Templeton Rye comes from the great state of Iowa. You know what else came from Iowa? Me! Now before I go into my review, let me warn you that I am going to be completely and unabashedly biased because I am convinced that nothing bad comes from the Hawkeye State. Ever. Any faults I may find with this spirit most likely stem from the fact that it is partially made in Indiana.
I first discovered the existince of this brand while traversing the Des Moines airport one holiday season. My eye was captures by ene of those big hallway bilboards (you know, the one’s that used to have Tiger Woods selling expensive tech consulting). ”Prohibition Era Recipe,” it said. “Made in Templeton, IA” it said. ”Coming Soon,” it said.
I had heard enough. The next Christmas I asked anyone in or near the state of Iowa to grab a bottle of this stuff for me. Unfortunately, neither Santa, nor my relatives paid any attention to my request. What ensued was a wild goosechase across half the state to find a bottle of this mystery juice because every place one would normally look was sold out. Finally, a small liquor store in Manchester (about as far from Templeton as you can get in Iowa) had three bottles. After I left, they were sold out as well.
The initial swig brought quite a shock. You see, this was my first exposure to rye whiskey. I was stupidly surprised that it actually tasted like rye bread. And I hate rye bread. This is mainly due to the Reuben – an abomination of a sandwich that I assume is served for lunch every day in hell. I was a bit disappointed, but since I went to such effort to obtain the drink (and owned so much of it), I kept at it. Eventually I came to realize that rye in alcoholic liquid form is far more palatable than when mutated into ‘bread’ bookending a pile of gruel.
Over a period of about three years, I’ve polished off a little over two bottles. It’s nice to sit down and reminisce about days spent frolicking through corn fields, chasing barn cats around the bales of hay, and assuming that the smell of animal excrement permeating the air was the norm for the whole country. I realize not everyone will be awash with nostalgia when trying some Templeton, but it never hurts to have a little Iowa in ya. In fact, it feels pretty darn good.
Enough babbling, how does it taste?
Nose: Cereal, vanilla, cappucino, the gooey stuff in apple pie when it congeals around the crust, and baseball leather.
Palate: There’s no mistake that this is rye. It’s made with rye and tastes like rye. After chewing on it a while, some carrot cake, a butteryness that I can’t quite place, and a sourish – maybe even slightly vinegarish (not in a bad way) – taste sat on my tongue. There is also plenty of sweetness, with coconut, fruite, vanilla and cocoa. Think of those neopolitan candies from Brach’s and you’ve got the idea.
Finish: The finish is powerful, but a tad short. Plenty of rye again, as well as a more general cereal taste. Sour berries and cinnamon. Actually, since I’m on the topic of old school candy anyway, I’m going to go with Gobstoppers and Atomic Fireballs.
For the horse traders:
Website: http://www.templetonrye.com/ I recommend checking out their Media page. There are some cute videos of old cranks telling stories about their days as bootleggers during prohibition.
Oh, and let me also include this piece of hilarity. An Iowa band called The Nadas actually wrote a song about this stuff. I used to think these guys were cool in college, as they would often swing by the Iowa State campus. My how tastes can change.