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The Story of Templeton Rye
When Prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in 1920, many enterprising residents of a small town in Iowa chose to become outlaws – producing a high calibre and much sought-after whiskey known as Templeton Rye.
Strictly following the original Prohibition Era recipe, The master distillers at Templeton Rye use only the best grains. While the process has changed in the past 80 years,
For example replacing the converted copper wash tub used by the original distillers with a 300 gallon copper pot still, so today’s whiskey makers no longer have to add and remove logs from the fire to regulate heat properly. the unyielding attention to detail and quality hasn’t changed.
The Beginning of Templeton Rye
In 1919 as the United States was attempting to recover from World War I, many farmers needed additional income to support their large families and make their farm payments. In response to this need for revenue, a group of crafty farmers in a small town by the name of Templeton, Iowa began to brew and distil their own form of rye whiskey, which they aptly named Templeton Rye.
Templeton Rye gained popularity amongst sophisticated circles, and developed the tag line “The Good Stuff” because of its high quality and smooth finish.
As word of Templeton Rye quickly spread, this Single Barrel Malt eventually caught the attention of the Capone gang, who began bootlegging hundreds of kegs of Templeton Rye per month and distributing it to speakeasies throughout New York, Chicago and as far west as Denver. Legend has it that Capone even orchestrated a mission to have a case of Templeton Rye smuggled to him while incarcerated in Alcatraz.
Prohibition ended in 1933 but the production of Templeton Rye continued in small quantities through the present time.
The Re-Invention of a Legend
Templeton Rye’s re-inventor, Scott Bush, grew up in Western, Iowa, where his grandfather used to tell stories about the legendary whiskey.
“Everyone where I am from knows about Templeton Rye. There are so many great stories and it is a part of our history. My great-grandfather had a still on his property, and my grandpa tells a funny story where a visitor expressed concern that one of the barns was on fire because it was the only one without snow on the roof. My great-grandfather quickly explained that it was a hog barn and the large number of hogs produced a lot of heat. But of course the heat was coming from the still...”
Fascinated by its history, Bush sought out to re-create this legendary substance. The problem, though, was how to make it. “I was able to find some product but had no idea how it was made or who made it,” says Bush. “I wanted to do it correctly, but at first nobody would talk to me because all of the ‘old-timers’ thought I was a Federal Agent.” There was even an unsuccessful attempt to have chemists at MIT, where Bush attended business school, to re-engineer the formula.
Fortunately, though, Bush’s family history in Wall Lake, Iowa eventually helped him with his plight. Once he explained his family’s connection to Templeton Rye, and his desire to revitalize it as a legal brand, knowledgeable locals began to warm up.
“I finally got through to a gentleman who was interested in helping me only if I could convince his friend of my honest intentions. While driving me to his friend’s home, he told me that this man had once broken a board over another man’s head and nearly killed him. Luckily I passed the test,” jokes Bush.
Bush has since formed a company, established a distilling partner and begun aging product in the barrel.
What is Templeton Rye?
Rye Whiskey is the original American Spirit with a history dating back to its production by George Washington at Mount Vernon, and the infamous whiskey rebellion of 1794. It is also the principle ingredient in several famous cocktails including the Manhattan, the Highball and of course, the Rock & Rye. Rye is the most distinctive and fermentable of all grains, which results in a rare combination of a bold, almost spicy character with a clean, smooth finish.
Templeton Rye is a single malt, single barrel rye whiskey of exceptional quality, the recipe remains a secret outside of the company, regulators and the Western Iowa town of Templeton where it was born.
Templeton Rye is an all-American brand with a rich history – it allows the consumer to step back in time and enjoy the same drink that their great-grandfathers used to enjoy at the local speakeasy. Bush hopes that as consumers are reintroduced to the quality of rye whiskey, it will become as commonplace of a category for whiskeys as Merlot and Pinot Noir have become for wines.
Templeton Rye Whisky Tasting Notes
Aroma; dry, grassy, Christmas spice
Taste hint of caramel, butterscotch, toffee and allspice
Body deep amber color, lingering and slightly chewy
Finish wonderful balance, clean and silk smooth
Prohibition Era Whiskey
“The Good Stuff”
Templeton Rye Distillery
209 East 3rd Street
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