Editor’s Note: This whisk(e)y was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Scott Bush and Meryl Kerkhoff founded Templeton Rye in 2001. Both are descendants of Iowan bootleggers that would use rye in some capacity to craft homemade hooch. They wanted to recreate the style of rye whiskey made in Templeton, Iowa around the Prohibition era. The story is that Kerkhoff supplied the recipe from his father and they went into business making moonshine for modern folks.
At least, this was more or less what was told before the distillery was sued in a class action lawsuit in 2015 for misleading labeling. The company has since clarified that the recipe from Kerhoff’s father inspired, rather than was used for, Templeton Rye. Their rye, they state in the lawsuit’s settlement, is a “unique product made up of several ingredients that are combined in Templeton, Iowa.” Also, they added “Distilled in Indiana” to the label, as is required by law, clarifying that it was not being distilled in Iowa.
In reality, Bush and Kerkhoff didn’t want to gamble millions of dollars and several years on building a distillery from scratch. Instead, the first release from Templeton Rye debuted in 2006 using whiskey distilled at MGP. I’m not opposed to MGP, just the word salads crafted to pretend it’s not a company’s home distillery. It seems easy enough to me to say that MGP’s high rye flavor profile helped recreate the taste of granddad’s last bottle. But my day job is marketing wine, not whiskey.
Although the company opened their distillery in Templeton, IA, in 2018, it will still be several years before the production volume and age start becoming a large portion, or perhaps all, of what is in the bottle. Thus, the Templeton Rye Barrel Strength 2022 was bottled at 57.3% ABV from MGP’s high rye mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley.
It’s the fourth barrel strength release from the company, and is also non-chill filtered.
Tasting Notes: Templeton Rye Barrel Strength 2022
Vital Stats: A blend of barrels of undisclosed ages, aged in charred new American oak, 57.3% ABV, mash bill: 95% rye and 5% malted barley, SRP $59.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is pale golden yellow with an orange undertone.
Nose: Tropical vanilla notes explode from the glass upon pouring. This is no shy fellow. I pick up notes of green bananas, sugar cookies, white grapes, and toasted buckwheat. It has a strong note of pumpernickel bread and sawdust. There’s a whiff of a chemical note like diesel.
Palate: This is moderate in body with a touch of tannins and a building fieriness. It has a spicy kick to it like horseradish. It’s rather simple on the palate, with notes of pfeffernusse (German spice cookies that are dusted in powdered sugar), molasses, and cast iron. The finish is moderate in length, with sugary sweetness to the end.
Whiskey Review: Templeton Rye Barrel Strength 2022
The high proof definitely is a defining feature of this whiskey. It’s bold and fiery, even with a splash of water. It’s fine enough neat, but an ice cube helps it settle down into a decent sipping whiskey. It offers up sweet notes like spice and sugar cookies on the nose and sugariness on the finish.
It’s not flawed, and, despite the high proof, it’s smooth enough to make an acceptable sipper, thus the three points. But frankly, I prefer a little more straightforwardness with my whiskey.
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Suzanne Bayard struck out to the West Coast with her now husband almost a decade ago to explore the intersection of wine and policy in its world-class wine regions. She manages a Portland, OR bottle shop by day as the wine buyer and newsletter editor. She is also the Director...