Templeton Rye.

I asked the fine people at Templeton Rye for a bottle of whatever they could send me.  I wanted to review it.  More so, I wanted to believe that in America people will send you booze just because you are a writer.  As we all know, whiskey has fueled the greatness of many writers.  I certainly have had my preferences, but I wanted to know what Al Capone’s favorite whiskey was like.

So “the good stuff” as it is called is Iowa’s finest rye whiskey.  I got the bottle in the mail at work and walked around like I was made of Teflon.  I was basically looking really cool.  The bottle is corked, which I always think shows handcrafting.  It conveys that this is a whiskey that came from a cask put together by humans, not in some industrial vat system.  The back of the bottle was hand numbered.  It made me feel pretty good about it.

I waited a week to get into the stuff because I was looking forward to it.  We were set to head downtown on Saturday to Seven Grand for a birthday party.  This was the right night to dive in as Seven Grand is good for whiskey.  It’d be stupid to drink a bunch of what I suspected to be good whiskey before heading out of margaritas (not that I haven’t paid for that mistake in the past).

I am not a whiskey aficionado in any typical sense.  I am not a connoisseur by any stretch.  I am a guy who loves whiskey and everything it stands for.  While I am glad that people talk about smokiness and peat and all that jazz, I am looking for what the drink is like.  How it drinks.

The whiskey smelled a little sweet when we opened it.  A first sip was very smooth, but packed quite a kick on the back nine.  I thought at first that I was going to be too rough and tumble for this Iowan rye, but I was wrong.  We put our second glass on ice and continued to enjoy it.  This whiskey was strong and smooth at the same time, which are hallmarks of what I look for.  I like the whiskey’s strength to be in its punch, not in its peat so to speak.  The Templeton Rye was smooth, warming and substantial in every way.  It stuck to your ribs.   It made me want to fight a bear and pour him a glass after we’d gone a few rounds.  You know, just to show him it was only a little good-natured roughhousing.

We went down to catch our cab, but it was late.  We decided to head up and catch another drink before heading out.  I have to be honest, I absolutely loved it.  I am thrilled I have half a bottle left, though I suspect I won’t have it for long.  The whiskey, as it would seem, is always running out right when it was getting comfortable.

Templeton reminded me of what is so great about whiskey.  In case you are someone who is on the fence, I can elaborate.  Wine lovers will spend a life time seeking different vintners and vintages, food pairing and comparing wine cellars.  There will never be enough.  That pursuit is about as interesting as a having a mansion and never throwing parties in it.

Whiskey is the opposite.  While it’s great to try new whiskeys, I will buy my favorite brand 75% of the time.  I like the consistency.  I like a familiar taste attached to the memories you make (or can’t remember).  Whiskey is baseball.  It’s apple pie.  It’s something other countries do well, but we hang right in the with the best of them.  Like Templeton says, it’s “the good stuff”.

When compared to my current house whiskey, the Japanese Suntory offering of The Yamazaki 12 Year, Templeton exceeded my expectations.  Yamazaki has been my go-to for over a year now because it is smooth, bright and at $34 at BevMo right now, a good deal. While Templeton is a little more expensive, when it hopefully becomes available outside of Illinois and Iowa, I will be a loyal follower.  It reminded me of what American whiskey should feel like.  I would certainly order it online where it is currently available (CLICK HERE if you want to try it)

I set forth to the Red Line to head downtown on the subway with a warm belly and a head full of ideas.  We avoided the line at Seven Grand with an old smoke and mirrors tactic and even had time for a street taco.  We ended the evening hours later at the Pantry doing things the old school way, eating breakfast in the middle of the night that was prepared on a grease-laden griddle that’s clearly been battle tested.

While my bottle of Templeton was on the house, believe me I’d have no problem saying that it was only “OK” or not that good at all.  They were bold to stand up to the challenge I offered them.  Maybe I wouldn’t like it?  They handled it like a great poker play handles pocket aces.  They knew it was possible they could be beat, but it was unlikely and they went all in.

Let’s be honest.  They took the pot.

So consider me a new loyalist.  Put me on the payroll.  Tell me who I need to tell.  Since I started this blog, I always dreamed of being sponsored in some way by a whiskey maker.  It just seemed like a natural fit.  When Templeton rolls out to California, this is me offering to be their man on the ground.  Just like they were confident their product would hold up to the test, I am confident I’ll get their message out.  In fact, when my Whiskey Drinker’s Guide to Lost Angeles comes out, I’ll probably ask you guys to be our preferred beverage sponsor.  Just because you make great whiskey and  you “get it”.  America is the wild west.  Whiskey is our jam.  It is what fuels us to spit in the eye of death with a big, silly grin on our face.

In the meantime, here is my humble appeal to the good folks at Templeton.  Keep the drinks coming and if you make too much, feel free to send some my way.  I only have kind words for you, my new favorite export from Iowa.  The previous winner was Dodgers’ third baseman Casey Blake, but let’s be honest.   He never sent me an amazing bottle of whiskey.

Cheers, Templeton.


Filed under Rants and Musings

34 responses to “Templeton Rye.

  1. thirstyinla

    Nice, can’t wait to procure some Templeton myself. Have you tried Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey? If not, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it.

  2. Ron

    I am someone who HATES Whiskey. I’ve tried all forms of Bourbon (Jack, Jim Beam, etc.), Scotch (Glenfiddich) and Canadian (Yukon Jack and Canadian Mist). While visiting a friend of mine in Iowa, he bragged and bragged about this stuff. I reluctantly tried it mixed with diet cola (a sin, yes I know). I was blown away by how smooth it was. But like the writer, after a couple (even mixed by the cola), I realized that it’s a great social party whiskey.

    I’m fortunate to live in Illinois. My local upper-scale martini establishment carries it and there are even some bars in Chicago that carry it on tap out of miniature barrels. My local liquor store carries it as well (at the discounted price of $34.95 per bottle I might add).

    I’m 41 and have been looking for a more mature liquor to serve at dinner parties, etc. This is it. Enjoy it!

  3. Templeton is one of my favorites too.. The online store you linked to had it for 44.99, Binny’s has it for 34.99 and it is a bargain at that price


  4. I love this stuff! Except the only problem is that I live in Iowa, so I can never find a bottle of it! I can’t order it online bc binnys only ships to Illinois residents. Sadly, I haven’t had any TR for almost a year now.

  5. I live in Iowa and absolutely love Templeton Rye Whiskey. I have relatives and friends that live over seas, and I get request to ship them a bottle, or bring it with when I visit. I am glad to see you got a taste of some of the finer exports of Iowa.

  6. FloydYouman

    Hamuel…you need to look a littler harder. I have 5 bottles in the basement. 😉

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  9. Nor Cal Drinker

    I have been drinking Templeton Rye for over a year. I’m on my 2 case already.. I mail order from Binny’s. This stuff is the bomb

  10. Ian

    No offense, your review style could use a little work.
    Some compare and contrast would be good, for example, how does this compare with any of the other Rye whiskeys available on the market? Example: is this something for the Old Overholt or the Rittenhouse drinker would like? Why?

    Instead you called it “smooth” and compared it favorably to a Japanese, Barley-based whiskey in the Scottish style! And even then could not qualify important differences.

    Review how ever you want, but know: As a whiskey drinker, and bartender, I am left after reading your blog with absolutely no idea what this tastes like, if I would like it at all, and if it is worth hunting down.

    • Best comment ever. This guy has no idea….

    • Different reviews for different people, man.

      I saw it as a positive review that – were I someone who tended toward the lighter side of drinking – would make me want to try it (the fact that I already like it sort of clouds my judgment here, I suppose).

      In the end, is it necessary to leave this kind of feedback as a comment and then link to CS like it’s your website? I don’t get the need to publicly say something that’s the equivalent of “You suck and I am so much better than you.” If you think his review style is bad, why not an email, which would keep it between the two of you?

      If you wanted more info, then a comment would be nice because it would ensure that the answer was shared, but I don’t see any questions or anything being added to the conversation.

  11. I’m a big fan of Templeton too. While I prefer ryes with a bit more edge (Rittenhouse, Old Overholt, Wild Turkey) for mixing, Templeton is my favorite sipper hands down. I don’t even add ice. Hopefully it’ll be more widely distributed soon.

    If you like Templeton, I’d also suggest Sazerac 6-year-old, a.k.a. “Baby Saz” It’s availability comes and goes, but if you happen to see a bottle, I highly recommend grabbing it. It’s very smooth, and is oustanding either straight or mixed.

  12. Ted Crawford

    I live in Arizona, but was born, raised, and educated in Iowa. I was in Chicago recently and took a stroll over to a small neighborhood liquor store. I was scanning the whiskeys when, low and behold, a see this bottle of Templeton Rye on the shelf. I couldn’t believe it. I picked up the bottle and read the back label not really believing what I was seeing. I’ll be damned…they had made it legal.
    I was drinking Templeton Try illegally back inthe 70s and early 80s when a good buddy of mine (who knew someone in Templeton)used to bring a bottle of it (in a plain unlabeled bottle) on hunting and fishing trips. It was always something to look forward to at the end of the day. They have never stopped producing it..I am just glad that they are doing it on the up and up now so everyone can enjoy it. I am not a big whiskey drinker, but this stuff was unbelieveable.
    I never thought I would put it to my mouth again, I moved away from Iowa in 1984 and never made it back for any more fishing or hunting trips with my old friend who passed on last year.
    I hate to admit it, but I got choked up when I found it and now have it sitting on the bar in the family room for special occasions and for conversation. All I can say is that I paid 47.00 for the bottle and consider it a bargain. When the word gets out about Templeton Rye, those who try it will be believers.


    The Bigest problem we have around here, in South Texas, is that we have to drive to Chicago, or over to Iowa to find Templeton Whiskey … One knothead in Chicago actually refused to sell us more than one Case, and was dubious about that!!!

    At what point in the future can we expect production at Templeton to reach the level that you can Ship to Distributors in Texas ??? Not that we don’t enjoy the Trip and seeing the Country-side … but the more people that catch on to the taste of The Good Stuff down here, the more Trips we have to make up there … Time just doesn’t permit, and we DO NOT Shop/Buy anything on the Internet, and three Ex-wives taught me long ago NOT to own a Credit Card of any kind … Are y’all able to sell to the Public yet ??? At the Shop there ??? Long spates of y’all not cookin’ make things difficult for serious Devotee’s …

    Keep Up The Good Stuff !!!

    I J

  14. Sam

    I live in Iowa and was buying things for a Holiday Party Last weekedn and went to our Walmart and they Had ONE last bottle there on the Shelf, My friend whom was with Me Literally was Giddy like a schoolboy in a candyshop immediately Snatched it as we headed home to get ready for next days party and do a few quality controls of it while preping food. Yes don’t be surprised if your only allowed ONE case or One Bottle per person because it is only Made in Small Batches as said on bottles. Savor what ya can find and gets ahold of while it lasts. FYI the Next Batch is said to be in March of 2011 so Mark it down on your Calendars to keep an eye out for it shortly after the release time. It is Even hard to get your hands on it even in Iowa as well since it goes Like Hotcakes.

  15. Kristian Day


    My name is Kristian Day and I am a filmmaker from Des Moines, Iowa. I am currently in production of a documentary on Templeton Rye and I saw that you had reviewed the bottle awhile back.
    Would you be interested in sharing your thoughts once more for the film?

  16. Jeremy

    I am fortunate enough to say I live in Iowa, and Templeton Rye makes it worthwhile. It is really a gem of the mid-west. I have found that, given it’s small batch size, rationing is close to as important as procuring. I look forward to the documentary.

  17. Chip

    Kristian, Good luck with your documentary on Templeton. I promise that everyone in Iowa will find it extremely interesting, especially when you get to the part of it where everyone finds out that this stuff is made in Indiana. I agree that it is good stuff and I don’t really care where it’s made but would be nice if people were honest about it. People in Iowa are about as loyal as they come and are shocked when they feel like they are tricked into something special and home grown.

  18. NickyB

    The first time I had TR was out of a Mason jar in Odebolt, IA, and it was closer to white lightning than the spicy smooth mellowness of the 4-year aged TR that’s bottled “officially.” I never drank whiskey before… but I’m a huge fan of The Good Stuff. Plus, everybody loves a great story (I assume you’ve read the back of the bottle). It’s amazing where people would hide TR, in headstones, under fence posts, in hearses, under false floors… and currently – in my apartment in South Central L.A. 😉 Here’s to ya’.

  19. Joshua

    Matt- Being an Iowan , I too feel your pain about the difficulty of finding a bottle of The Good Stuff. All the liquor stores around me have lists you have to get on to get your hands on some. Got four in my closet but that’s not enough. Only break it out on very special occasions.
    Sam- Hope what you say is true about the next batch in March ’11. That means we should see some on the shelves for a day or two.
    I love Templeton, It’s the whiskey that got me into whiskey drinking. It will always be my favorite!

  20. Ali

    If you think that bottle of Templeton Rye was good, you should try the still illegally, secretly produced bootleg Templeton Rye, which is much smoother (and much stronger, at approx. 180 proof). That’s what Al Capone enjoyed, and that’s what we Carroll natives still prefer over the legal, small batch TR you can by at the store. You just gotta know who to ask.

    • Ron

      So where can i buy this stuff? I bought one at a place in Chicago, but they have closed. Binnys does not have it any more.

    • Brian

      Curious on who i have to ask….. My family grew up and still live in the area of Lake View, Wall Lake, and Sac. Feel free to email me some names if you want!!

  21. I got a bottle this weekend and tried and liked Templeton Rye; however, you should know that, while they have a beautiful brand, label, and hand-numbered bottles, it is made here: http://www.lawrenceburgdistillersindiana.com/ (love that website photo).

    Don’t get me wrong: the product is nice. And the fable is nice too.

  22. Brian

    I just had my first taste of it this weekend. Not being a whiskey drinker at all, I loved it!! Although you drank it for the taste, I was more compelled by the story behind it. My family grew up in the area of Templeton IA, and knew and still know a lot of the people involved with making it. Truelly an amazing whiskey and even better story to do with it. The only problem is that the stores that get it only get 5-8 bottles at a time, and is usually sold out in 10-15 mins.

  23. skip

    Scored a case today. Eat your hearts out! Great time to live in Iowa!

  24. Tom

    #1 – It’s not made in Iowa
    #2 – It’s not that good
    #3 – There’s a crapload in Illinois because no one wants it.

  25. khristin Hach

    I am also an Iowan but now live in New Zealand. My partner is a huge Jameson fan and I would like to get him a bottle for his birthday. Does anyone know who sends overseas?

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