A single barrel rye reputed to be Al Capones’ favorite – I can see why
Update: This review was originally written on April 11th 2012. Long before the current lawsuit. The rye was selected to be as close as possible to the old time rye of the prohibition period – not made in house from grain to bottle. We still stand behind our review as to the quality and value of this rye compared to many others. In another section of this website we are going to explore the differences between blending,bottling,rectifying or field to flask and will hyperlink to that piece when it is done. But we still think Templeton is a damn fine product and it is unfortunate if some people misunderstood the thicket of production terms out there and thought they produced this all by themselves at that point before they got the in house production going.
Notes: This is the 5 year-old Rye which is about the right age for a rye to start to come onto its own. This whiskey is bottled at small start-up distillery in Templeton Iowa home of a much revered Rye during Prohibition and reputed to be Al Capone’s favorite whiskey. Good enough to be named after its town of origin (Templeton Rye) or also known as “The Good Stuff”. This whiskey is a direct descendent using the same recipe (and no doubt higher production standards). This is a single barrel rye, which makes it unusual (if not unique) in rye production these days.
Appearance: Deep amber, old copper/bronze in the bottle, northern wheat in the glass. Nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whiskey. On swirling, with scattered droplets rather than legs developing. Color looks more like a 15 year-old scotch than a 5 year-old american whiskey.
First Impression: Rye spiciness, leather, toffee, allspice, malt, dried dark fruits. Clean spicy finish.
Taste: Thick rye malt body,almost chewy in texture and mouth feel. There is a spicy sourness with an underlying sweetness that make for a outstandingly mellow rye of breadth and complexity.The rye is well tempered with other grains to make a excellent stand-up rye that combines the fire and strength of grain balanced with sweetness and careful aging.
Drinks: If you want to make a faithful recreation of bygone cocktails, especially those hailing from Prohibition, this one fits the bill nicely. Rye is, of course, the proper whiskey for a Manhattan. Bourbon was later substituted as rye was on the brink of extinction for a number of years until recently, but rye was the original ingredient. This one is young enough to shine in a Manhattan and mature enough not to overwhelm the drink. If only other 5 year-olds were as well behaved as this one.The body and spiciness of this rye,coupled with its assertive but mellow character make it a great ingredient for many rye drinks and a fair amount of bourbon-based drinks as well.
Cigars: Works well with a mild Davidoff, Ashton or any other mild but spicy cigar.
Bottle: Heavy-bottomed glass decanter with steeply sloped shoulder leading to neck, reminiscent of a piece of labware and heavy enough to be used as a weapon, gives the feel of a serious bottle of whiskey. Simple graphics, but nice details that give the genealogy of each bottle (batch,barrel, and bottle #’s) and plenty of open space to appreciate the color of the whiskey.
Final Thoughts: Most people who have tried rye in the past 40 years or so would rather drink broken glass than rye because of their experience of the commonly available products. This has led to a further neglect of this type of whiskey in production, use in cocktails and consumer opinion. However, this rye has the potential to change all that. A small distillery with a dedicated staff is showing what is possible. The revival of this recipe/style is a milestone in spirits production.
Web site: http://www.templetonrye.com Fast loading with extensive information and good pictures, with interviews of different people and their stories about Templeton Rye during Prohibition. Great source of first person narratives on bootlegging.