So Josh Hafner of the Des Moines Register has come right out and said it: “The Templeton Rye seen on store shelves today, however, is distilled in Indiana, not Iowa.” Check out the article on the Register at: Should Templeton Rye labels include Indiana? I could add that this has been true since Scott Bush first had the idea of creating the Templeton Whiskey brand. Hundreds, if not thousands, will hear for the first time that their favorite “Iowa” whiskey is actually from Indiana. Its not the first time that the Register has published this fact, but it is probably the boldest statement yet. Wrapping it up with a threat of federal enforcement of labeling laws makes the story behind Templeton Rye seem, perhaps, more tangible. When I tell someone that Templeton Rye is actually from Indiana I hear one of several different responses. Some flat out deny that it could be true. Others swear that there is another distillery that makes “the good stuff” and that a friend of a friend of a friend gets his supplies from this illicit underground network of rye. Such bullshit. Get me some of this stuff and let me be the judge. Such is the power of faith. People really want a story. They want to believe that the tiny town of Templeton has a close tie to a Chicago mobster. They want to believe that this golden elixir, distilled from rye which doesn’t even grow in Iowa, is the best darned whiskey ever made by man. Right here in Iowa, no less. I learned very quickly when I started writing this blog that the Templeton Rye story isn’t true, and that the central feature of the story, a secret recipe that is used to make it, can’t be true. First of all, there is the undeniable fact that the first bottles came from barrels that predated the existence of the company (formed on April 4, 2005). You can’t distill on day one and sell 4-year old whiskey the next.
In my reviews I never identify Templeton, Iowa as the distillery source for Templeton Rye. I’ve identified the Lawrenceburg Distillery, now MGP, as the true source since 2010. Yet I too wanted to believe in the Capone story; that Templeton, Iowa was the source of rye to the Chicago mobsters. Now, I’ve come to doubt every single element of the story. After all, when the heart of the story is a doubtless fabrication, why not the other elements?
The one thing that isn’t a fabrication, though, is that Templeton Rye is a very good rye whiskey. Not the best ever made, mind you, but very good. This is true for all of the older stocks of rye whiskey distilled in the old LDI plant in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
I know that I picked on Homestead Barrel Proof Bourbon Whiskey for claiming to be an “Iowa” whiskey. But at least the bottle states: “Distilled in Indiana.” Now that the cat is out of the bag, I imagine that there will be a change in the Templeton bottle label. Buy Josh Hafner a drink if you see him. I know a few people who won’t be doing that for him in the future.
Note: This posting only contains statements of opinion based on publicly-available information.