It’s been a year since we took to task the Iowa-based Templeton Rye for failing to disclose that it was not distilled in-house. Since then, Templeton has come clean, become transparent, and even announced plans to build a local distiller. Is it time to forgive them?
Whiskey geeks will have no trouble recalling that a little over a year ago Templeton was caught misleading consumers — by way of its "small batch" label — into thinking that, as producers, they were also distilling the product. They were not. They faced consumer backlash and a class-action suit.
The deception particularly angered consumers because it was the beginning of the current whiskey boom — a time when we’re all searching for the most authentic products. The label, a simple twist of marketing, made fools of us all.
A year later, whiskey drinkers are a bit wiser. We now know that Templeton, and plenty of others, are non-distilling producers, which selects and blends its stock from things produced in Indiana at MGP. And that's ok — they can still make great whiskey out of the process.
Look to High West, which makes great whiskey of its own, but also continues to purchase whiskey because they can do it well. People who distill their own whiskey are the true artisans, but people who can select prime barrels of whiskey are what we need. Every bottle of whiskey you’ve ever loved is the result of someone who knows what to bottle, and when.
Bringing us back to Templeton. No, we're not bought over by the fact that they're planning to build a distillery. It will be years until they produce a homemade product. What has changed our tune is a new product, Templeton Special Reserve 10 Year Old. We'll be blunt here: It's very good.
At 101 proof, Templeton Special Reserve 10 Year Old takes just a dash of water and becomes this complex (if delicate) drinking experience. Templeton has never been a full-bodied whiskey, so its flavors can be subtle. For people who usually take their whiskey with ice, this is a neat sipper with some water. It's a complex but easy-drinking whiskey. You could say it's forgiving.