Templeton Rye. The whiskey that is NOT from Templeton, Iowa, as they long tried to make you believe. Last year there was a lot of fuss about this brand as it hid the origins of the whiskey, even though the American law states that this is mandatory if the whiskey was distilled elsewhere.
Chuck Cowdery did some extensive reporting on this on his in depth blog, and it was also covered on WhiskyCast. Of course there was some mainstream attention too, but I haven’t followed that since the above media outlets were quite extensive in their coverage.
During the WhiskyCast about it, another rather shocking truth came to light that almost nobody knew about, but which was written in law for a long time. It is allowed to have flavorings in American whiskey. In this case there is some too, made to specification and make the whiskey taste more like its pre-prohibition namesake.
In the end the labeling was changed by Templeton, and things died down a little bit. But even still, knowing that there’s flavoring in this I’m ever so slightly skeptical. I approached this dram too see whether it’s a tasty drink, not as to see if it’s a good whiskey. There’s a difference there.
It’s rather spicy, obviously, but not in a way that I’m familiar with. Not very typically ‘rye whiskey’. Very green and fruity, with star apple and the peels of unripe bananas. It’s got a slightly burnt rye bread scent too. Then I got a scent which took me some time to properly pin down and I’m still divided between radish and horse radish.
After a couple of minutes of breathing the green fruit dissipates a little bit and the spices go more towards allspice, rye bread and oak. More typical, so to say.
The palate is dry and spicy, even slightly hot with sambal ulek. It keeps getting drier with the rye and radish again. Or maybe it’s horseradish. There’s some oak here too, to keep the spices in check.
The finish is where it becomes slightly unbalanced with the oak being almost not noticeable and the radish flavor becoming more prominent. The more chili like flavor is pushed back a little bit too. Still, it’s not bad at all.
So, what this boils down to in the end is a flavored whisky from Indiana. The flavoring, or the specifics of its distillation and maturation have made this dram quite different from other MGP-I whiskeys. Having said that, it’s a rather tasty one at that.
Still, knowing that there can be flavorings in non-straight whiskeys and this one uses that feels a bit like I’m being tricked. Whiskey interests me because of the rather simple recipe and huge variety that can still be achieved with it. By having flavorings in it, I feel the craft of the product is somewhat diminished because of it.
In one of the WhiskyCast episodes Mark Gillespie reads out a comment he got based on the interview he had with the guys from Templeton: What they’ve basically done is built a whiskey brand that stated they distill their whiskey, but in the end they outsourced the distilling because distilling is hard. I believe it was Scott Spolverino who said that.
Anyway, it feels a bit silly to want to be in distilling but not distill because it’s tough.
But still, a tasty drink, nonetheless.
Templeton Rye, 40%. It’s available from The Whisky Exchange for £ 49.95