Enjoying the very best of Ireland: Cracking a bottle of Teeling 30 year-old Single Malt

 By: NickO : January 12th, 2020-17:00

I have four true loves in this world: my wife, my Cornish Rex Malcolm, watches and whiskey. Two of these passions constantly deplete my bank account, so thank God for my cat Malcolm and whiskey. Regarding the latter, I have spent the last few years exploring the depth and breadth of Japanese whisky with occasional saunters over to the “New World” producers of Taiwan and India. But recently I have been excited to return to my roots and re-experience what got me started in this pursuit in the first place – Irish Whiskey.

And so I set about to find an exemplary bottle of the good stuff and what a bottle of Irish whiskey I found! I was fortunate to get my hands on a bottle of Teeling 30 year-old Single Malt, presently the second oldest expression to come out of Ireland today behind its slight older sibling, the Teeling 33 year-old. These are extremely limited releases, the 33yo was only 275 bottles and the 30yo was 500 bottles, so I’m excited I managed to snag one.

The 30 was distilled in 1987 and it makes you think for a second what were you doing in that year? I was in England studying hard at school as we’d be the first year of GCSE guinea pigs the following year. My beloved Liverpool were top of the table and would win the league that year. They’d do it again in the 1989-90 season and not again since. Ronald Reagan was President and Maggie Thatcher was the Prime Minister. The mega-hit of the year was “La Bamba” by Los Lobos and “Platoon” took home the Oscar for best film. 30 years is a long time in the life of a human, but boy can that time do some wonderful things to a whiskey in a barrel.

Good whiskey is just like good watches, it comes with box and papers 😀 What makes the 30 year old unique is it was matured first in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in ex-white burgundy wine casks. This adds a wonderful sweetness and complexity to the whiskey.

Okay, let’s crack this bad boy! First, the color is a gorgeous caramel and oh my, the nose is delightful, tons of fruit and the smell reminds me of freshly-cut grass in the summer. On the palate, it starts out with a little wood and spice (zero smoke) and then develops a beautiful rounded sweetness, like pears and apricots (but not overly-sweet as bourbon can be) with gorgeous complexity and a long, lingering finish. Bottled at 46% alcohol but drinks so smoothly you’d think it was 3%, no bite or sharpness at all. Like a fine perfume whose scent changes on the skin, the profile changes significantly from the nose to the palate to the finish. Easily one of the most satisfying whiskeys I have ever tasted, and I’ve tasted a few smile It was voted World's Best Irish Whiskey in 2019 and I can see why.  

A quick word on whiskey investment: you know, I feel sorry for people who buy whiskey merely for investment purposes. If you’re going to invest in material goods, in my opinion the best way to go is Art. You can hang a picture on a wall or put a sculpture in your home and enjoy it to the fullest up to the day you decide to sell it. Next in line comes collectibles such as cars, watches, guns, knives etc. Even if you decide not to ever use them for their intended purpose, enjoyment can still be had from the tactile experience of handling and inspecting etc. But bottom of the stack is whiskey and wine. If you decide to invest in whiskey, you can do nothing except stare at the unopened bottle until the day you sell it. And how much fun is that? Absolutely none in my books which is why every bottle I buy is opened, consumed and enjoyed with the purpose of creating some wonderful new memories. And I expect to get many great memories from this bottle! Thanks for reading and........



So where's the photo of Malcolm?

 By: kkochheiser : January 12th, 2020-17:32
My four would be a lot like yours except for my Bengal Archie.


He’s making a cameo appearance as my avatar 😀 [nt]

 By: NickO : January 12th, 2020-17:38
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 By: kkochheiser : January 12th, 2020-17:47
Years ago I had a Cornish Rex in charcoal named Sneaky Pete. What a wonderful boy!


Sneaky is right! They are such awesomely strange and wonderful little animals, as much marsupial or simian as feline. Not really “cats” at all. Bengals are gorgeous, too! [nt]

 By: NickO : January 12th, 2020-18:13
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 By: kkochheiser : January 12th, 2020-19:08
The little girl who lived next door asked if I had a monkey? Pete would ride on my shoulder and I’m sure that’s what it looked like. I miss the boy!

By the way, that looks like a wonderful dram! These days I get my best from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society but that looks stunning! I’ve never seen it before.


Malcolm is a shoulder rider, too 😀

 By: NickO : January 12th, 2020-19:32
I think if you push their ears down a little, they all look like baby yodas, LOL.

Teeling is one of the large, great Irish distilleries along with Midleton (who own Jameson), Bushmills, Kilbeggan and Dingle, among others. There are so many great Scotch whiskys, I think at times the Irish can be overlooked. But this bottle is as good as any 25+ year old Scotch I own.


I’ve had many long nights on Whiskey and Woken up the next morning with no memory!😟 Cheers Dave [nt]

 By: BeckyJax1 : January 12th, 2020-19:10
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I much enjoyed your text and just had a whiskey myself. You describe it perfectly! [nt]

 By: Reuven Malter : January 12th, 2020-21:08
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Thanks Reuven, I had fun putting this together! 😀 [nt]

 By: NickO : January 13th, 2020-08:57
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Thanks for your review, NickO. I don't know a lot about Whisky, but you gave me the will to start! [nt]

 By: amanico : January 12th, 2020-23:19
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You should give whisky a consideration as there is a lot to discover [nt]

 By: COUNT DE MONET : January 13th, 2020-00:45
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Indeed! [nt]

 By: amanico : January 13th, 2020-14:04
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Happy to be a whiskey enabler at any time 😀 [nt]

 By: NickO : January 13th, 2020-08:57
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LOL! [nt]

 By: amanico : January 13th, 2020-14:04
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Beautifully written review, makes me want to kick off my first American week of the year by becoming a whisky collector!😀🥃 [nt]

 By: FabR : January 12th, 2020-23:31
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Cheers Fab!

 By: NickO : January 13th, 2020-08:50
Or Slainte as they say in Ireland 😀

Same thoughts here regrding whisk(e)y investments

 By: COUNT DE MONET : January 13th, 2020-00:44
What is the point in that, if you are a whiskey drinker?

I am new to whisky and have not gone over 18 years single malts and as much as it looks like it will stay like this.

The reason is that there are already some  fantastic whiskies or bourbons under or just over 100 Euro, that offer an amazing taste.

I agree with you, Count, there are some amazing whiskies to be found around the 100 Euro price point

 By: NickO : January 13th, 2020-08:19
And I also feel there’s a natural quality improvement around 18 years of maturation, so many great 18yo choices. One could be very content to enjoy these whiskies and never go further.

For me, my whiskey journey looks a lot like my watch journey. As I learn more and discover more, so I appreciate, what at first appeared small differences, all the more. There was a time I thought Maurice LaCroix watches were the bomb. And then I discovered IWC. Later, I found Patek and after that, the Independents. In each of these stages, my personal definition of “what constitutes good finishing?” changed. While I still appreciate IWC today, I know not to compare their finishing with Kari Voutilainen. 

Same with whiskey. The maturation process can add extra layers, depth and complexity to a whiskey. Sometimes, not always! I’ve found my ability and desire to discern these differences and appreciate them has improved over time. Funny aside, my wife got a Glenfiddich sampler as a gift, a small bottle of the 12yo, 15yo, and 18yo. I also had the 25yo at home. She decided to test me and see if I could tell the difference by giving me a small blind test pour of these four. I correctly identified all four.... from the nose 😀 I’m not sure I could have even done that through a taste-test twenty years ago when I started.

So whiskey for me is very much like watches - enjoy your personal journey of discovery wherever that takes you!


Ah, NickO, me lad!

 By: TheMadDruid : January 13th, 2020-08:13
You've come through gloriously!
I recently read about this bottling and couldn't find it. I tried Teeling's Single Grain which, frankly, I do not care for. I much prefer Red Breast in that price range. But what you have before you must be nectar for the Gods-nothing but absolute praise for this stuff. Do you drink Midleton's; or Powers? Just curious how it compares.

This is the best Irish Whiskey I’ve ever tasted 😀

 By: NickO : January 13th, 2020-08:39
I’ve had Red Breast 12yo, don’t think I’ve tried Powers. I’m on the hunt for some rare Midleton branded whiskey, but I have a number of their Jameson whiskies including the 18yo and The Bow Street 18yo. The comparison is not ever close, it’s silly. It’s like these other whiskies have turned up to a knife fight and been greeted by a howitzer 😀 It’s just a really great whiskey, I even prefer it to my beloved Yamazaki 18. 


It sounds fantastic!

 By: TheMadDruid : January 13th, 2020-10:47

Enjoy. I would try Powers gold label 12 year old reserve or any

 By: Hulk : January 13th, 2020-14:13
Of the older Red Breast 15 or 20 year old aged whiskey without breaking the bank. The Powers is very smooth and sweet.

Was this whiskey produced by Teelings? as Teelings only started out as Cooley distillery back in 87 but it didn't open till 89? A lot of whiskey start ups here have whiskey matured and bottled private label until they have their own aged batches.


Thanks for the suggestions, I'll have to track those down!

 By: NickO : January 13th, 2020-14:40
This expression is part of the Vintage Reserve Collection. They've released a few others beforehand, including in 2014 the 30 Year Platinum release which was distilled in 1983, four years before John Teeling founded The Cooley Distillery and six years before it opened. So clearly Teeling acquired the barrel(s) for this expression. Given it was only 250 bottles, and the present 33yo is only 275 bottles, these might have just been one barrel each. At 500 bottles, this 30yo sounds like two barrels. I bet all four barrels, amongst others, were purchased at some point by John Teeling, their exact history would be fascinating!


That's really interesting. Great to know. Savour every sip. [nt]

 By: Hulk : January 13th, 2020-14:49
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Going through Dublin airport this morning they had one there

 By: Hulk : January 13th, 2020-21:47
Plus the usual very rare Middleton. Should have bought those for the years my kids were born but there still available. Saw this other you may be aware of . Ps it's 21 years for the red breast not 20. Typo. Cheers S

That's great! I had to smile: The three best places to buy Irish Whiskey, (1) Directly from the distillery (2) The Celtic Whiskey Shop (3) Dublin Airport :) [nt]

 By: NickO : January 14th, 2020-10:24
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Going through the other terminal this morning

 By: Hulk : January 15th, 2020-22:49
They had this one. Twice the price and only 3 years older! Also I've been told the tullamore dew is good too. Won't hassle you anymore😉

LOL, not hassling me at all!

 By: NickO : January 16th, 2020-10:59
That’s the Teeling 33yo I referenced in my initial post. Limited to 275 bottles and sold out at the distillery and The Celtic Whiskey Shop. I’d love to try that and see how it compares to the 30yo, but at that price point I’d want to start with a 3cc sample size (if I can ever find one) before jumping into a full bottle. That’s too expensive for me to leave any room for disappointment.


If you don’t mind a little wait

 By: TheMadDruid : January 13th, 2020-15:26
try the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin. They have quite a few private bottlings of Midleton and Powers. They ship here.
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