Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Templeton Rye. Hoist On Its Own Petard?

There are some subjects that keep recurring, so often I get tired of writing about them. One is the great spelling controversy--to "e" or not to "e"--another is Jack Daniel's; bourbon or not?

Today it's whiskey producers who call themselves distilleries but whose products are made by somebody else. I wrote about it here and many, many other places, but when I saw this picture I just couldn't resist.

It's a picture, supplied by them, of Templeton Rye barrels. See, it says "Templeton Rye" right there on the head. But look at what else it says, "distilled 10/03."

Leaving open the possibility that "10/03" does not mean October, 2003, one can compare that date with the fact that Templeton Rye was formed and received its alcoholic beverage producers license in 2005. You can figure out the rest.


Unknown said...

Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) and the Old Pogue Distillery are exactly the same. You would scarcely guess from their labels and promotions that neither distills a drop of whiskey. One of the Pogue brothers once swore to me that the brand was distilled by KBD. He claimed to be entirely unaware that KBD does not own a working still, at least not yet.

Unknown said...

Hello Mr. Cowdery,

This is Killmer from Templeton Rye. I saw this post and wanted to respond. We have never denied working with a distillation partner and have spent an incredible amount of time and money building a distillery and growing rye in Templeton.

I was standing right there when Scott explained this all to you at the ADI conference in Kentucky in 2008 and our history is explained in detail on our website -

Happy Holidays!

Chuck Cowdery said...

All true, but also disingenuous, since everything in Templeton's marketing is intended to give the impression that you made the product you are selling, which you did not. Even the barrels in the picture obviously became Templeton barrels after the fact.

When Scott and I met in 2008, he also said he had something you made for me to taste. I'm still waiting.

Max Watman said...

This problem is endemic to the industry, I think, and it’s manifest at every level. 8-times pot distilled vodka? Craft distilled gin? “Small” batch anything? You know this stuff better than I do, by far. Some of it’s true, I suppose, in some way. But the fact remains that most consumers, standing before the shelf, believe that Old Charter and Ancient Age are made at different distilleries, too. I think there’s a truth in labeling reckoning coming.

Chuck said...

After tracing through the old posts on this topic (and having drunk my share of Templeton Rye) it seems pretty clear to me that they are using whiskey from Canada. It's too bad they can't or won't say what it is. Canadian whiskey seems to exist in an even bigger information vacuum than American whiskey.

I don't think any of this takes away from Templeton, which is a good-tasting whiskey, whatever its source. I hope that when/if they do transition over to home-made stuff, they can maintain the flavor profile.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you are singling out Templeton. 80% of the brands on the market have fictitious distillery names on them. Even the one in your latest post, Old Grand Dad. So Templeton is only acting within industry practice.

BTW Killmer, great stuff, keep up the good work.

Doctor Tarr said...

Old Grand Dad is made by the company that sells it. They don't buy it from another distiller. They do use the "Old Grand Dad" name on the label, not Beam, but they make no secret of the fact that it is Beam Global.

Justin Victor said...


I realize this is an older blog entry but your blog is the first I have come across to expose the truth about Templeton Rye outside of Iowa and Chicago.

I was recently in Des Moines and sought the occasion to pick up a bottle of a spirit I cannot get at home. I was somewhat surprised to discover that no one in Des Moines had any. More surprising though was how disenchanted ALL the liquor store owners I spoke to were with Templton in general.

First, I agree with your comment that everything in Templeton's "press kit" leaves you with the impression that this whiskey is grown, malted, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged, and bottled in Templeton Iowa. This is most ertainly the impression I had. And as you have disclosed, about all that is actually done in templeton is the bottling. This fact seems to have left a bad taste in the mouth of many Iowa store owners who feel that Templeton Rye is hiding the truth. They have not taken kindly to a company claiming to be an Iowa product that is created in Indiana. I can't say that I blame them.

Templeton is off my wish list for now. It may be a good whiskey but part of its draw for me was the craft distiller image. With that off the table I will not go out of my way to get some. Templeton is to me, as you would say, a potemkin whiskey bottler.

I am new to your blog Chuck, but keep up the good work. I found your URL through Ralfy Mitchell at I agree with your comments on his vlogs about scotch and other whisk(e)y.



Chuck Cowdery said...

If I pick on Templeton it is because they have been so successful here in Chicago. I see their bar signs and other promotional stuff everywhere.

Scott Bush, Templeton's president, has finally acknowledged that Templeton Rye is made by LDI in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and always will be. Templeton has a distillery in Iowa but nothing made there has ever been sold, except for in very limited release in and around Templeton itself.

I note that Templeton was founded in 2005. If they had begun to make whiskey in 2005, they would have six-year-old whiskey maturing next year. They don't and they won't because they are a Potemkin distillery.