Teeling Brabazon Bottling 49.5% – Sherry Twist?

For those who make it to Ireland and start to explore beyond the big daddy Midleton, known best for its Jameson brand, there are a plethora of options… yet still only a small yet growing number of distillers.

Teeling is one of them and relatively recently launched a new “Brabazon Bottling” series – to explore maturation experiments with fortified wine – kicking off with this Sherry avatar and then launching a Port version for the 2nd series. Our host had tried both and knew to reverse the tasting order so we had the 2nd first and the 1st second. But what matters more than series and tasting order is what we thought!

Teeling Brabazon Sherry 49.5% (Series 1, 02/2018)

  • Nose – Heavier than the Port, dark plums, fruity, sharp cheddar, direct, liquorice, black olives or capers… and after the 1st sip, it was an explosion of Christmas qualities, dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, ginger…. then settling into a caramel with a hint of salt and toast
  • Palate – Usual… like a sweet apple and ginger chutney, kiwis, cloves, chocolate… while wasn’t massively complex, it had a strong character, quite tasty with a light Christmas pudding
  • Finish – Beautiful! The finish was really long… really really long… with a curl of liquorice

Early reactions to this one after the 1st sip was “I like it! I really like it!” With comments about how it simply envelops into a nice warm hug… In many ways it was the yin to the yang of the Port with a slower start on the nose, blooming fully on the palate, and slowly tapering into a lingering finish.

Which sparked a lively comparison between the two non-chill filtered Brabazon Bottling boys… Which was preferred? Why?

Some were decidedly against this one. Finding it a bit challenging and lacking in a certain something required to make an appealing tipple. Others had the opposite reaction, really enjoying it.

I’ll admit I was in the 2nd camp and found it an interesting twist on the sociable quality I’ve come to expect from Teeling

And what do the folks at Teeling have to say?

The Brabazon Bottling Series is a limited edition collection of unique Irish Single Malts capturing the full impact and flavour crafted through fortified wine cask maturation.

Series No. 1 focuses on sherry cask maturation and consists of a range of carefully selected sherry cask aged whiskeys producing a full flavoured sherry influenced Irish Single Malt. This bottling consists of a vatting of 6 different sherry casks, carefully chosen for their complementary character. The Brabazon Bottling Series 1 is bottled at 49.5% ABV with no chill filtration allowing for all the natural flavours of this whiskey to be retained. Limited to just 12,500 bottles, this is a whiskey to savour.

Teeling’s Tasting Notes:

  • Nose – Earthy dried fruit and roasted hazelnut, with marmalade, peach, plum and burnt toffee.
  • Taste – A rich sherry sweetness, red berries, nuttiness and toffee, with a hint of of liquorice and clove.
  • Finish – Lingering mixed spice, trail-mix, crisped marshmallow, dry tannins and spice with toasted wood.

What else was picked up Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

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Teeling Brabazon Port 49.5% – Hot Toddy Time?

After the delightful Glendalough, we were primed and ready for more Irish explorations!

Our Whisky Lady host brought back an interesting duo – a new Brabazon Bottling series from Teeling that explores Sherry in the 1st and this Port in the 2nd. Each series has different bottlings – with month and year on the label.

We started with the Port, bottled in September 2018… What did we think?

Teeling Brabazon Port 49.5% (Series 2, 09/2018)

  • Nose – Cinnamon, wet leaves, wood, musty, camel leather, over ripe apples… then shifted into sweet dry spices of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg… and from apples to citrus orange and apricots… with a lively kick
    • After the 1st sip, became quite sweet – biscuits, a nice custard, lemon chiffon cake. It simply needed time to open into a delicious desert
  • Palate – Hmm… began with quite a bit of oak, tannins, spiced cherries, orange marmalade with bitter orange peel, smooth, shifting between a sour amla and marmalade
    • After some time, we returned and I found it quite bitter, it had a slightly queer or weird character… interesting when it veered more towards a tart marmalade, challenging when it became more like a bitter gourd like karela
  • Finish – Bitter warm spice, like absinthe soaked burnt sugar, a bit sharp…

This one sparked quite a bit of debate. We thought it had an interesting nose that became quite lovely. However the palate was quite mixed.

One lady quipped it was the kind of whiskey that was like a train with a great start but somewhere in the middle “Bro! I need to get to the next station!

And what did we mean by this? Both the nose and finish received a thumbs up. However the taste simply wasn’t for everyone’s palate. Yet for others, this was a clear preference.

For me? I couldn’t help but think of a hot toddy… Something about the finish in particular made me speculate if it might make a rather superb one!

And what do the folks at Teeling have to say?

Jack Teeling, Founder and Managing Director of Teeling Whiskey, commented “Our new Irish Single Malt brings together two famous Dublin family names – the Teelings and the Brabazons. By making reference to the historical Brabazon name, we are telling the story of why our family first came to the Liberties area of Dublin. But more importantly we are telling the story of why we are here now. Our aim with the whiskey was to create a full bodied tasting experience for people who enjoy the added complexity and taste sherry casks impart, and at the same time continuing our goal to expand the spectrum of flavours available from premium Irish whiskeys.”

And specifically anything about their 2nd series featuring port?

Not on the Teeling website that I could find, however the Celtic Whisky Shop folks have these tasting notes:

Taste Smooth and mouth-filling. The fruit characters are fresh and lively with a delicious strawberry shortcake front end backed up by malted grains, vanilla and dried fruits. The finish is drier and oakier with some furry tannins and exotic spices creeping through.
Nose Soft and aromatic with touches of freshly baked fruit loaf, apricots, strawberry jam, dates, fresh figs, honey and malted milk biscuits.
Colour Bright gold with a very slightly pink hue.

We continued on to the Brabazon Bottling with Sherry… and contrasted and compared the duo. Some preferred the Port, others the Sherry. I’d be curious to hear from others familiar with both which they prefer and why?

What else was picked up Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

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Glendalough 13 year Mizunara 46% – A “dreamy” dram!

Our Whisky Lady host regaled us with tales of the bounty to be discovered at the Celtic Whiskey Shope & Wines on the Green in Dublin. She and her husband had their attention focused on the goal of finding a unique Irish whiskey to bring back to Bombay… asking, trying and finally simply being guided by the knowledgeable staff to pick this bottle, available only in that store.

So what is Glendalough?

It is a newer craft distillery in the Wicklow Mountains that makes Whiskey, Gin & Poitín. The man on their bottle is St Kevin, who is credited with founding in the 6th century a monastic settlement in Glendalough. While of Irish royalty, the monk sought out the wilderness and the image is inspired by stories of his standing in water for hours, arms outstretched in prayer…  til a blackbird laid her eggs on his hand, which he then took as a sign, continuing to stand until they hatched. Or so the story goes.

And what made this particular whiskey unique?

Aside from being bottled for the shop, it was their use of Mizunara Japanese oak in the finish, after aging in ex-bourbon casks…

But what matters most to us is… What was the whiskey like?

Glendalough 13 year 46%

  • Nose – Pineapple, sea salt & caramel, a bit of dusty sawdust – white wood – fresh and dry, floral, honey suckle, frangipani, orange and lemon drops, bright and cheerful.. as it opened more, the sweeter it became… dripping with honey, shifting into caramel… then we discovered apple sauce, mango bite candies, vanilla candle wax. Setting aside to come back much later – it was pure marshmallows!
  • Palate – Yum! Citrus, mandarin orange segments, honey, touch of spice, smooth yet with substance, not heavy but a nice orchard fruit swirl, a mix of light sweet spices like clove, allspice, etc.
  • Finish – Continued with the sweet spices, medium, warm and sweet
  • Water – Didn’t even consider it!

A friendly late summer dram, becoming sweeter as it opened. In the end we pronounced it a delightful “dreamy” dram. An easy one to return to, sipping, simply enjoying with no complication or fuss.

And what do the folks at Glendalough have to say?

Extremely rare, and expensive, our virgin Japanese mizunara, comes from Hokkaido, the rugged most northern island of Japan. It is coopered to order in Japan’s only independent cooperage, by Japan’s oldest cooper. Mizunara amplifies much of what is already there while layering on more vanilla smoothness, sandlewood notes and even a little coconut, or gorse flower if you’re from our neck of the woods.

This whiskey has very different and exotic flavours compared with what you’d expect from an Irish single malt. And there’s not a lot of it around! This is one to snap up and savour.

  • The nose. Honeycomb, vanilla, apricot, and citrus. 
  • The taste. Velvety smooth with more vanilla, fudge, rock candy, peach and marmalade followed by sandalwood, cinnamon, and oriental spices. 
  • The finish. Put it this way… “The longest milk chocolate finish in the history of Irish Whiskey” Jim Murray.

In case you are curious, it can be found for €100.00 at – where else? – the Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines on the Green.

Here is the Irish trio our Whisky Lady brought back to Mumbai for our sampling pleasure:

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Whisky Ladies Irish Select – Glendalough, Teeling Brabazon Bottling Port + Sherry

Our Whisky Ladies in Mumbai love exploring – both different drams and different parts of the world. So when combined, brilliant experiences are the result! For September, one Whisky Lady shared stories and special selections with us from her recent trip to Ireland!

Her whiskey tour took her all over and she shared how incredibly difficult it was to narrow the choice down to a trio of whiskies, sweetened by special chocolates created to pair with Irish whiskies and music with decidedly celtic notes.

What did we try?

Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

There was no doubt that the Glendalough was a crowd pleasure but it was an interesting debate between the Port and Sherry Teeling duo – different elements appealed to different women. And it is that diversity that makes tasting together such a pleasure – discerning, discussing, debating over our dram discoveries.

It was also fitting that the tasting notes for our evening were captured on the last blank page of my whisky notebook which contained scribbles from over two years of Mumbai tastings.

This wasn’t our 1st Irish evening… Curious? Here’s a few or check the Irish whiskies page.

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Irish Whiskies – Redbreast Lustau Edition 46%

We are no stranger to Midleton’s pot still Redbreast, however our host was determined to add a “twist” by tracking down a special edition – in this case one which features the influence of finishing in 1st fill Oloroso sherry butts for a year.

So what did we think?

Redbreast Lustau Edition 46%

  • Nose – A robust start then settled down, light greed wood, creamy, loads of dried prunes, brandy butter almond, sherry rich, even marshmallows, that old style home-made sweet syrupy orange cordial, very sweet, tobacco leaves, lemon barley squash, sugar cane citrus… then after sipping more of the woods and leaves came to the fore, still retaining a lovely sweet edge
  • Taste – Lots of fruits, wood and sweet tobacco
  • Finish – Spice that creeps up and gives a good wake-up, really quite good – long strong with a distinctive clove studded orange, in subsequent sips had a delightful lasting quality

It had a youthful ‘vigour’ about it, tempered by the sherry richness that made for a rather good counterpoint.

Even after setting aside and revisiting – this one remained interesting. Losing some of the extra saccharin sweetness replaced with nice fruity sweet spices, some oils, wet leaves with a solid sherry quality that remained.

The triple “prunes” quality paired fabulously well with cigars… which naturally meant the evening shifted to quaffing this dram above the others.

What do the folks behind Redbreast have to say?

The newest addition to the Redbreast family, Redbreast Sherry Finish Lustau Edition offers fans a new way to experience our signature sherry taste, thanks to an old friendship. Born of a unique collaboration between the Bodegas Lustau and the Midleton Distillery, Redbreast Sherry Finish Lustau Edition is initially matured in traditional bourbon and sherry casks for a period of 9-12 years. It is then finished for 1 additional year in first fill hand selected sherry butts that have been seasoned with the finest Oloroso sherry from the prestigious Bodegas Lustau in Jerez. We are confident Redbreast fans will enjoy this new angle on Redbreast’s beloved sherry character.

  • Nose: Rich infusion of dark fruits, prunes, dates and figs with liquorice, marzipan, toasted oak and Redbreast spices.
  • Taste: Creamy pot still with Redbreast spices balanced with richness of sherry finish and contribution of fresh Spanish oak.
  • Finish: Endless. Sweetness and pot-still spices endure while oloroso sherry and Spanish oak have the last word.

As for cost, a most reasonable £48 at The Whisky Exchange – pas mal.

Here is what else we played with during our latest greatest Irish whiskey evening:

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Irish Whiskies – Green Spot Bordeaux 46%

The “Spot” whiskies come from Mitchell & Son with the Bordeaux finish a new variation of Green Spot.

Now I will admit upfront I’ve had some mixed experiences lately with wine finishes… and while I’m happy to settle down with a Green Spot in sociable evening, I feared this friendly green orchard fruits and honeyed dram may not take well to being finished up to two years in  Bordeaux barriques from Château Léoville Barton.

I’m exceedingly pleased to share my fears were groundless and, if anything, this was a favourite of our Irish evening!

So what did we discover?

Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton Bordeaux Finish 46%

  • Nose – From the bourbon we found vanilla and banana… then the sherry elements of dried fruits, nuts and prunes came to the fore… followed by the tannins, tart black cherries from the Bordeaux all with a lovely spice, pungent and almost a bit astringent… a few even caught a whiff of sulfur? As it settled in, a nice vanilla cake and custard with berries and a dash of sweet spices predominated
  • Taste – Dry, yet with sweetness. The 2nd sip revealed a clear influence of the wine, fruity, more of the sweet spices, overall pronounced most enjoyable
  • Finish – A lovely spice, juniper, sour cherries, long and easy

We found it was a mix of of the casks in which the pot still whiskey matured – bourbon, sherry and Bordeaux – and truly felt all three elements influenced the result, particularly in the aromas.

There was no doubt this was an easy one to return too, eminently friendly with enough going on to not get bored. The nose especially was delightful and kept its sweet honey and other elements quite nicely even after setting aside for some time.

What do the folks at Mitchell have to say?

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton has initially been matured in traditional sherry and bourbon casks, then finished in French oak wine casks from the renowned Château Léoville Barton, Bordeaux.

  • Nose – The French oak drives the initial aroma with crisp woodland notes added to the spicy Pot Still character. The wine seasoning brings a floral perfume and ripe berries to the archetypal orchard fruits.
  • Taste – The familiar mouth coating is a very satisfying balance of oak and spices. Some vanilla sweetness works in harmony with the dry orchard fruits and French oak, combining effortlessly with barley grains to complete the complexity.
  • Finish – For the finish, the rich French oak slowly fades leaving the wine & the spices of France & Ireland with the last word.

As for the price? We’d say for this quality, it is exceedingly reasonable at £58 if you find it, as this was,  at The Whisky Exchange in London.

Here is what else we explored during our latest greatest Irish whiskey evening:

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Irish Whiskies – Method and Madness 40%

I have to admit… I was rather curious about this one. It is fairly normal to find whiskies matured in bourbon and sherry casks, but Chestnut?

And what exactly is Method and Madness? The short answer is Midleton distillery. The longer one is this brand opens the doors to more experimentation. As they put it:

There will be trial, and error, and brilliant bottled breakthroughs that start with “What if?” Restless hearts making inspired spirits.

Now we love experimentation and can take a few ‘misses’ to discover those remarkable ‘hits’! So…. what did we discover?

Method and Madness Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey 40%

  • Nose – Sherry, varnish, nuts, bananas, red liquorice, a bit dusty, fruit, truth be told there was something a bit peculiar… almost headache inducing… which sounds awful yet wasn’t
  • Taste – Flat, thin body, a bit salty and a bit sour, green tea?
  • Finish – We began to think of particularly Indian flavours – chaat, churan and amchoor… with their distinctive tart sourness, dash of unripe mango fruit

This lead to amusing speculation that it could pair well with pani puri... or even make drunken version of it!

But did we like it? While it wasn’t a smashing success, it wasn’t a total disaster either.

And the revisit after sampling all other Irish whiskies that eve? Just reconfirmed our perception that it it has a distinctive sour chaat dimension

Let’s just say while interesting to try, we didn’t think it the best choice to pair with cigars.

What do the folks at Method & Madness have to say?

Single Pot Still whiskey aged in chestnut casks, a combination of what we’ve always done in Midleton and what we’ve never tried before. It’s not often we stray from the traditional oak, but one sip suggests it was well worth the deviation.

  • Nose – Red liquorice laces, fresh rosemary and mint, grated root ginger
  • Taste – Sweet fruit and spice, cinnamon toast, ripe banana
  • Finish – Aromatic green tea, dissipating fruit and spice, rich wood farewell

We read the tasting notes and could agree with red liquorice laces, herbs and definitely the green tea but not so much the balance. And guess those producing the tasting notes aren’t familiar with our desi flavours!

And the price point? At The Whisky Exchange, expect something around £65.

Here is what else we played with during our latest greatest Irish whiskey evening:

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Irish Whiskies – Dingle Triple Distilled 46.5%

By now its a known factor of Irish whiskies that while new brands may have sprouted up all over, the “juice” is likely from Cooleys (aka Tyrconnell, Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara), Bushmills or Midleton (aka Jameson and all its variants). And while many have the desire to start their own distillery, until they have the wherewithal to do so, buy and bottle.

The story is a bit different with Dingle. In this case, the distillery makes their own pot still whiskey – with this their 3rd batch. They also make a quintuple distilled vodka and a London Dry style gin with mostly Kerry county ingredients – a smart way to start earning from their distillery while waiting for the whiskey.

Dingle Triple Distilled Batch 3 46.5%, Bottle 12686

  • Nose – A spike of grapes, compost, quite vegetal, old banana, nuts, dry wood, leaves, then the sweetness started to creep in with boiled sweets, lemon zest, vanilla, even a sweet dusty powder…
  • Taste – For one taster it was an immediate “yummy!” For others, it was innocuous, flat, a bit of tart lemon then sweet… by the 2nd sip, no sweet –> straight to bitter and sour
  • Finish – This was an odd one… the finish began bitter with a light burn, then sour, even a bit of rancid walnut, wood… and overall what we would describe as “khatta!

In the aromas, initially the port influence was almost impossible to discern. However as it opened up, it became more apparent. Yet the palate didn’t reward… and the finish? Let’s just say if bitter and sour is your thing, then this one is for you… but for most of us? Nope, didn’t quite hit the mark.

So it was set aside to see if it gained any other elements or shifted after being open for an hour.

And what did we find? Not very different, still quite sour… just not happening for most of us. Gotta be honest, we had hoped for something more.

But like all things whisk(e)y, exploring and experimenting has its amazing rewards and a few disappointments too.

It could be said that Dingle was the first to open a new independent distillery in Ireland after 200 years… it definitely is not the last. Where Dingle is today could transform over the years… these are exceedingly early days given the first distillate was laid only in 2012 and the one we tried was the 3rd batch. So let’s see!

What do the folks at Dingle have to say?

Created by the marriage of meticulously selected casks, both Bourbon and Port, this single malt Irish whiskey is a small piece of history, unique and rare. Batch No. 3 is a limited release of 13,000 bottles at 46.5% and 500 bottles at Cask Strength. It is a marriage of Bourbon and Port casks.

A burst of blue/black fruits on the nose forms a tart almost jam like sweetness on the palate with some subtle notes of citrus peels, the liquid coats the mouth like warm honey, mixed berries and marmalade linger on the tongue.

As for what would it set you back? Well, if you picked it up at The Whisky Exchange like this one was, you could be looking at £75.

Here is what else we played with during our latest greatest Irish whiskey & cigars  evening:

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Irish Whiskies – Dingle, Green Spot, Method and Madness, Redbreast

Feels like we’ve come full circle – back to another Irish whiskey evening. Our host was determined to select ones you do not normally come across!

So what did we have the pleasure of trying?

  • Dingle Triple Distilled Batch 3, 46.5% from the 1st new independent Irish distillery in 200 years
  • Method and Madness Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey 40%, matured in ex-Bourbon, Sherry and Chestnut, part of Midleton distillery’s new experimental line
  • Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton Bordeaux Finish 46%, after being aged  in bourbon and olorosso sherry casks, from Mitchel & Sons, also part of the Irish Distillers (Midleton Distillery) family
  • Redbreast Lustau Edition 46% Finished in first-fill oloroso sherry butts for a year, also part of the Midleton distillery product range

And why do I say “full circle”? Because this was not the 1st Irish Whiskey themed evening with these gents… rewind the clock to 2016 where we explored with the Whisky Ladies – Bushmills 10 year16 year21 yearSteamship + Connemara.

In that case, all but one came from the Bushmills “stable”… whereas this evening there was a distinct Irish Distillers aka Midleton Distillery bent, best known for Jameson whiskies.

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Dubai Dreams – Midleton Very Rare 2011 40%

So what does an Irish whisky have to do with Dubai? It just so happens this particular bottle was enjoyed in Dubai with an Irishman who truly appreciates his Irish whiskies.

And he wasn’t the only one… our gathering of gents had many who enjoy their whiskies… however truth be told, slowing down, sniffing and discussing the aromas before the first sip was a departure from their usual approach.

However they were kind enough to indulge my light admonishment to be a bit patient.

When I shared this was the luxury brand of Irish single malts, this caught their attention.

And it truly is. Not only is Midleton the Jameson groups premier brand, this particular bottle is a rare collectable one… these day if you are very lucky, you may find it online for around €500.

Midleton “Very Rare” is an annual limited release started in 1984 to celebrate the best of Midleton (read Jameson) distillery. Each year these bottles tend to fly off the shelf and for Midleton fans, half the fun is comparing the different expressions – particularly the “old” which had their retired master distiller Barry Crocket’s involvement vs the “new” (2014 onwards) which purely reflect their master distiller Brian Nation’s hand in the blend.

What did we find?

Midleton Very Rare 2011 No 042585 / L121731255 40%

  • Nose – A pronounced butterscotch, caramel and toffee character, sweet grass, dripping with honey, after time some vanilla cream
  • Palate – Smooth, one could even say buttery, light fruits, honey, some black pepper spice, a nice oily feel though it was also quite light and “clean” on the palate
  • Finish – Quite gentle, there but with a light touch and continued with the linear “clean” dimension
  • Water – No temptation to add… It was perfect “as is”

The quality and character of this particular blend lends an easy comparison with a Highland malt. We described it as quite “spring like” with a fresh appealing and accessible approach.

Our somewhat biased Irish sampler declared this “Simply the best!” However there clearly was concurrence. We discussed how there were no harsh notes… and would put this in the category of a lovely easy drinking dram.

We spoke of what makes Irish whisky distinctive – tends to be triple distilled, not malted, limited use of peat and judicious use of ex-sherry casks.

As the last drop was drained… there were satisfied murmurs of appreciation… what a wonderful way to kick off our evening!

Our most generous host shared a remarkable collection of drams:

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