Behind the Bar: Conor Sweeney of Teeling Whiskey Co.

by The Drink Nation on Feb 28, 2018 in Culture

 
This time on Behind the Bar, The Drink Nation had the opportunity to chat with Conor Sweeney, the Irish-born, New York-based brand ambassador for Teeling Whiskey, the only operational distillery still open in Dublin today. We talked about his family history with whiskey, where he likes to drink in New York, and Elon Musk.
 
TDN: Tell me a little bit about Teeling and its history.
Conor Sweeney (CS): You’ll notice that on our bottle, we have a label that says “since 1782,” and this is the first reference to the Teeling family distillery in Dublin. The Teelings, way back then, owned a distillery - Walter Teeling was the patriarch, and the distillery was located in the Liberties. It got its name because, at the time, Ireland was ruled by the English, and the city had walls around it - within the walls, it was quite wealthy, and the Liberties was just outside of the walls, hence the name. Teeling was the first distillery to be established in Dublin in over 125 years.
 
TDN: What’s a typical workday like for you?
CS: There isn’t one! A typical workweek would be that I fly to a different state in the U.S. and meet with our local sales teams and work with them to educate and promote Teeling within those different markets. I do trainings and tasting events for consumers, like whiskey dinners. The latter is huge - we love to incorporate food with our whiskies. If you want to see any of my workdays, follow me on Instagram at @whiskeysweeney.
 
TDN: There are a few varieties of Teeling. Which is your favorite?
CS: I like single malts, because of the depth of flavor and because they’re typically nuanced, so I prefer sipping our Single Malt neat. However, my mood sometimes dictates what I drink, so I love our Small Batch as well because of its high malt proportion and its depth of flavor. If I want a cocktail, I’ll use the Small Batch.
 
TDN: Your father works in the Irish whiskey industry as well. How has he influenced you?
CS: People say I “grew up around whiskey,” but that’s not entirely true! I did visit the distillery when I was young and subliminally knew the process, and in my late teenage years, I became what I like to call a “brilliant whiskey thief” once I could legally drink. I acquired a taste for it over time, and was curious about it. I started out without his expertise, and my father made a wide range of whiskies, but as I aged he taught me a lot about the different varieties and the world of whiskies. He obviously taught me the process, but he also taught me what parts of the process result in what flavor profiles.
 
TDN: Favorite beer?
CS: I love double IPAs, and I’ve recently discovered New England IPAs. I like Other Half, Interborough, and I love The Jeffrey [a beer bar in New York].
 
TDN: Favorite liquor?
CS: I appreciate every spirit! I obviously love whiskies from everywhere - I don’t think the country that a whiskey is from should dictate how it’s perceived. I also love mezcal and tequila, two spirits I discovered in the U.S, and aged rums like El Dorado.
 
TDN: Favorite cocktail?
CS: Irish coffee.
 
TDN: You’ve traveled across the world for your job. What’s one of your favorite travel experiences?
CS: I was training for my role in New York but was, at the time, based in Dublin and training there, and got the chance to go to Holland and The Hague to the International Whiskey Festival in 2015. Just in general, this position has given me an opportunity to see a lot of the United States and really get a feel for individual states.
 
TDN: What do you think the essentials are for a good home bar?
CS: I like stirred, spirit forward drinks, so I would say a gin, Irish whiskey - preferably Teeling! - bourbon, rye, a good sweet vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica), Saint-Germain, a solid selection of bitters (maybe local, unique bitters, and Frank Oley, the bartender at Dutch Fred’s, makes his own incredible bitters), and fresh fruit.
 
TDN: Where do you go for a drink when you’re not working, and what bartenders do you always visit?
CS: I’m based in New York, and when I’m there, I go to Dutch Fred’s to see Frank Oley, a spot called Fool’s Gold, and The Bonnie and Sweet Afton in Astoria to see Mike Di Tota, who does the drinks for both. I also love any wine bar with a great charcuterie plate.
 
TDN: If you could have a drink with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be and what would you drink?
CS: Elon Musk, and we would drink Teeling 34 Year.
 
Photo via Conor Sweeney

Tags: Behind the Bar
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
A Taste of Maine Comes to Denver at Maine Shack Pop-up

A Taste of Maine Comes to Denver at Maine Shack Pop-up

Denver's culinary offerings will highlight tasty New England....read more ›

by Carrie Dow Nov 30, 2018
Red Spot Whiskey Has Returned after 50 Years Out of Production

Red Spot Whiskey Has Returned after 50 Years Out of Production

After 50 years out of production, Red Spot Whiskey has returned to join the Spot Whiskeys family once again....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 26, 2018
SPONSORED
Drink Nation Store Rectangle
Come to Call for Your Day Drinking Needs

Come to Call for Your Day Drinking Needs

DrinkDenver made a call on Call to try out the bar menu....read more ›

by Carrie Dow Nov 26, 2018
Miller High Life is Now Available in Champagne Bottles

Miller High Life is Now Available in Champagne Bottles

Miller High Life, commonly known as the 'Champagne of Beers,' is now available in actual champagne bottles for a limited run during the holiday season...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 13, 2018
Jack Daniels is Making a Whiskey Advent Calendar For the Holiday Season

Jack Daniels is Making a Whiskey Advent Calendar For the Holiday Season

Jack Daniels has debuted a boozy advent calendar filled with, naturally, whiskey, just in time for the holiday...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 13, 2018
Behind the Bar: Jason Wise, Director of the SOMM Documentary Film Series

Behind the Bar: Jason Wise, Director of the SOMM Documentary Film Series

For this installment of Behind the Bar, we spoke to Jason Wise, documentary filmmaker and director of the new ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Oct 31, 2018
Drink Locally at These Denver Distilleries

Drink Locally at These Denver Distilleries

Here are some Denver area distilleries that have great tasting rooms....read more ›

by Carrie Dow Oct 30, 2018
Beam Suntory Has Launched a Japanese Vodka & Gin

Beam Suntory Has Launched a Japanese Vodka & Gin

Beam Suntory, one of the largest producers of both American and Japanese whiskeys in the world, has introduced two new clear spirits to its lineup: Ha...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Oct 29, 2018
You Can Now Minor in Bourbon at This Kentucky University

You Can Now Minor in Bourbon at This Kentucky University

Thanks to the booming bourbon tourism industry in Kentucky, the state's Midway University now offers a minor in Bourbon Studies as part of their under...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Oct 29, 2018
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close