, from the exaggerated oak flavors. It’s still an Irish whiskey, but the prevalence of oak adds a sweetness and a nuttiness you don’t always find in other Irish whiskies. I like it, and I’m more than a little curious to see what else they’ll come up with in the Wonders of Wood series.
User Review3.31 (16 votes)
Scott Bernard Nelson
Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. Scott works in higher education these days, but he previously spent 22 years as a journalist, covering 9/11 in Manhattan, crossing into Iraq with U.S. Marines and contributing to The Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of sexual...