Review: Teeling Whiskey Gets Innovative With Oak

The Dublin distillery’s latest Wonders of Wood release has a uniquely Swedish influence

May 29, 2024 4:08 pm
Teeling Wonders of Wood
Teeling's third Wonders of Wood release was matured in virgin Swedish oak.

What we’re drinking: Teeling Whiskey Single Pot Still Virgin Swedish Oak

Where it’s from: The Teeling Whiskey Company, which was founded in 2012. The distillery opened in 2015, making it the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years. This is the third edition of the distillery’s Wonders of Wood series. 

Why we’re drinking this: One of our favorite whiskey distilleries (not just for Irish whiskey but for whiskey in general), Teeling is decidedly innovative, often in very award-winning ways. 

“We’re trying to open up people’s minds to what Irish whiskey can be,” says Teeling Master Distiller Alex Chasko. “I think Wonders of Wood is a great series for us to try and launch expressions that are not typical for Irish whiskey.”

Prior Wonders of Wood releases were aged in virgin chinkapin oak and virgin Portuguese oak, both of which offered unique flavor profiles and were decidedly delicious. 

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The new release finds Teeling’s Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (a blend of 50% malted barley and 50% unmalted barley) undergoing a full four to five year maturation in virgin Swedish oak, a rare white oak sourced from the Nordic region of Europe. “I hadn’t worked with Swedish Oak before,” Chasko admits. “But I knew Swedish distilleries had, and we’d heard good things about it.” 

Still, each release is a challenge, especially for a distillery trying to impart new flavors. “The Portuguese Oak was strong and very unique,” Chasko says. “We would do tastings and people would say, ‘It’s got this blue cheese taste and a burning rubber nose, but we love it.’” 

While you won’t probably see the distillery use much Irish oak (says Chasko: “It’s kind of similar to French oak, so as long as the French keep mass producing that in large quantities…”), the brand has partnered with the Tree Council of Ireland, which sees each release in the Wonders of Wood Series plant an acre of native Irish trees in various areas across Ireland. 

How it tastes: Coming in at 50% ABV, you’ll still find a lot of tropical fruit, malt and caramel in here, along with some candied ginger, nutmeg and molasses. There’s also an oak spice note I couldn’t quite place, which Chasko suggests (correctly) was almost “botanical.” If you told me this was an Irish whiskey aged in an ex-rum barrel and an ex-wine barrel, I wouldn’t have been surprised. 

It’s great and just different enough to be memorable. We’re already looking forward to next year’s fourth edition, which apparently will see oak with a Carpathian origin. 

Fun fact: Teeling’s approach to finding new wood types can be unorthodox. “Let’s say you find a broker with seven or eight unique wood types,” Chasko says. “You take this shotgun approach, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, I think the Swedish one has an interesting taste profile.’ So you talk to this person in our visitor center who’s from Sweden and ask, ‘Maddie, do you know anyone in Sweden making a wooden barrel?’ And she’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

From there, Chasko says it was just a matter of Googling and “getting some information breadcrumbs” until they found a small Swedish town with a cooperage that could deliver what the distillery needed (with visitor center Maddie as a translator). 

Where to buy: Teeling Whiskey Single Pot Still Virgin Swedish Oak will be available in most U.S. states for $99.


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