Editor’s Note: These whiskeys was provided to us as review samples by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Redemption sources rye and rye-forward whiskeys, so their choice of the ‘old Seagrams Distillery’ isn’t a bad one, being that MGP produces over 80% of the American rye market. Owned by Deutsch Family, (whose other labels you might recognize include [yellow tail] and Josh Cellars wines) Redemption were acquired by the Connecticut-based conglomerate in 2015.
Dave Carpenter is a recent addition in the role of master blender. His work in whiskey began at Jim Beam in 2012, and moved on to Jeptha Creed in late 2016. “The distinctiveness of Redemption,” say Deutsch Family collateral, “comes from the attention to detail during the aging and batching process which is all done to taste, insuring consistency bottle to bottle.” It’s through Carpenter’s work that Redemption hopes to set themselves apart.
Being an independent bottler and not a distiller, my normal search for fascinating minutiae didn’t turn up much. Their brand ambassador, Joe Riggs, did let slip that they’re working on an “entirely new distilling process” that creates mature flavors with less aging. We’ll see what comes of that. For now, let’s see how these young whiskeys taste.
All tastings conducted in a classic Glencairn glass.
Tasting Notes: Redemption Rye
Appearance: This whiskey is a pale red-gold that beads and slowly forms tears.
Nose: On the nose it’s fresh: green leaves, spearmint with a touch of cigar-box spice and dried cherry.
Palate: Thin on the palate, it’s nutty on the approach and a bit hot. Nutmeg eventually unfurls to blue fruit on the mid-palate leading to a green and somewhat bitter finish.
Final Score: 3/5
Tasting Notes: Redemption Bourbon
Vital Stats: Redemption Bourbon is 84 proof and made from 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% barley and aged for an average of two and a half years in new charred oak barrels. Buy it at $24.99 for a 750mL bottle.
Appearance: Pale gold in the glass, this spirit beads and slowly forms tears.
Nose: There’s a distinct sour note: sour grain and vanilla yogurt. Pencil shavings and unripe peach make appearances.
Palate: Watery, flat; grain sweetness, reminiscent of hazelnuts. The finish is mushroomy and short.
Final Score: 2.5/5
Tasting Notes: Redemption Wheated Bourbon
Appearance: A bit deeper, I’ll go so far as medium-pale red-gold, which beads and slowly forms fat tears.
Nose: Perfumey and delicate, with vanilla custard and salt air.
Palate: Clean on the palate, this whiskey tastes of thyme and a whisper of clove. The herbaceousness is satisfying, but lacking a great amount of character.
Final Score: 3.5/5
Tasting Notes: Redemption High-Rye Bourbon
Vital Stats: Redemption High Rye Bourbon is 92 proof and made from 60% corn, 36% rye and 4% malted barley and aged for an average of two and a half years in new charred oak barrels. Find one at $24.99 for 750mL.
Appearance: Medium-pale red-gold
Nose: Easily the most aromatic of the bunch: sticky-bun sweetness, toast and dried figs.
Palate: Syrupy, the pancake syrup that didn’t come from a tree, vegetal notes on the mid-palate and cacao nibs further back.
Final Score: 3/5
Redemption achieve what they’re going for. These aren’t great whiskeys; maybe they would be if given a handful more years. But that’s not the point. The Wheated Bourbon turned out to be my surprise favorite since I don’t usually go in for that category. The Rye and Bourbon aren’t top choice for drinking neat, but they’re fine in a cocktail. I expected the High Rye Bourbon to be nicer on the palate from the nose. So, job done. But I’d still rather have something more convincing in my glass.
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In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...