For this week’s Nightcap exclusive, we sit down with Conor Sweeney, the Brand Ambassador in NYC for Teeling Whiskey Co. Dublin has traditionally been the heart of the Irish whiskey industry, and in 1782, when Teeling forebear Walter Teeling established his distillery, there were over 35 different distilleries in Dublin alone. Today, the Teeling Whiskey distillery is the only operational distillery in the city and home to the Spirit of Dublin. Pour yourself a wee dram and join us for a chat with Conor as he shares this great story and plans for the future.
NightOwl: Please share the Teeling Whiskey story, and how the distillery came to be.
Conor: The Teeling family started distilling in 1782. In 1987, John Teeling, the father of Jack and Stephen Teeling (the owners of Teeling Whiskey Co.) set-up Cooley Distillery, where my father joined to become the master blender and distiller, and together they began to innovate with Irish whiskey. Cooley Distillery did this right up until 2012 when the distillery was sold to Beam International. With the proceeds from Beam, Jack and Stephen Teeling set up the new Teeling Whiskey Co. Our distillery is the first distillery established in Dublin in over a century and it’s more or less a block away from where Walter Teeling founded his distillery in 1782. This brings our story full circle and adds significance to the phoenix on our logo – we’re reviving a long heritage of Dublin whiskey distilling.
NightOwl: What does a typical day look like for you, and your team around the country?
Conor: As a Teeling brand ambassador no two days are the same. When I’m in New York, I spend my days planning promotional events, visiting supporting bars, organizing liquor store tastings, and finding new suitable bars and liquor stores to carry our whiskies. On top of this, I help out with other promotional events around the country and create content for our social media outlets.
NightOwl: Do you have a personal favorite batch, and why?
Conor: My favorite batch is the Single Malt. I’m a big fan of single malts and I love the depth and complexity of ours. However, the beauty of our Teeling Trinity (Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt) is that they’re all unique and flavorful in their own way, so between them there is a style to fit anyone’s preference.
NightOwl: Your father is a master blender and distiller. How has that influenced your taste for whiskey?
Conor: Well, whiskey is an acquired taste so having access to multiple styles of whiskey from different countries helps a lot to distinguish between various grain distillates and cask maturation techniques. Being the master blender of what was Ireland’s most awarded and most innovative distillery, my dad always had a good selection of whiskies at home and being an “adventurous” teenager, I started exploring early. Honestly, I hated whiskey at first, but it was accessible. While my friends were drinking light drinks, like beer, cider and vodka (mixed with something), I was struggling to drink a single malt that I nicked from the drinks cabinet. It wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that I started to appreciate and recognize the different nuances offered by each whiskey. My dad also helps a lot with explaining the origins of various different tasting notes and characteristics.
NightOwl: How will Teeling be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the States this year?
Conor: We’ve got a lot going on this year! We’re teaming up with The Dead Rabbit who will be offering several Teeling cocktails on the day as well as traditional Irish food, and a live band. We’re also teaming up with Fools Gold, The Jeffrey, Alewife, and Extra Fancy where we will be offering old Irish sweets (candy) with Teeling cocktails and drinks specials. These events are free to attend and promise to be unique and brilliant St. Patrick’s Day experiences.
Sign up for our weekly Nightcap email and get your fix of interviews and stories like this one: