Teeling Blackpitts is ‘Ireland meets Islay’: Master distiller Alex Chasko

The new Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey has a unique flavour profile that is somewhere between Islay and Irish whiskey in style, according to master distiller/blender Alex Chasko.

Teeling Blackpitts takes its name from the ancient Blackpitts area just behind the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Newmarket, Dublin, which was once synonymous with malting houses.

It is the second Teeling whiskey produced from scratch at the new Dublin distillery following the launch of Teeling Single Pot Still last year.

Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

“We had a list in the back of our mind of interesting and unique things we wanted to do to push the boundaries when we opened the distillery in 2015,” Chasko told Drinks Adventures.

“We were thinking, ‘what would people be excited about in four years?’ We wanted to innovate not just in terms of casks, but in fermentation, the style of distillation, and the type of raw materials.”

This drove Teeling to attempt a peated single malt whiskey that was also triple distilled.

“But we had enough experience working with peated malt at the Cooley Distillery (formerly owned by Teeling) for the Connemarra brand, to know that if we triple distilled it, it would take the phenol levels right down to nothing,” Chasko says.

“Even if you move the cut point on a double distillation up by two degrees alcohol, your phenol levels drop significantly.”

This meant using malt with a peat level of 55ppm, the highest possible phenol content, to ensure there would be any phenols still remaining after the third distillation.

“The trade-off for that is that the impact of the esters in fermentation go from being fairly mild in your fermenter and washback to getting accentuated in the third distillation,” Chasko explains.

“Triple distilling takes those fruit, honey and floral ester characters and brings them right to the forefront.

“Any of your heavy, oily phenolic flavours are going to be lessened significantly.”

Teeling Whiskey master distiller Alex Chasko

The result was a delicately smoky new make that Chasko says is more like barbecue smoke than the medicinal, iodine character of Islay Scotch whiskies.

“This is the bridge between islay and Ireland. It’s not an Ardbeg or a Lagavulin or a Laphroaig, it’s that bit in the middle of the Irish sea where the two would meet,” he says.

Teeling Blackpitts: An unlikely union of peat and Sauternes casks

Teeling paired the unique spirit with a maturation regime comprising two thirds ex-bourbon casks and the remainder ex-Sauternes, the latter of which had been deployed to great acclaim in its 1991-distilled single malt.

That particular spirit was distilled from 5ppm peated malt and finished in Sauternes casks before being released in several different expressions aged 20-plus years, one of which was named World’s Best Single Malt in 2019.

“I was surprised how well that played with the sauternes cask,” Chasko says.

“When I think of a French dessert wine, I don’t think, ‘let’s add a bit of smoky barbecue in there and see what it does, but it actually goes quite well.”

Teeling Blackpitts Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey is bottled at 46 per cent ABV with no chill filtration for a unique expression of Teeling and Irish Whiskey.

“No-one else is doing triple distilled peated single malt,” says Chasko.

“You can’t compare it directly to anything from Islay. You can’t even compare it to Connemara Peated, because Connemara is double distilled.”

Priced at $94.99, it is available now through selected Dan Murphy’s stores.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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