Dram and Drag: Teeling Small Batch / by AB Mann

Friday I found myself with a few friends at the Malt House on the East Side. If you're not familiar (1) it would behoove you to visit, even on a Friday night when it gets loud. It's the only place I've been in Wisconsin that captures the Irish pub feel. Small, jovial, with warm and inviting bones with a little bit of bar hard edge. The delightful irony that I was drinking whiskey sitting in a reclaimed church pew was not lost.

I am very clearly an Irish whiskey (2) guy. Nearly all of my top whiskeys are Irish or start with an Irish whiskey character - malt and caramel, light body. I was pleased to see something very new on their menu: Teeling Small Batch whiskey. It was new in two sense: new to the menu and new to distribution. Teeling has (sorta) just started.

The family itself has been distilling whiskey around for 230 years only a few years under current naming The Teeling family sold their original distillery to Jameson around the beginning of the 20th century and this incarnation was spun off after Jim Beam bought the second incarnation in 2011.

The interweaving of old world distilling knowledge and modern sensibility is apparent in the Small Batch I drank last night. It is, at its core, a light (3) and malty Irish whiskey. Where it forks from expectation is in the intensity of the malt flavors. Each taste itself is smooth and caramel tinged so that I am left with the over all impression of a wildly malty drink is curious.

The secret, I think, is in the body. Irish whiskies evaporate more quickly on the tongue. This one, because of it, insinuates malt and caramel over your entire mouth thus allowing those flavors to build over time. Further, the spice you get on the middle and end, which is created by finishing in rum barrels (4), is draped in that same sweetness making that less intense sip to sip. But it similarly builds over the entire drink.

Teeling Small Batch is a clever whiskey and I am, for lack of a better word, intrigued to find the rest of their line.

Check out their intro video below.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆




  1. Shame on you. You need to go if you like any of the following:
    1. Whiskey, especially American because if the size of their selection.
    2. Trappist beer.
    3. Freedom

  2. With an "e".

  3. It's that lighter body which makes Irish whiskies so drinkable. They do not weigh on the palette. It is also why Irish whiskies are mediocre mixers.
  4. I've not seen other spirits aged in rum barrels. It is interesting and encapsulates Teeling's old world sensibilities with modern affectation.