Yesterday, (Wednesday the 30th of January) I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon in Teeling Distillery with a group of whiskey enthusiasts listening to Alex Chasco (master distiller), whilst tasting their soon to be released batch 2 of their Single Pot Still. (Thanks to Dave @daveswhiskey for organizing this and Teeling for hosting us )
(Please note that this Batch 2 Single Pot Still blog is a pre- general release review.)
In October 2018 Teeling launched batch 1 of their Pot Still with 6,000 bottles in this first release. It sold out immediately. The most interesting aspect of the release was the varied response to the whiskey. This was due, I believe, to the unique taste profile of the whisky. It was matured in a combination of white wine, virgin oak and sherry barrels. While I give more detailed tasting notes below, the key highlight of this whiskey was its zesty, green, white pepper led signature notes. Even though it had the oily pot still texture and imprint many traditional Irish pot still drinkers would be familiar with, it was a light, herbaceous pot still oily profile which was a first I think for Irish Pot Still Whiskey.
Yesterday Alex explained the thinking behind Teelings release of this first batch with the key message being the desire to continue to be innovative and most importantly to share that innovative journey openly with the Irish whiskey community.
Teeling have, since inception, been bold and experimental with multiple different finishes, profiles and price points and have won many awards and plaudits for their successful releases.
I believe that the future success of Irish whiskey is far more guaranteed with distilleries like Teeling sharing their journey with novel releases and seek difference rather than simply replicating what is already in the marketplace.
Batch 2 is a continuation of this journey and on first sampling yesterday the 4 months longer it has slept has brought about quite a change in the whiskey. Again I give comparative tasting notes below but in essence the whiskey has become more roundly sweet with less zesty notes. Wood and nutty compounds are now more to the fore. The body is now heavier and has more sweet red fruit notes than the herb green / grapefruit rind notes of the first batch.
Side by Side comparison
When nosing these two batches side by side the difference is readily apparent.
Batch 1 nose has grapefruit rind, lemon zest, bright fresh zingy tang is at the fore with warm malt notes in the background. Slight ethereal notes of warm pear/ melon are in there as well but well hidden.
Batch 2 Nose The nose has changed with more rounded wood notes to the fore with sweeter toffee elements. One of the key differences over batch 1, apart from the green notes being replaced with sweeter/mature wood notes, is the increased depth and intensity. There are more cereal and nutty aromas coming through. That said the range is narrower with more compact profile.
Batch 1 Palate. Effectively these two batches can be completely assessed by nose alone as the palate carries on the same signature differences. The additional highlights from the batch 1 palate is the white pepper and light oiliness. As mentioned above the oily texture is light and has a herbaceous tone that is more reminiscent of some lowland Scotch distilleries pot still rather than traditional Irish pot still. There is light dusting of sweet candy notes there which were apparent more like malt sweet on the nose.
Batch 2 Palate. Again the nose has it… with those toffee sweet notes and plain buttery nutty notes. The increased depth and intensity comes through on the palate and the compact nature also comes through. Red dried fruit comes through now and there is a more general warmth from the overall effect. More oily notes as well now and the body has more texture.
So.. Conclusion….. Batch 2 has more signature notes that more traditional Irish whiskey drinkers will be familiar but it still retains a lightness and a slight green note . It has lost the bright green zesty notes and white pepper. the layers are more compressed and the balance has changed.
I look forward to Batch 3 for a simple reason. To be able to sit with 3 whiskeys and trace the development of this new innovative liquid within 3 glasses at the same time will be fantastic. To be clear I can sense that this Teeling SPS will always have a distinct new profile which is great.
Teeling could have decided to have done things differently. They could have judged it best to wait and produce a more generally more familiar whiskey SPS profile (which batch 2 is closer to), but I, for one, applaud them for not doing so..