I’ve been known to enjoy wine from the Douro region in Portugal, although I would never pretend to know much about wine, either from Portugal or in general. With all spirits-related facts (some more useful than others) taking up too much brain space already, there’s not much room left for an in-depth comprehension of wine. But at least there was a sense of recognition when a bottle of the Teeling Douro Old Vines arrived on my doorstep a few months ago.
This release is the fifth in the Teeling Sommelier Selection. This Irish distillery has previously explored the influence of French Margaux and Sauternes wine casks. Other iterations saw the use of Italian Amarone and Recioto casks. All of these casks were used to finish the Teeling Small Batch, a blend of 75% grain whiskey and 25% malt whiskey. The Teeling Douro Old Vines follows that same recipe, but with ex-red wine casks from the Douro region.
While I’ve not tasted any of the previous Sommelier Selection releases, I did review the Teeling Riesling Grand Cru Edition. This limited release might as well have been part of the Sommelier Selection, as it follows the exact same concept. I concluded that it wasn’t an improvement on the original Teeling Small Batch. Hopefully, the Teeling Douro Old Vines is.
Teeling Douro Old Vines Sommelier Selection (46%, OB, 2022)
Nose: Needs a little time, but then I get hints of blackcurrant, Demerara sugar, juicy plums and a touch of fresh leather. Also whispers of red berries, cherry syrup, and sweet cinnamon buns. Taste: Rather a creamy mouthfeel. Arriving on subtle oak tannins and a pinch of black pepper, accompanied by a touch of crème de cassis, Maraschino cherries, and damp oak. Then just a whiff of warming baking spices, hint of pickled ginger, and tobacco. Finish: Medium length. Lingering tannins, soft spices and oaky oranges, which sounds made up. Well, it is something I made up. But it makes sense to me, okay?
I think the wine casks work well with the grain whisky's spiciness and oak-y notes. Whichever the case, the Teeling Douro Old Vines is a fine addition to their Sommelier Collection. Most importantly, it's very different from the regular Small Batch, but doesn't take anything away from it either.