5 Questions with Martin Lynch, Brand Ambassador and Asia Pacific Commercial Manager for Teeling Whiskey

Whisky Live Singapore 2019, one of the city’s largest annual whisky and spirit showcases, is happening this weekend. And with so many brand ambassadors of participating whisky brands jetting into town, we figured it would be a waste to not speak to one of them. Martin Lynch is also the Asia Pacific Commercial Manager for Teeling Whiskey – the independent Irish whiskey company is launching their Teeling Single Pot Still, the first Dublin distilled whiskey in almost 50 years in Singapore – so we sat down for a conversation on Irish whiskey, and what it’s like to be a Brand Ambassador for an independent distillery.

Hi Martin! Tell us more about this great Irish whiskey revival that started in the early 2010s.
Irish whiskey had unperformed for over 50 years following the implosion of all the distilleries in the 1940s and we fell from over 60% world whiskey sales to just 1%. Dublin city was home to 37 distilleries, and all of them closed. What followed was a monopoly in Ireland with one distillery producing all of the whiskey and this monopoly stifled innovation & competition. The reason Irish whiskey has been the fastest growing brown spirit in the world for the last 10 years is based around innovation, competition and a renewed focus on quality by Irish whiskey producers. The new generation of whiskey drinkers are rediscovering Irish whiskey through products like our Small Batch Rum Cask finish, and they had never considered that an Irish whiskey could be produced this way. It is this new generation of demand and supply that is driving the growth in Irish whiskey.

Teeling Whiskey returns to Whisky Live Singapore

Describe a typical work day for you.
Established in 2012, Teeling is a young start-up distillery playing in an Irish whiskey category dominated by large drinks multi-national companies – so an important part of our success has been our ability to be more nimble and dynamic than the big guys. In practice, this means that no two days tend to be the same with my duties spanning from brand ambassador duties like tastings and events but also covering sales, marketing, and everything in between. On a typical day I might catch up on emails in the morning, meet with a retail buyer to present a new product for ranging in the afternoon, and then host a whiskey dinner for 50 consumers in the evening.

What are some things that one can do if they wish to join the spirits industry? Would these differ from candidates that already have experience in the bartending and hospitality roles?
I would encourage anyone looking to enter the industry to first seek experience working in a local alcohol retail store, bar, or restaurant. This way they can develop their product knowledge, customer service skills, and also try to network with industry professionals to explore opportunities for making the move into the industry.

Those who already have experience in the hospitality space definitely have a head-start in acquiring the skills and experience to help with taking the next step into the spirits industry. It’s a fantastic industry, but I would caution that anyone looking to enter it should educate themselves fully on all aspects of a role. For example, being brand ambassador for a fast-growing brand such as Teeling Whiskey can look like a glamorous world of drinks and parties from the outside; however, the reality is often very hard work with tiring schedules of travel, events, and meetings, and lots of pressure to hit targets while growing your brand.

What makes the flavour profile of Irish whiskey stand out, in contrast to whiskies of other provenance?
Due to our climate in Ireland, we tend to get less evaporation in the maturation process. The average would be around 2% per year versus the likes of Kentucky which would lose on average 4% to 6% per year. This has typically led to a more consistent maturation process, which in turn creates a softer style of whiskey. It is very different from Scotch, which tends to be heavier in flavour or Bourbon that’s sweeter and spicy due to the virgin oak/mash bill.

Teeling Old Fashioned

The profile of the spirits industry has grown alongside the bar and restaurant scene in recent years; has Teeling’s role in this space evolved?
I believe the new generation of Irish whiskey producers such as ourselves have captured the imagination of new consumers looking for a more premium experience within the Irish whiskey category. We have produced products that had never been attempted before and broke the mould by building the first new distillery in Dublin city in over 125 years. As a brand ambassador of Teeling Whiskey, we fit into this category as being the first to offer a premium craft Irish whiskey experience to a whole new generation of discovery drinkers. Having won the most awards out of any Irish whiskey producer over the last 5 years including the World’s Best Single Malt in March 2019, we have managed to tap into a new audience globally that had never experienced Irish whiskey like this.

Last but not least, tell us about some of the fun stuff – tweaks made to the conventional whiskey making process – that Teeling has been doing?
Cask Innovation and unconventional production methods are part of our DNA. Everything we do in Teeling Whiskey is unconventional. We were the first Irish whiskey producer to bottle at 46% as a standard to non-chill filtered, and we have led the way on cask maturation having selected barrels from all over the world to finish our whiskey in.

For instance, the aforementioned Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask finish features hand selected casks of malt and grain, which are married in a central American rum barrel and bottle at 46% to non-chill filter. In terms of cask maturation, our Teeling Single Grain is fully matured in Californian Red Wine Casks, and we more recently, we collaborated with Galway Bay Brewery – the highest rated craft brewery in Ireland. They utilise our Teeling Small Batch Casks in the maturation of the 200 Fathoms, their iconic imperial stout, and we take the barrels back to finish our whiskey for a minimum of 12 months before bottling up our limited edition Teeling Stout Cask Finish.

Images courtesy of Whisky Live and Teeling Whiskey

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