What is it?
Rye whiskey is a distilled and aged spirit made primarily from Rye. In the United States Rye Whiskey must be made from at least 51% Rye (typically corn, wheat and malted barley make up the remainder), be put in the barrel at no more than 62.5% ABV, aged in brand new (virgin) oak barrels and bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV. If the Rye Whiskey spends 2 or more years in oak it can then be labelled 'Straight Rye Whiskey'
Specifically today we are looking at three Rye Whiskeys from Templeton Distillery from Templeton Iowa.
- Templeton Rye 4YO Rye Whiskey - 4 year old age stated Rye Whiskey made from 95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley. Bottled at 40%, $64.99 (700ml & 1 litre version)
- Templeton Rye 6YO Rye Whiskey - 6 year old minimum age Rye Whiskey made from 95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley. Bottled at 45.75%, $74.99
- Templeton Rye Barrel Strength 2019 - Non age stated Rye Whiskey made from 95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley. Bottled at 57.9%, $99.99
Where and how is it made?
Current bottlings of Templeton Rye are from Rye Whiskey made to specification for the Templeton Rye distillery by the MGP distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana and bottled at the facility in Templeton, Iowa.
The Templeton Rye facility is one of the largest family owned distilleries in the United States, based in the small town of Templeton Iowa (current population 338). The facility is situated on a 20 acre property and has a combination of Pot and Column stills from Forsyths foundry allowing it to produce 2.4 million bottles a year. Warehousing onsite can accommodate 50,000 barrels of whiskey currently. Bottling is carried out onsite. The distillery also has recently added a visitor centre and museum.
Milling, mashing, distilling, ageing and bottling will all be carried out at the distillery moving forward. The primary mash-bill is 95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley (which is very Rye heavy compared to most Rye whiskey mashes). Distillation is conducted in a combination of continuous and Pot Stills and the first Rye Whiskey 100% made and aged in Templeton is expected in 2022.
Where did it come from?
Like most American whiskey, Templeton Rye has a colourful past.
On January 17, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment and Volstead Act came into effect, beginning the Prohibition era in the United States. With the availability and quality of spirits available effectively drying up overnight, the 'entrepreneurial' residents of Templeton, Iowa (population 350 at the time), took matters into their own hands, producing a carefully crafted, bootleg rye whiskey affectionately known as 'The Good Stuff'.
With such a small population, the locals and in particular the farmers who grew the Rye were dependent upon each other to make ends meet. It was out of this sense of community spirit and will to survive that an underground brand developed. Word spread and 'The Good Stuff' was in demand, even finding its way into Chicago’s notorious speakeasies, smuggled in by bootleggers on cattle cars destined for Chicago's stockyards.
On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, officially ending Prohibition on December 15, 1933. Small batches of 'The Good Stuff' were still being produced illegally and enjoyed inconspicuously by locals in Templeton, but the end of prohibition spelled the death knell for Rye Whiskey made in Templeton soon thereafter. Fast forward 70 years...
What does it taste like?
- Nose: Christmas spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of cloves). Dry hay bales. Rye bread.
- Palate: Typical Rye pepper, but surprisingly balanced for the high Rye mash bill. Main flavours are butterscotch sauce, vanilla, Rye bread (dark). Good approachable introduction for non rye drinkers.
- Nose: Butterscotch, lemon oil, hay, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and lavender.
- Palate: Cinnamon, peppermint, rye cracker but mostly sweeter flavours of brown sugar and toffee apple with a warm pepper undercurrent. Decent amount of oak spice and a nice clean dry finish.
- Nose: Dill pickles (burger pickle), Spicy dark pumpernickel bread, a whiff of bubblegum, lemon zest, granny apple peel, hay shed (a bit mustier, less dry).
- Palate: Pear/green apple, cloves, white pepper, fresh mint, and the customary butterscotch. The extra ABV helps the fruit stand out more somehow with the spice levels remaining fairly consistent with the 4 and 6 year old.
How else is Templeton Rye enjoyed?
Templeton Rye has garnered a lot of attention in the bar scene as the high rye mash bill and relative affordability lends itself beautifully to cocktails.
Both of the below recipes were pinched from the Templeton website and tried here at TWL HQ and definitely passed the test.
- 45 ml Templeton Rye Whiskey (we used the 6 year old for the higher ABV)
- 120 ml of lemon lime soda (7-Up or Sprite, we used 7-Up)
- Dash of Grenadine
Maraschino Cherry (Luxardo in ours)
Instructions: Take a collins glass and fill with ice. Add Templeton Rye whiskey, lemon lime soda and a touch of grenadine until drink is pink in colour. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
- 60 ml Templeton Rye Whiskey (we used the 6 year old for the higher ABV)
- 20 ml of Grand Marnier
- 30ml of Champagne
- Lemon Twist
Place ice, Templeton Rye whiskey, Grand Marnier and bitters into a mixing glass. Gently stir. Strain into a martini glass and then add champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.
We hope you thoroughly enjoyed this and are inspired to try some Templeton Rye!
The Whisky List in partnership with GoodDrop