Editor’s note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Teeling. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Teeling Whiskey Distillery traces the history of its founding family back to Irish spirits maker Walter Teeling in 1782. A few blocks from this original distillery in Dublin, Jack and Stephen Teeling opened their own establishment in 2015 – with, as they like to say, one eye on the traditions of the past and another resolutely looking to the future to find ways to innovate in the industry.
“The delicate base of Irish whiskey is the perfect canvas on which to layer flavor and character,” Teeling says on its website. “Variing the time, style and number of barrels used during the maturation process adds to the subtlety and complexity of flavor that we are proud of.”
Its new limited-edition Wonders of Wood series gives Teeling a chance to double down on that philosophy, offering small runs of experimental barrel aging and finishing. The first release in the series is the one aged in Chinkapin White Oak, which is often found in central or eastern North America.
Chinkapin Oak, says Teeling in his tasting notes, “produces a truly different taste experience, layering a distinctive gingerbread spice and banana bread sweetness unique to Irish whiskey.” The whiskey is made from 50% malted barley and 50% unmalted barley, then triple distilled in a pot still.
Tasting notes: Teeling Wonders of Wood Single Pot Still Chinkapin Oak Whiskey
Vital Stats: Mash bill 100% barley, aged in white oak barrels; 100 degrees/50% alcohol by volume; initially available in Dublin but some will be available in North America this spring; MSRP $99.
Appearance: Definitely darker than Teeling’s flagship Single Pot Still whisky. The main whiskey is straw colored, while this limited edition is a brownish amber. Solid feet on the side of the glass; not particularly liquid.
Nose: The pot still Irish whiskey base is still evident, though it’s remarkable how different this version of Wonders of Wood has taken on a different character. It’s tangy and spicy and you can smell barley, but everything under it is honeyed brown sugar. Tasting notes are not wrong when they mention banana bread.
Palace: The inclusion of 50% unmalted barley in the mash bill continues to be spicy on the palate, but – again – it’s understated. The overwhelming sensation is that of a caramel-like sweetness. There is a dark, sticky and sweet essence, reminiscent of molasses in the back of the mouth. The closest analogy I can find is that it’s like eating the layer of hardened, caramelized sugar on top of creme brulee, if the custard underneath provides spiciness in addition to the sweetness.