Ireland’s Teeling Distillery was releasing mature whiskies very soon after its launch, leading many drinkers to ask the question, “how old is Teeling Whiskey?”
Brothers Stephen Teeling and Jack Teeling began the Teeling Irish Whiskey venture in 2012.
However, their association with the native spirit dates back to 1782, when ancestor Walter Teeling opened a distillery in Dublin.
Much more recently, in 1987, John Teeling – father of Stephen and his brother Jack – established the Cooley Distillery in the Republic’s north-east.
The Teeling family owned 30 per cent of the company when in 2011 it was sold to spirits giant Beam for $US95 million.
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It was the right time for Cooley’s other shareholders to exit the whiskey game but not for the younger Teelings, who were just getting started.
“We managed to secure a lot of the family casks that didn’t go with the deal, so we brought a lot of whiskey with us, from new make spirit all the way to some of the world’s oldest whiskey,” Stephen Teeling explains.
“We just said, ‘what could we do that could maybe excite people again and make different styles of Irish whiskey?’”
“Irish whiskey is currently undergoing a bit of a renaissance and a boom globally, but it’s being led predominately by the bigger companies.
“I think as a smaller player, it gives you the flexibility to be able to innovate but also do things that wouldn’t make a lot of sense for a bigger company, because they’re smaller and hands-on.”
How old is Teeling Whiskey?
So it was that in 2012 Stephen and Jack were able to launch the Teeling Whiskey brand with a portfolio of whiskies soon including single malts already up to 30 years in age.
“It allowed us to have a clean slate and do a lot of things that maybe we wanted to do in the old company but just because of the nature of the business – there was a lot of stakeholders in it – we couldn’t do,” Teeling says.
Such ventures include non-chill filtered and higher strength whiskies, as well as unusual expressions matured in vessels such as rum casks and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels.
Teeling Whiskey Australia
Teeling Whiskey has been available in Australia since 2014, releasing a steady stream of products including limited releases such as the 28 Year Old Single Malt.
The following year (2015), the Teelings opened a distillery in Dublin – the city’s first new whiskey distillery in 125 years.
“People told us we were crazy,” Stephen Teeling says. “They’re like, ‘why would you ever pick a part of Ireland that’s the most expensive place to build the distillery? But also, it’s in a city’.”
But the Teelings were passionate about returning distilling to Dublin, which in Irish whiskey’s heyday of the 1850s had 37 of the country’s distilleries, then numbering in their hundreds.
Irish whiskey was at that stage the world’s top selling whisk(e)y, accounting for 60 per cent of global production.
“Dublin whiskey in particular used to get a premium globally, it was 25 per cent more expensive for a Dublin Irish whiskey versus any of the rural ones,” Teeling says.
Ireland’s whiskey industry was slowly eroded and eventually capitulated such that there was only one distillery left in the country, which was responsible for just one per cent of the world’s whisk(e)y production.
“For us that was a travesty because when people came to Dublin they had to go see [whiskey] museums – not real experiences,” Teeling says.
In 2020, Teeling Irish Whiskey reached another milestone with the launch of its Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, reprising this uniquely Irish style as it was originally made in Dublin.
You can read Drinks Adventures‘ review of the Teeling Single Pot Still here.
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