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Teeling Whiskey Distillery Tour And Tasting

Twice. The number of times I thought I had been to Dublin previously, but I was wrong. I have a habit of that. Having been a wine merchant and writer for many years, I am convinced the cranial sub-section of my brain containing memory has diminished over time. Does anyone else feel the same? I was telling a friend about my trip, and how it was only my second trip to Ireland, when they reminded me of a wedding I had photographed there. It took a few minutes of ruminating and navigating the passages of my memory, but recollections started to resurface slowly, until I could even recall the name of the restaurant the reception was held at. What I don’t recall are the bride and grooms’ names or visiting any distilleries, which is such a shame!

Teeling Whisky is located in the Liberties area of Dublin, a short walk heading southwest from the tourist mecca and wallet-busting Temple Bar. Historically a working-class area, it is steeped in history, most famously for being home to Guinness, which attracts an extraordinary amount of visitors each year. Teeling does not have a barrel warehouse here though, not only due to space restrictions, but the fire hazard it presents. James, my guide for the visit, pointed out that traditionally wet horse manure was used to extinguish frequent fires which occurred. The Liberties is my sort of place – real pubs with decent Guinness, and fairly priced. An absence of tourists taking selfies every minute, leaving the Dubliners to enjoy a pint in peace. Except for this tourist…

Teeling may have reopened in 2015, but their history dates back to 1782, when Walter Teeling set up a small craft distillery nearby on Marrowbone Lane. Resurrecting a family business, however, does not have to mean paying homage to historic relevance and working in age old practices. In fact, Stephen and Jack Teeling have done the opposite, creating a modern distillery which produces whiskey in small batches with innovative cask maturations and a young team. As you head toward the distillery from Temple Bar, walking alongside the Liffey, which runs for 82 miles before flowing into Dublin Bay, you feel you are heading in the wrong direction. Yet, there is a sense the distillery is close by, evidenced by the Teeling-branded barrels the pubs are using outside as tables. A fantastic marketing move that also upcycles. I like it. 

Alex Chasko was their very first employee, a master distiller and blender from Portland, Oregon. Portland is known for having more breweries than any other city on earth (at the last count, seventy). That means serious competition, and those that stand still will lose. Being on the West Coast of the USA, you may be inclined to think that the beer scene is relatively new, but in fact, the first brewery here was Henry Saxer’s “Liberty Brewery” in Portland, established 1852. Alex found himself in Ireland, having married an Irish lady, and was aware of the emerging buzz around Irish Whiskey and wanted to be part of it. A meeting with Jack in 2012 highlighted how aligned their vision was and the rest is history

And history is exactly what Teeling Whiskey are making. Being a veteran of hundreds upon hundreds of vineyard visits as a wine author, I have heard every sales pitch imaginable, but the ones that stand out don’t sing their own praises, instead proving relevant context whilst letting their product do the talking. This was the case with Jack, who was a pot still full of knowledge. Tasting through the range, not once did he say how good a whiskey was, confident in their inherent quality. Sometimes an ambassador can seem bored, it might be their tenth press visit of the week, but James was perfectly enthusiastic, even popping off to his office to get a dram of something interesting that he was genuinely excited to show me. Part 2 is coming soon and in the meantime why not book a Teeling Whiskey Distillery Tour And Tasting? You can visit their website here

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