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FOOD + DRINK

Teeling's 34-Year-Old Vintage Reserve Single Malt Irish Whiskey

The oldest single malt to be bottled in Ireland

by David Graver
on 08 February 2018

When Jack Teeling founded the Teeling Whiskey Company in 2012, his mission was to revive a family trademark. His family has been involved in the Irish whiskey world since 1782, doing everything from operating small, craft distilleries (and opening larger ones) to digging out the Powers' mash tun. Teeling, as a brand, shuttered in 1976, as distilleries in Ireland were consolidated. More than a decade later, Jack's father John Teeling established the Cooley Distillery—the first new whiskey production facility in 100 years. All of this history makes for a good story but the work Jack himself has done in the last six years matters most right now. He's got a worthy brand on his hand, putting out inventive, tasty spirits. The latest, a limited edition super premium single malt Irish whiskey, is really unlike anything else out there. And it's so good.

As we've noted before, age statements really don't matter. Many brands put out a 12-year-old product that's far superior to their 18. It's all up for debate, but a higher number doesn't always make for a better product, just a different one. With the 34-Year-Old Vintage Reserve Single Malt, first distilled in 1983, one can't help but delight at a wildly successful flavor profile, which Master Distiller, Alex Chasko says calls to mind blueberries on the nose. (It does.) And there's a creaminess throughout that's not over-oaked. "This cask spoke to us," Jack explains to us, "It was ready to be bottled."

How can a brand born in 2012 have a 34-year-old product? Jack explains that it is part of a rare cask collection that he brought along from other Teeling endeavors. That means he is quite familiar with its development. The double-distilled whiskey was aged exclusively in an ex-American oak bourbon cask, which had quite a bit of evaporation (aka angel's share)—though, Jack says people could have just been sampling from it over the years, aware that it was so good. It's been bottled at 40.9%.

This is the latest and most prestigious release in their vintage reserve series, all of which come in hand-engraved bottles produced by Glencairn. Jack also notes that it acts as a commemorative spirit to emphasize the overarching importance of 2018: this year, the distillate from their recently opened Dublin distillery can legally be called Irish whiskey. His vision for the brand is strong: "For Irish whiskey to evolve and stay relevant for the next 30 or 40 years, it has to change," he says. "There has to be more choice to it. We have come from the position of thinking, 'How can we evolve the category? How can we create a range of unique expressions that cater to consumers interested in discovering something new, focusing on the liquid first?'" From this limited edition to their core range trilogy—a Small Back, Single Grain and truly superb Single Malt—they're infusing the market with liquids that blossom from complex to luxuriant and luscious. And they might just change the category as Jack hopes.

The 34-Year-Old Vintage Reserve Single Malt with retail for $5,000—essentially creating a first-ever tier at for Irish whiskey. There are 43 bottles total, though one (#42) was tapped for tastings, including the one we attended.

Images courtesy of Teeling

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