Templeton Rye Review

Templeton Rye Review
Normally this is where I would give a little back story on the brand and talk about any unique aspects or little nuggets of trivia about the brand, but since we now know that the story Templeton Rye has been trying to sell us is complete bullshit there’s really no point. Instead, as the above picture would imply, I’m going to use this section to hop up on a little soap box and do a wee bit of venting.

Since day one Templeton has lied about where its product came from and now they are even getting sued over it. I’ve already covered whiskey NDPs and how I feel about them so no sense in doing that again. Instead, let’s talk about why Templeton Rye has received the first 00 in The Whiskey Jug history. I’ll give you hint… It all has to do with the recent admission of them adding a flavoring to their whiskey.

Yes you read that right, this is actually a flavored whiskey. I don’t cover flavored whiskey here on the Jug for a reason. Not because it isn’t possible for them to taste alright, but because I’d be reviewing nothing more than the ability of some guy in a lab to create a flavor and the ability of the producer to pour it into vats of whiskey and bottle it. Which is exactly what Templeton does. They take the stock 95% rye whiskey from MGP up to their BOTTLING PLANT in Templeton, IA where they dump the barrels, mix in the flavoring and then bottle it. The only skill and craft on their part in this whole process has been in creating the web of lies that surround the brand.

Look at the label. It says that it’s made from a “Prohibition Era Recipe”, but Clarendon (the chemical company creating the flavoring) was founded about 60 years after prohibition ended. So how the famous Templeton bootleggers they espouse would have gotten their hands on those flavoring chemicals to add to their whiskey is beyond me. Because, if you add it to the liquid IT’S PART OF THE RECIPE. I can’t add chocolate chips to my Grandma’s snickerdoodle recipe and say that I made Grandma’s snickerdoodles… it doesn’t work that way. I made Grandma’s snickerdoodles with added chocolate chips.

If you want video proof of their willful deceit take a look at Templeton’s own Chief Bullshit Artist Keith Kerkoff in a recent interview where he admits that he couldn’t call his Grandfather’s whiskey a rye whiskey “simply because of what was uh in the recipe”. He goes on to say how they went out and found rye (obviously not proprietary if they find it) and then added flavor to it to get it to taste like his grandpa’s whiskey.

He then goes on to say “With the heritage and the history of Templeton rye we wanted to keep the Templeton Rye name”… seriously? In 10 seconds he admits that the whole story is bullshit, that they’re not actually using the prohibition recipe they claim they are and that he’s just exploiting the history of the town by using its name. Now compare that to story on their bottles and site and there is a night and day difference. Yet he still claims that he’s never misled anyone and that the big bad Chicago Lawyers are the bad guys here.

The bottom line to me is that he’s a liar and his product can’t properly be evaluated because he adds flavoring so you don’t know which flavors and aromas you should be attributing to MGP and which ones you should be attributing to Clarendon. Either way, exactly none of the tasting notes below should be attributed to Mr. Kerkoff and his not-so-prohibition-era “recipe”.

Templeton Rye Review

ABV: 40%
Age: 4ish years
Price: $36
Mashbill: 95% rye 5% barley

Distiller: MGP
Flavor Chemist: Clarendon Flavor Engineering
Bottler: Templeton Rye Spirits, LLC.
Orange caramel

Spiced orange candy, dill, rye spice, clove, some earthy underpinnings, a bit of wood and a spice that reminds me Moroccan food. I can’t pin down exactly which spices it’s reminding me of, but that could have been the chemist’s or Kerkhoff’s intent all along… who knows.

Ambiguous sweetness, rye spice, dill, gummy orange slices candy, cinnamon, clove, touch of wood and raw grains. The dill in both the nose and the palate remind me of other MGP 95% rye whiskies like Bulleit rye, Dickel rye and some of the Willet rye releases which makes sense. Though I honestly don’t know what flavors come from the whiskey and which come from the added flavoring. There’s no way of knowing.

Medium in length with notes of clove, cinnamon, dill, anise, wood, and rye which pops a bit as it fades out, or maybe that’s the flavoring chemicals popping on my tongue. Your guess is as good as mine.

The overzealous spice shifts it a bit off balanced. It has more bite that an 80 proof should have and the medium body doesn’t really do much for it one way or the other. It’s drinkable neat, but the heavy spices and aggressive texture works better in cocktails.

To state it again, the reason Templeton scored a big fat 00 is because of their use of flavoring. If I were To assign a score it would be an 81, but that number wouldn’t have any bearing at all on the distiller and if they did a great job of managing their ingredients, the distillation process, barrel program, etc. It would be saying the folks down at Clarendon Flavor Engineering created a flavor that scored an 81.

First these jerks lie through their teeth about where the whiskey comes from, then they reveal that what you’re tasting isn’t even the whiskey at all but an artificial flavor slurry they add to the whiskey before bottling it. The prohibition roots of this whiskey? A lie. The flavor and aroma of their whiskey? A lie. Me ever trusting them, even if they make massive changes to what they do and how they produce their product? Not fucking likely.

SCORE: 00/100

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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Filed Under: Rye

34 Responses to Templeton Rye Review

  1. My girlfriend and I used Templeton for Old Fashioned’s and we liked it. It was on sale the other day so I picked up a bottle. Something tasted a little off, so I decided to Google the ingredients. That’s when I found your review. Thanks for putting it online! I don’t like artificially flavored, falsely marketed products. I feel pretty ripped off. Wish I could return it.

  2. In all fairness, bootleggers put a bunch of bullshit chemicals in their whiskey to make it go further… maybe that’s the prohibition roots of the recipe Templeton is talking about???

  3. Always intrigued by the marketing of this product but never pulled the trigger as it always sounded a bit gimmicky. Any further interest in this product has now been permanently derailed. Thank you for your review with best wishes.

  4. I hadn’t been drinking whiskey long when I bought a bottle of this and was impressed enough to visit the website, join the club, etc. Bought a second bottle even though it was pushing $40.I knew the backstory had to be 90% BS but I figured there had to be some truth to it, right? With the picture of the still at the “distillery” right there on the website I was correct in assuming it was being distilled in Iowa, yes? Then after hearing of the existence of LDI/MGP it was okay to forgive them as long as I was getting a quality (albeit overpriced) product, correct? I mean the number of NDP’s is growing by the day, many with BS stories just as outrageous as Templeton’s. Definitely not what I’d call lawsuit worthy. Then I find out they are adding flavoring? That’s the kicker. I’m fine with you selling me sourced juice as long as it is “honest” sourced juice. However, I’m definitely not okay with being served a chemical that’s not listed on the bottle. My box of cereal, can of soup, package of cookies, etc. may be packed full of chemicals, but at least they are listed on the package. Never again, and Mr. Kerkhoff…I’m still waiting on my check.

  5. […] Templeton Rye is MGP rye and MGP rye is not a prohibition recipe. It’s made from 95% rye, 5% barley and it’s the exact same rye whiskey that’s in Bulleit Rye, George Dickel Rye, High West Double Rye and High West Rendezvous Rye and all of those companies admit it. How can it be a family recipe if it’s A) the same stuff all of these companies use and B) a modern MGP creation? Is your last name Metze? Stop lying you unrepentant asshat. […]

  6. Templeton isn’t a rye whiskey at all, it’s a liqueur/cordial by TTB standards. Check TTB chapter 4 if you don’t believe me – it’s at best a “Rye Liqueur/Rye Cordial” due to the addition of (what i’d assume is <2.5%/vol) flavoring. The more ya know.

  7. Thank you for this article. I’m sitting comfortably in my living room sipping on Tenpleton Rye 6yr and had been enjoying it until I read this. Now I just feel tricked and angry at them for misrepresenting what a true rye whiskey is.
    I’m glad I know to steer clear of this stuff in the future.
    Thank you for doing the research!

  8. My usual day off from bartending:

    Purchase whiskey. Evaluate whiskey. Visit Whiskey Jug.

    Must say I gave a double take at the “00” and figured it to be an error! After reading your review and checking out some articles, I think it is great that you left this posted here instead of dismissing it all together. Thanks for the insight, as I don’t steer much further from your knowledge-bank of a site.

    Thank you for this wonderful resource of educated opinion that has become a staple in my whiskey journey!

  9. I like Old Overholt, and the Templeton bottle had a nice visual. After a second try and realizing my first impression was right, googled it and landed here. Need trust from companies who products you use, especially ingest. Drinking Yuengling now to push out the crap. Complain tomorrow to my liquor store to get it fully out of my system. A free nearly full bottle of the dubious stuff to the first taker.

  10. Hiya Josh,

    As a somewhat new whiskey enthusiast, I’ve really enjoyed your content over the past few weeks, and in fact just switched to Dickel #12 as my go-to since learning from your comments section that Jim Beam Black had recently, and rather quietly, obfuscated its loyal customers with a minor label change…and a major corresponding change in quality. I’d simply assumed my taste buds aren’t what they were a few years ago… DOH! I’ve also been looking for the similarly bargain-priced McKenna offerings you and others here have recommended as solid bargains, but there’s not much I’ve found locally around Austin. Are there outlets you recommend from which I might order some, or does TABC prohibit that in TX? Also, I noticed lots of folks keep asking for your SBS of the older vs. newer Beam Black – hopefully the “shot” I just bought you will allow that to happen rather soon. Thanks again.

    Now I’m reading here about Templeton Rye’s fall from grace, and it struck a *very* personal chord. You see, my parents both grew up in rural Iowa, one in Breda, the other in Denison, with Templeton not 30 miles away from either of them, as the crow flies. In fact, when my grandmother passed away a few years back, we visited several historical favorites: The old dance hall next to Storm Lake where they’d gone on their first of many dates there, Dad’s old home in Denison that, at the time, was just two doors down from governor L.W. Shaw, who would go on to serve as Treasury Secretary under Teddy Roosevelt, and of course, with so many stories and tastes over the years of Templeton’s “Good Stuff”, we had to visit the new distillery. Until then, the “legal” stuff was impossible to find in Texas, and hard to find even in Iowa, thus we’d only tasted the (arguably moreso, ha!) illegal variety. Indeed, I’d thought it quite peculiar how small the facility was, even having not visited a distillery of any kind before then. Now I know why.

    Shame on you, Keith Kerkoff! SHAME ON YOU!!!

    Keep fighting the good fight, Josh, and here’s to tasting many a good tastes along the way…


    • Wow, thank you for the great comment and sharing that personal story, I loved reading it! As for your question, I don’t know what the shipping laws are in TX, but I do know of a great liquor store in Houston called Nasa that carries a great variety and they might be able to ship inside of TX. If other states can ship into TX check out Ace online. Hope that helps.

      Cheers Nick!

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