Teeling Whiskey Distillery - Special Irish Foods and Drinks & The People Who Make Them

Teeling Whiskey DistilleryDee Laffan speaks with Stephen Teeling of the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Newmarket Square, Dublin 8, which opens its doors this month.

It is one of the most keenly anticipated openings of a Dublin attraction for many years. Far from being just another tourist attraction, the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Newmarket Square, Dublin 8, signals a new era for the Irish whiskey industry, and the return of a great Dublin tradition that has long been gone – whiskey making.

It is the only working distillery in the city, and the first in Ireland to offer an access-all-areas tour of the production process from start to finish. Not since the Guinness Storehouse has an attraction anything like this opened in Dublin.

Work has been under way for some time, however, and it was originally expected to open at Easter… So what has been the delay?

“We’re not just the only attraction in Dublin where you can see a real working distillery, but also you won’t get this access-all-areas anywhere else in the country,” explained Stephen.

“Figuring out how to do it properly and safely for visitors was a challenge - hence the delay. But we’ve won a few major tour contracts, with people who bring visitors here on an annual basis, and they are booked in for mid-May, so now it really needs to be ready!”

Teeling Whiskey Pot StillsThe team at the new distillery includes some of the production team from the old Cooley distillery, and the General Manager of the visitor centre is Sheila Baird, formerly of The Marine Hotel, Sutton. “The main basis of any visitor centre is customer service and my brother Jack and I had been with people in Kilbeggan who were from the hospitality industry and we could see the benefits of getting someone like that who has worked in that industry for many years. It’s a different skill set; we know how to make whiskey and the whiskey business, but the visitor centre is very different - especially when you are putting in retail and a café.”

The location of the distillery was key in making it work, for many reasons, and as it turns out, the location has genealogical significance also.

“Our family background is in that area. We had a distillery there in the Liberties back when that whole area was a centre of distilling and brewing. In that whole catchment area, there were 34 separate documented distilleries and breweries, owing to a number of factors: there was access to water, that was where most of the grains came into the city, and there were other industries there like tanneries, malting houses and a lot of the textiles were made there too. So we knew there was a rich history in the Liberties; but more recently, our grandfather had a shop on Stephen’s Street and generations of Teelings have had involvement in the city centre. It is just the right spot for us.”

“People thought we were bonkers trying to set up in Dublin city centre because a) you wouldn’t get the property and b) you wouldn’t get the planning. We were fortunate with timing in terms of the property market; if we had looked around the time of the Celtic Tiger we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

“One thing we really wanted to showcase was a real functioning, traditional pot still distillery of the kind that Dublin was famous for, and key to that was to get trucks in off the street for delivery for malt and barley, and also to take away your whiskey for storage. Newmarket Square is perfect for this.”

“We recognised a big gap in the market for a Dublin city approach to Irish whiskey. While Jameson has the museum and old distillery to go and visit, it is actually made in Cork. Where we saw the gap was taking more of an urban approach, putting a Dublin personality behind the brand – it was the old tradition of putting your family name on it – and with that in mind, we were creating an ode to the past, but with a more contemporary approach. We didn’t go down the standard approach with green bottles and focusing on rural Ireland, we wanted to do something a little grittier. Just like Dublin and that old part of the town, where whiskey distilling used to be so prolific.”

The main offering will be a tour, where visitors will experience the entire whiskey distilling process from start to finish.

Teeling Whiskey Barrels“I think people don’t know that much about whiskey because they don’t know how it’s made, but once it is broken down into the 5-6 processes, it will be clear and they will be really responsive. From the grain to the hopper and fermentation tanks, right up to the three beautiful pot stills… it will open people’s minds and hearts to the story of a Dublin whiskey.”

The distillery is laid out over three floors, with the main company offices on the third floor - and this is also an event space, to hire for a private function or that VIP experience.
On the first floor is an area with a rotating art/craft exhibition and a café offering pastries and coffees. Visitors assemble here before their tour begins and, from there, you go into a mezzanine that brings you into the distillery and right up to the pot stills where the whiskey is being made.

On the second floor, there is a maturation area, showing all the different casks that are involved in the production of whiskey, also some tasting docks and a second bar and lounge, where you can have a premium tasting or a cocktail.

There’s also a retail space offering some exclusive items for sale, typically collaborations with local craft-makers, to show the link back to the local community – key to their story and ethos.

“It is a fascinating time for Irish whiskey, but also for us, with the amazing response we’ve received for bringing a new attraction to the city and also jobs to the area,” commented Stephen.

For more information, visit: www.teelingwhiskey.com/teeling-distillery/

View some really nice videos of the pot stills arriving into Newmarket Square on their Vimeo channel here: https://vimeo.com/teelingwhiskey


Dee LaffanDee Laffan is a freelance food writer and editor. Formerly editor of Easy Food magazine, she has written for the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent. She is a proud supporter of Irish producers and their products, and takes part in judging for food competitions including Blas na hÉireann and the Great Taste Awards. She is a member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild and secretary for Slow Food Dublin. Twitter @deelaffan


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