Eating Abroad: Teeling Whiskey Distillery | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Eating Abroad: Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Continuing her trip to Dublin, Food Editor Adele Franghiadi reviews her experience of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, and their delicious Winter Spice Tea cocktail.

I recently had the joy of touring the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin.  Founded in 2015, this distillery is the first one to open in the city in 125 years, after the whiskey industry suffered major blows in the early 20th century until its eventual demise in 1976. Therefore, Teeling Whiskey represents an exciting revival of the Irish Whiskey business.

The tour began with a short video, explaining Teeling's aims to revive not only a national industry, but a family one too, as the Teeling brothers established the business to revive their own family’s history in distilling.  We were then moved on to the actual factory room, where we saw the entire process in action.  I won’t spoil the surprise of how whiskey is made, mainly because it is slightly beyond me, to tell the truth – you’ll just have to visit for yourself!

If it’s to be classed as Irish whiskey, the whiskey must be matured for one day longer than the Scottish minimum of three years

After a tour of the process, we were taken to the barrel room, which is actually purely decorative, but for me, was the most interesting part of the tour.  I say it’s "decorative" because the barrels on display are empty – the full barrels are stored offsite as they pose a fire risk due to being made of wood, which is filled with very flammable alcohol.

We learned that whiskey is matured in wooden barrels for a minimum of three years and a day – if it’s to be classed as Irish whiskey, it must be matured for one day longer than the Scottish minimum of three years.  Another way the Irish try to out-do the Scottish in whiskey-making is by adding an “e” to the word “whisky” – apparently, if it’s not got an “e”, it’s not Irish, although American whiskeys also add an “e” (don’t ask me why).

If you wish to sample Teeling’s 33-year matured whiskey, it’ll set you back €3,300 a bottle

Another interesting relation between American and Irish whiskey is the use of barrels.  In America, it’s illegal to use a wooden barrel more than once for whiskey maturation, so these one-use American barrels are sold to Irish distillers, who reuse them over and over to get a rich flavour.  Whiskey partly matures through gaining colour and flavour from the wood, so if it’s been used several times, it’ll have more of both.  

Something I didn’t realise is that whiskey goes into the barrels as a clear liquid – called “poitoín”, more commonly known as moonshine – and over the years, gains colour and flavour.  During this time, it also levels out in its alcohol content through evaporation.  Leading on from this, one of the reasons that older whiskeys cost more isn’t only to do with the time put into maturing them, it’s also to do with how little is left in the barrel after years of evaporation, or “angel share” where supposedly the angels steal a bit of the drink for themselves.  However, if you wish to sample Teeling’s 33-year matured whiskey, it’ll set you back €3,300 a bottle.

After the barrel room, we got to sample some of Teeling’s most-sold whiskey – the Small Batch.  This was a very smooth, caramel-scented drink, but as someone not used to whiskey-drinking, it did burn slightly.  Even so, the aftertaste was very sweet and moreish, so I kept sipping despite the initial burning sensation.

This was dangerously drinkable, owing to how sweet and festive it was

We then got to sample their “Winter Spice Tea” cocktail.  This was dangerously drinkable, owing to how sweet and festive it was – it was like drinking lemonade injected with Christmas.  I’m glad we were only allowed one small glass included in our ticket price, otherwise I would have been in trouble.  But, I did manage to note down the recipe for future reference.  

Winter Spice Tea Recipe

This drink is well worth making, especially if you already have the required spirits.

  • 40ml small batch whiskey
  • 10ml vanilla liquor
  • 10ml camomile tea
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 30ml apple-cinnamon syrup

These measurement only make around 100ml, so this “parts” recipe might be of more use for larger quantities.

  • 4 parts small batch whiskey
  • 1 part vanilla liquor
  • 1 part camomile tea
  • 2 parts lemon juice
  • 3 parts apple-cinnamon syrup

The distillery didn’t provide a method, but – as a total cocktail-making novice – I’d say just shove it all in a glass and mix it well.  It’s so delicious that it’d be hard to mess up based on lack of skill anyway.

Food and Drink Editor, MA Global Popular Musics Student, quite enjoys cooking (@fradele_)


15th February 2018 at 9:00 am

Images from

Adele Franghiadi