Do you have any Irish in you?

Do you want any?

Of course I mean do you want any Irish Whiskey inside you. And why would you not? Although Irish whiskey is currently 5% of the global market, it certainly seems to be on the cusp of a massive renaissance. I have to be very honest, I’m somewhat lacking in the knowledge and experience of Irish whiskey, so a visit to Teeling Distillery in the Liberties area of Dublin was an excellent way to make a start.

Walter Teeling started out distilling at his Marrowbone Lane Distillery in the Liberties area of Dublin. This eventually merged with William Jameson’s distillery, also on Marrowbone lane. Due to financial difficulties, the whole enterprise closed in 1923.

The whiskey industry in Ireland used to be massive with 37 distilleries in Dublin alone. The last distillery in Dublin, the Powers distillery closed in 1976 when it relocated to Cork.

However, this was not to be the end of Teeling. In 1987, John Teeling bought a facility in Cooley, Co. Louth, which had been used to make industrial alcohol from potatoes. This was converted to a whisky distillery and opened in 1989. John sold the distillery to Beam Suntory in 2011, but the stock in the warehouses was not part of the deal. His sons, Jack and Stephen has also worked at the Cooley plant, and in 2015 established the Teeling Distillery again on Newmarket, in Liberties area.

The distillery visit

As is common with many whisky distillery visits, there are different packages you can get as part of your tour. This just varies how many products you get to taste at the end. We picked the Trinity tour which included three samples (Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt). This cost €22ea, the cheapest option was the Small Batch, which included a sample of Small batch and a seasonal whiskey cocktail, which costs €17 and the Distillery Select tasting allows you to taste the Single Malt, Small Batch, Distillery Select and the Small Pot Still whiskies. This was €30.

The distillery tour starts in an open plan space with 7 large information boards and whiskey collectables. Once the introductions are done, you are taken to see a short video, then through a door into the distillery area.

One impressive thing I noticed straight away is that being a new distillery and also one which had a visitor experience in mind, the distillery is fully accessible to those in wheelchairs. There is a lift at the end to get back down to ground label, but the journey to the production area is all on ramps.

The malted barley or grains are put into a mill to be converted to grist and are fed into a stainless steel mash tun.

Mash Tun

There are three washes of water rinsed over the grist, with the first mash being at 78C, the subsequent rinses being with hotter water. The output of the mash tun is wort, and contains all the sugars needed for the yeast to convert into alcohol. The wort goes into the washbacks but are known here as Fermenters. Unusually, the first 2 fermenters are wooden and the remaining fermenters are stainless steel.

Fermenters (wash backs)

Both of the wooden wash backs were open, one worn fermenting sugars and the other which had wort only in it. Fermentation takes between 3-5 days.

Once fermentation is complete, the wash is fed into the first still (the wash still). The wash is boiled at 88C. The out put from this still is known as the Low Wines. The low wines are fed to the intermediate still, which boils its liquid at 84C. The output of the intermediate still is known as feints and is fed to the final still, which is the spirit still, the output of which is known as New Make. The strength of the New Make is 84% abv.

Irish whiskey is typically triple distilled, whereas with a couple of exceptions, Scottish whisky is double distilled. Auchentoshan is a Scottish lowland Malt that is triple distilled and Benrinnes is a Speyside malt that used to partially triple distill by re-distilling the output of the spirit still. I’ve a Bruichladdich that has been quadruple distilled but as it is only 3 years old I’ve no urgency to try it yet.

The Stills

An interesting fact is that the Italian manufactured stills are named after the daughters of the founders. In order of process they are Alison, Natalie and Rebecca. Zoe has her name on the first cask filled at the new distillery.

You don’t get to see the warehouses at Teeling, rather just a mock up of rack storage. There are display bottles of the spirit as New Make, 6 months old and 6 years, which then gives you an idea of how the barrel changes the spirit over time.

The whisky supplied comes from the stocks produced at the Cooley distillery as the produce at Teeling has only just reached the age at which it can be called whiskey – 3 years old as is in Scotland. However where it is made is of little consequence at the moment, as it is still very tasty.

New Make,6 months and 6 years old spirit

After this stage, you are taken through for a tasting. Depending on what tour you purchased determines who many samples you get. As said previously we went for the Trinity tasting which gave us three samples (Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt). You get a small wrist band to identify which tasting you get but a word to the wise – don’t tighten it unless you have scissors to cut it off! I had to make do with nail clippers!

Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt.

I’ll give a taste test on the three whiskies sampled later as I couldn’t take good photos of the colours and didn’t get time to make notes, however I did get a Trinity tasting set to do this at home.

And this concludes the tour. I’ve been brief, as I wouldn’t want to spoil your experience if you visit, but if in Dublin I could thoroughly recommend it.

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