Templeton Rye Whiskey Review

Templeton Rye Prohibition Era Recipe
Templeton Rye Prohibition Era Recipe

Many of the whiskeys we see coming out of the craft distillery movement are young or lightly aged whiskeys. The batting average for this category hasn’t been great and it prompted us to write the piece, “Putting White Dog Down“.

Aged whiskey gets as much as 60%-80% of its flavor (and complexity) from the barrel it’s aged in, so it’s always nice to sample a whiskey that has spent some real time in a barrel. In the case of Templeton Rye Whiskey, the aging process is a full five years.

Based on an old prohibition era recipe, Templeton Rye Whiskey is the kind of whiskey you’d find made out of an old farmhouse still. These whiskeys were made to preserve a portion of the year’s crop and the best of it was shared with family and friends. These whiskeys rarely found their way outside of the town they were made in, let alone the state. Templeton Rye has resurrected this old style of whiskey and hopes to bring it to a national market (albeit in small quantities).

Templeton Rye Whiskey (80 proof – $50) – Deep yellow-orange in color, it’s clear that the Templeton Rye has seen some good age. The nose leads with the fresh rye spice (which reminded us a bit of the Hirsch 6 Year Rye Whiskey), along with distinct wood notes, which smell like a mix of cedar, pencil shavings and cardboard. There are some very light caramel notes in the nose along with light brown sugar and the slightest hint of wax. It’s one of the nicer noses on a rye we’ve smelled.

The entry is a blast of flavor that combines a really nice balance of rye spice and deep wood notes. The spirit feels lush on the palate but manages to maintain the slightest element of delicacy.  The mid palate takes the woodsy spice of the entry and builds on it with some nice caramel notes. The finish is long and delightful, holding on to many of the flavors there from the first sip with just the slightest bit of heat.

Templeton Rye Whiskey – We liked many of the notes on the nose and as the whiskey entered our palate we hoped for something great, and it did not disappoint. Lush, flavorful and simply delicious, the Templeton Rye delivers where many “New American Whiskeys” fail.  While preserving all of the nice qualities of rye and aging the spirit to full maturity, Templeton has created a spirit which simply delivers.  4.5 Stars Very Highly Recommended

(Editors note: Our previous review was based on what we later discovered to be a tainted lab sample. We’ve revised our rating and review to reflect the full release product from Batch 4, Barrel 117. Also, it’s important to point out that Templeton is not a small craft distilled product.)

  • While I appreciate the spirit of pushing the envelope that small craft distillers do so well, and also appreciate the need to get a product to market as quickly as possible to generate much-needed revenue, I’m afraid the results just.aren’t.whiskey.to.me.

    They can be good, even fine. But it’s still not whiskey, because it doesn’t have the development that slow barrel maturation has…as in the Templeton Rye. Without the barrel, grain spirits are simply low-heat-distilled vodka.

    That barrel maturation is what distinguishes ‘whiskey” from other spirits, and it’s difficult to shortcut the process. Sounds like the Templeton Rye folks have figured that out. I look forward to trying it soon.

    • I totally agree with you Hoke. A great example of this is Downslope. I tasted the whiskey they are selling right now and then tasted their white whiskey which had been barrel aged in a small barrel for a year. The difference between the two was mindblowing.

      You know the old adage “We will sell no wine before it’s time”, I really wish it would be “We will sell no WHISKEY before it’s time”.

  • Templeton is not a ‘small craft distillery’, they are just a bottler. I don’t feel this detracts from the product at all, but let’s be clear when comparing to actual distilleries.

    “Scott Bush, Templeton’s president, has finally acknowledged that Templeton Rye is made by LDI in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and always will be. Templeton has a distillery in Iowa but nothing made there has ever been sold, except for in very limited release in and around Templeton itself.” – Chuck Cowdery

    • Iowan

      Bush confirmed that they are now aging Templeton Rye in Templeton, Iowa, some of it coming to them from LDI in barrels as young as new make. He said they still hope to move all production to Templeton but admits that is a long way off. He mentioned 25 years.

      Its a growing business and will take time before it stands on it own.

      • Iowan

        That was a comment posted by Check Chowdery that is much newer than the one posted by Sylvan.

  • Orlin Sorensen

    Templeton Rye is certainly a nice product, but one major detail that must be noted. – Templeton Rye is absolutely NOT a craft distiller.

    Templeton Rye’s whiskey is produced by Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (http://www.lawrenceburgdistillersindiana.com) formery Seagram’s, and now owned by Angostura, which as stated on their website, “is one of the largest beverage alcohol distillers in the world.”

    As stated on Templeton Rye’s Wikipedia page: “Templeton Rye is distilled and aged at Lawrenceburg Distillers, Lawrenceburg, Indiana and shipped to Iowa by tanker truck. It is then bottled at the Iowa facility.”

    It just seems a bit of a slap in the face to craft distillers (like Stranahan’s) who work their guts out milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, barrelling and then invest in quality aging time, when businesses like Templeton pose as the same.

    So, Templeton Rye is a marketing company, and a very good one at that.

    • We’ve adjusted the review to reflect their status.

  • Kallie Kochuyt

    I was just wondering where to buy it??

  • IrritatedIowan

    It is unfortunate that the Templeton Rye hoopla is more about restricting the availability, thus driving up the demand and is less about producing a product that is available. They have turned purchasing this “coveted” drink into an obsession in Iowa and a quick search at DrinkUpNY allows me to purchase it and have it shipped to me, for about $3 more than what it costs *IF* I can find it in Iowa.

    What a racket. They spend more time on their merchandise and “tours” than actual production. If they dedicated themselves to production versus marketing, they would be making far more money, albeit, much less publicity about the “rare, Iowa whiskey”…

  • Bartendress

    I’m so glad I read this review AND the comments…I have this at my bar and was always told it was made in Templeton and a craft distiller. What a sham. too bad.

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  • Wapsi

    Regardless of where this whiskey is made or bottled or advertised or sold or drank or used for a “sham”… Is it some of the finest whiskey I have ever drank. And I don’t exagerrate. I don’t care where it comes from or who ships it in a tanker (which, news flash, happens with nearly every single American product). It is by FAR my favorite whiskey I am able to purchase (if I’m lucky) in Iowa and surrounding areas. No words can do justice to the flavor and simple experience it creates in drinking it and enjoying the amazing feeling it gives to me after a long day. Outstanding drink for the price and the enjoyment it provides for the average American. Anyday. Five stars to Templeton Rye Whiskey.

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  • Tommy

    Just another sham bottler / marketer trying to take our money.
    there are actual distilleries that don’t truck in their products in tankers but dump their own barrels that they have filled with their own product.

    It’s a way overpriced whiskey.

  • Phil G.

    Nothing made my day better recently than stopping in at our corner Kum and Go gas station only to find out that the manager had just put 10 bottles of TR the shelf! By the time I got to them only 2 were left. All the guys were smiling in line and it felt like Christmas! I have toured the Templeton Bottling facility in Iowa and the tour guide fairly and honestly explained that they have the whiskey distilled out of state and then bring in for bottling. I don’t see why one would feel shamed. Who cares where it is made, the ingredients and the skill of the distiller is what makes it all come together. At least is not made in “CHINA”! Thank goodness something this good can be made and enjoyed here in the good U.S.A.

  • jack dowland

    As others have said, anyone calling TR a sham probably has other deeper seeded issues they need to face before posting again..

    Everything in this world is bought, sold, marketed, including your boney bartender..hands, so get over it.

    It’s great whiskey and in many cases far better than the “small batch” producers. Yes the hype is annoying but, just get online, buy it there and get over it.

  • Justin McGee

    Who gives a hill of horse manure where this stuff is made, aged or bottled. Templeton is the best whiskey I have ever had. The only thing I dislike about this whiskey is the fact that I cant find it on the shelf in NC. Templeton is amazing.

    • Fair point. Drink what you love….don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

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  • Mke

    I love Templeton rye. I use to only drink wine, but it started bothering me. I switched to Makers Mark whiskey. But wanted more. Had some Whistle Pig rye one night. Fell in love with rye. But WP was very expensive. Was in a liquor store to buy WP, when a guy told me to try Templeton Rye instead. Cost 40% less and is better. At 69, I can now stop my search for my final drink of choice. Templeton until death.

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  • BB53

    “In August (2014), the company’s chairman and a co-founder told The Des
    Moines Register that the company in actuality buys stock rye whiskey
    from an Indiana distillery, MGP Ingredients, and does not actually
    produce the whiskey using a Prohibition-era recipe.”
    A class action lawsuit for fraud is being allowed to proceed against Templeton Rye in Iowa.