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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Teeling's Hybrid Theory

Earlier this year, all eyes were Ireland bound for the biggest news surrounding Irish whiskey in decades.  The Cooley Whiskey Company had reached an incredible $95 Million agreement to sell the company to American whiskey giants, Beam Global, owners of Jim Beam, alongside Islay powerhouse, Laphroaig.  With such a war chest to play with, one wondered what the Teelings, Jack and John - former owners of Cooley, would do next... retire to the Bahamas? Yachts?? Party???

Well, they decided to do what they clearly know best and start a brand new whiskey company.  

In April they announced the birth of The Teeling Whiskey Company, initially deciding to focus on some stocks of aged whiskeys they had acquired.  However, their most recent release, Hybrid, has now firmly put the new company on the map, with the same spirit of independence the Teelings approached Cooley with.    

Hybrid claims to create a brand new category of whisk(e)y - effectively bringing together Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky in the same bottle.  Whilst it's not the first time this novel idea has being employed by the Teelings - Cooleys & similarly progressive distillers Bruichladdich partnered up to previously release Celtic Nations (a blend of single malts from Bruichladdich and Cooley, whose use of the phrase 'Celtic Malt' got the SWA totally rattled, subsequently banishing it to the naughty cupboard)  Hybrid is the first release for the Teeling Whiskey Company and is comprised of a marriage of ten year old Cooley with Bruichladdich single malt, which have been aged together for a further eight years. 

1,400 bottles of Hybrid No.1 Edition will be released this month, retailing for £30.  

Now type the word 'Hybrid' into google and you're immediately presented with a load of pretty boring looking cars (save for the wonderfully curvy Porsche 918 Hybrid)  So is this idea of a hybrid whisk(e)y a legitimate one, or is there a reason why this hasn't been explored successfully before?  

Let's find out what all the fuss is about... and more's the point, let's hope this Hybrid is more like the Porsche, rather than the Toyota Prius...

Teeling Whiskey Company -  Hybrid - No.1 Edition - 44.7%  

Nose: Initial soft fruit notes, some dusty books, white pepper, buttered brown toast and a slight waft of old lobster pots/sea air/iodine. With a little time, some vegetive notes develop (mashed potato and green beans.)  Direct and very appealing. 

Palate: Very thick and rich on the palate, tongue coating and silky.  The peat smoke combines with a sweetness to great effect -  think a smoky version of golden syrup and you're somewhere nearby.  Further notes of green apple skin and liquorice can be found with the addition of  water, which really opens the Hybrid up. It is moreish, easy to drink and quite frankly, an ideal session whisk(e)y, based on its easy-going palate.

Finish: Fresh, with smoky overtones and a hint of drying oak.

Overall:  Well... that works.  Congratulations to the Teelings -  despite the fact that this is such a simple idea, combining two distinctly different styles of whisk(e)y together and re-maturing them again is a cracker. £30 a pop makes this pretty much a no-brainer if you're getting a few friends round for a bit of a session too.    

 Hybrid...high marks indeed.