We wrote about Teeling’s Vintage Reserve Collection 24 Year Single Malt in our list of really, really expensive bottles of booze because this baby goes for about $500 a bottle. The Teeling family has a rich distilling history that dates back to the late 1700s, but the family opened a brand new operation in 2015. It’s actually the first new distillery in Dublin in more than 125 years. The long-range goal is to create well-aged, traditional Irish whiskey in copper pot stills. In the meantime, they’re bottling some really choice stuff sourced from other distilleries. They put out a flagship Irish whiskey, called Small Batch, as well as a single grain, a single malt and an unaged whiskey called Spirit of Dublin, that’s actually produced in the new Teeling distillery. This 24-year-old single malt is part of their sourced portfolio (they also put out a 33-year-old version), and limited to just a 5,000-bottle run. They’re billing it as some of the “oldest Irish single malt in the world,” aged in used bourbon casks before being rested in Sauternes wine barrels. It won the World’s Best Irish Single Malt honor at the 2016 World Whiskies Awards. So it’s kind of a big deal.
So, what does a $500 bottle of Irish whiskey taste like? Pretty damn good, honestly. It doesn’t pour as dark as I’d expect given the age and various barrel treatments, and it has a lot of heat on the nose, as well as some faint notes of dark fruit.
That dark fruit carries through on the taste, where it mixes with some intense notes of toffee and butterscotch. There’s certainly some heat that plays out like a bit of pepper on the backend but the mouthfeel is buttery and full, coming off a little honey-like. There’s some smoke mixed in on the backend of the sip, but it’s nothing like the peaty single malts that you find coming out of Scotland. This is the kind of whiskey that you should just drink neat—it’s that good and it’s that expensive. But I’m a journalist, so I put a chunk of ice in my second glass just to see what happens.
And this is what happens: On the nose, everything slips away except for strong hits of toffee. The butterscotch takes over the sip, which loses some of the honey consistency (as well as the smoke), but becomes incredibly decadent and sweet. So maybe it’s okay to drop a bit of ice in an expensive glass of whiskey like Teeling 24?
There’s a common notion that a whiskey can spend too much time in a barrel. That it can be aged so much, that it actually starts to denigrate. For instance, there are a lot of whiskey lovers out there that prefer the 15-year-old Pappy to the 23-year-old Pappy. Just so you know, that’s not the case with this bottle of Teeling. I haven’t had the 33-year-old yet, but 24 years seems to be a sweet spot. If you can afford it, try to track down one or two of these bottles. You won’t be sorry.
Distillery: Teeling Whiskey
City: Dublin, Ireland
Style: Irish single malt