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Teeling Innovation Continues As It Sets Release Of First Whiskies From Its Dublin Distillery

October 8, 2018

In the eyes of Jack Teeling, co-founder and managing director of Dublin-based Teeling Whiskey, Irish whiskey is in the midst of “not an evolution, but rather, a revolution,” thanks to rampant investment and innovation. Teeling has been leading the charge, mainly by innovating through the use of unique casks. “We’re filling in the gaps in terms of what people are accustomed to seeing from Irish whiskey,” Teeling says.

At Teeling’s core is the “Trinity” of labels: the Small Batch, Single Grain, and Single Malt. The top seller is Small Batch ($40 a 750-ml.), a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged in ex-Bourbon casks up to six years, then finished in Central American ex-rum casks for six months. “People like blended Irish whiskey, and we want to build on that by challenging perceptions of the style,” Teeling says. The Single Grain ($50) is barrel-aged in California Cabernet Sauvignon casks for just under six years, while Teeling Single Malt ($60) is aged in a combination of five wine casks—Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy, and Cabernet Sauvignon—creating a fruit-forward style. “Single malts aren’t just Scotch or Japanese anymore,” Teeling notes. “We’ve created a distinctive single malt that happens to be Irish.”

Teeling has been sourcing its whiskey from third-party producers, but its distillery in Dublin has been producing since 2015, and some of its oldest distillate is now ready to be shipped. In November, 6,000 bottles (500 cases) of the new Teeling Single Pot Still Batch 1 will be released for the Irish market. A second bottling will ship early next year to Europe, Australia, and Asia, and a U.S. launch is targeted for later in the year. “We hope to do several bottlings of our Single Pot Still in 2019,” says Teeling. The whiskey is aged three years in ex-Muscat barrels, with a 50% malted and 50% unmalted barley mashbill, in a traditional style.

Teeling’s distillery is currently producing 600,000 liters of alcohol annually, and the plan is to ramp up. “Our goal is to double our turnover in three years,” Teeling says. “Our maximum capacity is over 1 million liters of alcohol, so we’ll continue raising production up to that level with no need for extra capital investment.” The facility produces a range of pot still whiskies including Single Pot Still and Single Malt, “as well as other unusual mashbills we’re experimenting with,” Teeling says. He adds that a Crystal Rye is also in the works; the distillery has yet to decide whether that will be an ongoing or limited release.

Some of Teeling’s distillate is already being used in its Small Batch label. “The Small Batch currently being filled into rum casks for finishing uses our own liquid,” says Teeling. “We’ll move to a new recipe from around the second half of 2019 and early 2020. The components will be changed (over time) from sourced liquid to our own.” One exception will be the Single Grain label, which will continue to be sourced from The Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk. And there will be a wait for an own-make Teeling Single Malt, as the term “Single” requires use of 100% Teeling distillery-produced liquid, which will take some time.

Teeling partnered with Bacardi for its U.S. distribution last year, and has been building its footprint. The brand sold 12,000 cases in the U.S. last year. The U.S. focus will remain on the Trinity, though Teeling does unveil special releases from time to time. A new limited-edition release will launch in the U.S. next year, though Teeling said it’s too early to provide details.—Julia Higgins

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