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Templeton Fortitude Bourbon




Whiskey Review: Templeton Fortitude Bourbon

Tasting Notes:

American high rye bourbon distilled from a mash bill of 55% corn, 40% rye, and 5% malted barley; aged for at least 5.5 years in virgin American oak; bottled at 92 proof.
This has a delicate but substantial golden-brown color in the glass, delivering good legs and viscosity.
The aromatics here are sweet in corn and spicy in rye, reflecting what the brand looks for. Rich notes of vanilla, oak, pepper spice, buttered popcorn, brown sugar, and melting caramel are present.
This drinks surprisingly subtle compared to the nose, albeit with noticeable sweet and spicy still present. Sweet corn, brown sugar, black pepper, cardamom, caramel, toffee candy, and oak all interchange in a respectable mix.
This finish is a bit hot but nicely refreshing, carrying well into the back throat as it takes a short, final bow.
Templeton Fortitude Bourbon does a solid job of showing off what Templeton is capable of on the distilling side. While it still needs a little more aging to show its true potential, this early offering gives this brand another checkmark of redemption from its once-troubled past.
Templeton Fortitude Bourbon review
We review Templeton Fortitude Bourbon, the next chapter of an American whiskey brand with a once-troubled past. (image via Templeton)

Editor’s Note: We received a review sample of this whiskey from the brand. However, in accordance with our editorial policies, this has not influenced the outcome of our review in any way.

Templeton American whiskey, once a poster child for controversial label bottling practices, has come a long way since those dark times. Having opened the doors to its own Templeton, Iowa-based distillery in 2018, the brand recently proudly announced its first bourbon release and, more importantly, the offering of its maiden distillate to the public.

Templeton Fortitude Bourbon, the subject of this review, starts the next chapter of a brand tying itself to the “early 1920s when residents of the small town of Templeton, Iowa, distilled a much sought-after rye whiskey. That bootlegging enterprise, forced underground during the Prohibition era, flourished, and the famous ‘Templeton Rye’ became legendary.”

How Templeton once was portrayed, for better or worse, as promoting information about where the whiskey was actually distilled in the early days of its more modern story became the subject of a now infamous lawsuit that got people thinking about labeling practices taken more for granted today. What we see as the Templeton brand in 2024 seemingly has learned much from all of this.

What’s in the bottle

The question before us now is – what is this new bourbon? It is all in-house Templeton and uses local grains in the mash bill. More specifically, this high rye offering was distilled from 55% corn, 40% rye, and 5% malted barley, being “born from locally sourced corn and meticulously cultivated in collaboration with local farms within 15 miles of the distillery.”

“It’s thrilling to be part of this historic moment for the Templeton Distillery and the incredible community of Templeton, Iowa,” said Shane Fitzharris, Senior Vice President of Commercial at Infinium Spirits and the owner of the Templeton brand, when this bourbon very recently debuted. “We are very excited to bring our distillery’s inaugural distillate to the world and showcase the innovation and craft that we have at Templeton Distillery through this fantastic Bourbon release.”

Templeton Fortitude Bourbon, currently matured, according to information provided by the brand, for 5.5 years in virgin American Oak barrels with a #4 char from Speyside Cooperage out of Kentucky, is of natural color and non-chill filtered. Bottled at 92 proof, it is priced at $39.99.

All of this being written, two side things are interesting to note in how Templeton is now presenting itself. The term independent bottler is how they describe themselves, alongside also playing in “the distilling world.” Furthermore, it is curious that they chose bourbon as their first “we made it ourselves” distillate to be released versus the rye story that is truly at the center of this brand. The current Templeton Rye whiskey portfolio includes a 4-year-old, 6-year-old, 10-year-old single barrel, and limited cask finish releases, and it has, in the past, at least, been the sourced side of the operation.

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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