Teeling Talks with Iain Wood: Teeling Whiskey Wonders of Wood Cherry Wood Cask
We are pleased to announce the release of the second in our series of Wonders of Wood bottlings. A 15 Year Single Malt aged initially in bourbon barrels and then in virgin Cherry Wood. Challenging the conception of traditional whiskey flavours, this unique Irish whiskey is full of floral notes, dried fruits and mellow spices. Following on from the Teeling Whiskey Amburana Cask, the very first of our Wonders of Wood releases, this Teeling Distillery Exclusive is very different than anything we have bottled before and definitely not Irish whiskey as you would normally know it.
Exclusively available to buy now here!
The selection of the Cherry Wood Cask as the second release of our Wonders of Wood series was decided by attendees of our Wonders of Wood event in September. Hosted by Teeling Whiskey’s Master Distiller, Alex Chasko, Teeling Maturation Manager, Iain Wood and Global Brand Ambassador, Robert Caldwell, the virtual tasting gave participants a unique opportunity to taste some of our most innovative and unique Teeling Whiskey maturation projects. At the end of the tasting we got the audience to vote which was their favourite and share their tasting notes. The winner on the night was to be bottled up as a Single Cask and to be the first of our Wonders of Wood releases. The Amburana Brazilian Hardwood (first release) was the pick of the lot, however the Cherry Wood was such a close second place we had to release it too!
To give us a deeper dive into the Wonders of Wood release, we sat down with Mr. Wood himself, our Head of Operations Iain Wood! See full interview below.
What is your role at Teeling Whiskey?
I’m the Head of Operations at Teeling Whiskey, this covers all aspects from grain to bottle and includes Operations, Procurement, Logistics, Quality, Customer Service etc. My area of particular focus is on cask maturation, blending and bottling.
Tell us a bit about the Wonders of Wood collection and how you have selected the casks for this?
This is an exciting innovation that commercialises whiskey finished in unusual wood types. Irish Whiskey regulations don’t limit the wood type used in maturation to oak, therefore there is a lot of other wood types to explore, particularly in terms of the different and unique flavour profile they can impart to the whiskey. We have trialed many non-oak wood types with varying degrees of success, however this is good because we often learn more when we get it wrong! As long as we continue to learn and be at the forefront of whiskey innovation, I’m happy. In terms of cask selection for the @Wonders of Wood’ collection, we actually held a virtual tasting with Teeling consumers/fans, tasted and discussed four finalists with them before asking them to vote on their favourite. The result was incredibly close between Amburana and Cherry, so we decided to bottle a single cask of each.
Why is Cherry Wood different?
The wood is more porous than oak, which allows for quicker interaction between the whiskey and the environment. The result is a quicker finishing period and an unusual flavour profile – floral notes, dried fruits and mellow spices.
What makes it interesting/innovative?
It’s a very interesting wood type to use, as it hasn’t been used much historically in whiskey maturation, there’s very little knowledge and wisdom on the exact impact of the wood on the spirit. We asked for a hybrid cask to be built using cherry wood, so the staves alternate between cherry and oak. This provides better structural rigidity, but also allows the oak to deliver a familiar taste profile at the heart of this whiskey, allowing the more cherry-driven flavour top notes to subtly change the overall flavour profile.
Where did Teeling get the casks from?
We use a specialist cooperage in Portugal for this cask. They know we’re interested in unusual wood types and cask history, so if they are ever tipped off on the supply of something a bit different, thankfully they pick up the phone to me first!
What is the traditional method?
The traditional method of maturing whiskey is to either fully mature in a white oak Bourbon cask, or to initially mature in a white oak Bourbon cask before finishing in an oak cask that was previously used to mature another spirit, chiefly sherry, port, madeira etc. We’ve deviated here by finishing in a cherry wood cask to give a unique finishing period and as a result, an unusual and interesting taste profile.
As Irish Whiskeys, we are allowed to mature with different wood types. Why is this and how does that help us?
It helps us by not constraining us to solely using oak in cask maturation. Having said that, once you start using other wood types you quite soon realise why oak is so good at the job! Aside from its well-established capability to deliver a reliable flavour profile with minimal losses, oak is also dense and structurally very strong. This is important as the cask needs to maintain its structural integrity, for anything up to 30-40 years if used for a full maturation of vintage whiskey. It’s also quite resistant to rotting. When using different wood types we’re primarily interested in the flavour profile they can help to impart, but we also need to keep an eye on the other factors to ensure we don’t suffer excess losses or end up with a cask that falls apart.
Wonders of Wood Cherry Wood Tasting Notes
Nose: Wood spice, brown sugar, dried fruits (Prunes, Raisins, Sultanas)
Taste: Sawdust, Sandalwood, Rosewater, Turkish Delight
Finish: Long finish with a mellow spice
Bottled at 57.1% ABV and costing €125, this distillery exclusive bottling is a limited edition available from our online shop! For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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