With the first Teeling distillery built in Ireland in 1782, Teeling Whiskey in its new incarnation is a young company with old roots. Now with connections that reach from Ireland to China, we sit down with Brand Ambassador Guy Horan to discuss their latest whiskey produced in Chinese wine barrels.
Until the early 20th century, Irish whiskey dominated the world with thousands of distilleries combined producing almost 10 million gallons of whiskey per annum. But, the late 1900s, only 2 distilleries remained due a number of contributing factors. Amongst those in decline was Teeling Whiskey, however the brand has recently been revived by brothers Jack and Stephen Teeling who are on a mission to restore the distillery to its former glory.
Tradition would have it that no one would tamper with something as historic and legendary as the Irish method of making whiskey, but Jack and Stephen at Teeling want to push these boundaries. Brand Ambassador, Guy Horan discusses what the company is trying to achieve in Asia, “We’re making it very traditional by obeying the rules but also pushing the boundaries of what people expect.” In regards to this, Guy explains that the company still prides itself on making traditional Irish whiskey by triple distilling.
Teeling are spearheading the production of interesting tasting whiskies using new and exciting methods such as those they have found in their current partnership with Kanaan Winery in China. Using barrels that previously held wine for the Ningxia based winery to age their single malt, Teeling are bridging the gap between east and west in an entirely new way and achieving new results. As Guy explains, “People don’t have an idea of what Irish whiskey should be other than being quite sweet and soft. We have to freedom to change and experiment with things — and our goal is to expand what Irish whiskey can be with all these different flavours.”
As one would expect, establishing a presence in China is difficult in terms of connections and relationships. Guy elaborates on this by saying, “You need to have someone on the ground in China who’s there everyday, otherwise you’re just going to spend a lot of money flying back and forth for meetings and not really achieving a lot. It requires concerted effort.” Due to China being so big, the company has also needed to research extensively into regional foods as Chinese consumers tend to pair their drinks with very specific and regionally different cuisine.
The future of Ireland’s leading independent whiskey producer is exciting — they have already won several awards. “We have had several great years, with a recent highlight being awarded Irish Whiskey of the Year for our Revival Vol. IV whiskey. This is the top honour at the Irish Whiskey Awards, the only whiskey competition judged exclusively by experts in Irish whiskey,” explains Guy. “We plan to bring innovation and diversity to the Irish whiskey category, and introduce it to existing Irish whiskey fans around the world.” And they’re putting their money and expertise exactly where their mouth is.
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