Teeling Small Batch was first introduced in February of 2013 – some two years before their Dublin-based distillery was established. It’s still the company’s biggest selling bottling – globally exported to over 60 markets. Small Batch is an NAS blended whiskey that’s been matured in ex-bourbon for an unspecified amount of time before the malt and grain elements are married. These are then re-racked into ex-rum casks for a 12 month finishing period. The resulting whiskey is bottled at 46% ABV and is available for a little over £30 – Master of Malt seem to have one of the best prices in the UK.
Nose: A welcoming combination of fresh and dried fruits – ripe pears and apricots alongside dehydrated banana chips. Light brown sugars push through strongly with choux pastry and grainy brown bread reflecting the marriage of malt with grain. In the background, leafy greens, cut grass and warmed soils. The addition of water broadens things out with honeydew melon, beeshoney, cut flowers and crackerbread.
Taste: A good transition from the nose, with a pleasant weight from the ABV. Blackberry jam and banana bread mingle with oaky vanilla, steeped black tea and lemon verbena. There’s still plenty of demerara sugar (rum induced?), and further sweetening from creamy fudge. Spicing is quite pronounced with perky cinnamon and anise providing both tang and bite. Reduction introduces grassiness – part fresh, part dried, alongside more defined drying oakiness.
Finish: Medium in length and predominantly focussed on the ex-bourbon cask – toffee and vanilla pods.
Teeling Small Batch is rather likable – whilst drinkability is high, there’s something of a swagger here with a delivery of confident assertive flavours. Sure, it’s generally young stuff with fairly limited complexity, but at the same time, it eschews templating itself into a derivative ‘smooth’ Irish whiskey persona. Well-made. Well priced.