Whiskey review: Templeton Rye aged 4 years

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Templeton Distillery. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final result of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link near the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

I have always liked brands with an interesting history. The Templeton Distillery certainly has one.

The area around Templeton, Iowa, was believed to be a hotbed of illicit rye whiskey during the Prohibition years. Legend has it that gangster Al Capone was a fan of the Iowa Hooch, which led to a 2011 documentary film titled, “Capone’s Whiskey: The Templeton Rye Story”.

In recent years, the brand has found itself in hot water for another kind of rule violation: unclear or misleading labels. After settling the class actions, Templeton agreed to begin labeling its whiskeys as made in Indiana because it sourced rye from Indiana. Pop ingredients –And remove words like “Prohibition Era Recipe”, as it is questionable if there was a single Templeton mash bill or process in the 1920s.

Things are set to change again from the next two years, when Templeton is expected to begin bottling whiskeys from its sparkling new distillery in Iowa.

In the meantime, the 2021 versions still feature MGP rye. The company buys aged MGP whiskey and blends it with aromas to achieve a profile that the distillery says is similar to that of Prohibition-era Iowa rye. It is then cut with distilled water and bottled in Templeton, Iowa.

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Using an MGP rye base isn’t necessarily a bad thing, anyway. MGP, one of the largest original whiskey suppliers in the industry, makes a medium rye that I generally like better than their bourbons.

Templeton Rye 4 years old (Image via Debbie Nelson)

Templeton Rye 4 years old (Image via Debbie Nelson)

Tasting Notes: 4 year old Templeton Rye

Vital Statistics: 95% rye and 5% barley puree ball; 40% alcohol by volume / 80 proof; $ 30 for a 750 ml bottle. Templeton, Iowa.

Appearance: Tawny color, watery legs.

Nose: The pungency of rye appears, but so does a sweetness. Hot Tamales candy and a pecan pie came to mind – an admittedly odd combination.

Palace: It is a good whiskey for people who don’t drink a lot of whiskey. It sounds like a junk, but it really isn’t. If you know someone who doesn’t like the scorching of a lot of whiskeys, pour them this one. The Templeton 4 Year is light and easy on the front. I taste mint, honey and something alkaline. My biggest problem is that it doesn’t do much from there. The finish is short and relatively ordinary.


This is perfectly acceptable rye at a reasonable price, which is two points in its favor. Its lack of complexity and quick melted finish, however, will largely relegate it to a cocktail mixer on my bar.

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