If you are looking to break away from the traditional Jameson/Bushmills rut and experience some of the many unique whiskeys the Emerald Isle has to offer, then one of your first stops should be the Teeling Small Batch. The Teeling family has been in the whiskey making business from as far back as 1782, but this whiskey is sourced and blended before being finished in ex-rum casks—Flor de Cana rum casks, to be precise. This kind of specialty cask finishing is a rare find in Irish whiskeys, showing up much more often among Scotches. Even then, a rum cask finish is a peculiarity in the whiskey world, which is a bit of a shame considering how well the classic rum spices pair with a malty whiskey.
The rum cask finish imparts a lovely sweetness that is not over-powering but cleanly announces itself. That sweetness is kept in check by an oaky pepperiness on the palate that grounds this whiskey firmly in its Irish roots and keeps it from spiraling into dessert-whiskey territory. As an added touch, it is non-chill filtered, so the natural sweetness of the malt and grain can still be found in the mix once you introduce just a touch of cool water to your dram.
All in all, the Teeling Small Batch is a delight among Irish whiskeys that wears its uniqueness openly and proudly. Breaking from the traditional mold, Teeling shows us a clever expression of Irish ingenuity that can put a number of bigger brand names to shame. This is a whiskey to sit down and have a conversation with rather than just shoot at the bar on a night out. There is a pleasant complexity at work that will certainly reward you for your time and attention. Pour yourself a glass on a quiet night and relax with this charismatic creature—it has a lot of stories to share and just needs a moment of your time.