It seems what goes around comes around again.  Take the case of rye whiskey.  Rye is, after rum, one of the first New World spirits.  It is the very first whiskey distilled in North America. George Washington made rye at Mt. Vernon.  By the time of Prohibition, rye was the primary whiskey used for cocktails. Most rye distilleries never reopened after Prohibition, in part thanks to the changing American palate, which grew to prefer lighter spirits and blended whiskeys. However, the rise of single-malt scotch whiskey in the 1980s, and the growth of small-batch bourbons has, in the last five years, led to a growing market for rye. 

The old favorite cocktails are rebounding; the Manhattan, the Sazerac, the Old Fashioned and the Rye and Ginger Ale top the list.


Templeton Rye comes out of Templeton, Iowa and has been produced there before prohibition, during prohibition, and of course after prohibition. The recipe has stood the test of time and even became known as the “good stuff” during prohibition when Al Capone was its prime distributor.  Well let’s see if it’s still the good stuff.

It has a pale golden color and comes in a bottle with a label reminiscent of the good old days.  It states right on that label that it is small batch rye whiskey derived from a prohibition era recipe. The nose is rich in rye and caramel with a hint of vanilla and oak with no alcohol fumes present.  It is gentle on the palate with sweet rye coming front and center followed by citrus notes, a touch of pepper, the caramel and finally the oak.  This spirit is very smooth in the finish and leaves a short but sweet after-taste with no harshness and no sting.  It is surprisingly well crafted and leaves a warm glow on the palate after swallowing.  This is good enough and complex enough to be sipped straight up from a snifter.

On the rocks, the nose softens to gentle rye notes, mild honey and light caramel aromas.  On the palate, that softness carries through and yet all the nuances of flavors are still distinctly present.  The finish is short and sweet with the rye forward and it is very smooth and citrusy.  On the rocks with ginger ale, it really flavors the ginger ale with the rye taste and the two combine into a very nice cocktail. This is a very good Rye Whiskey.

It ranges in price from $32.98 up to $39.99 per 750 ml bottle, and based on the taste, I’d say it’s worth the price.  If you like rye whiskey or if you haven’t tried rye whiskey, you should give Templeton a try because I do believe you’ll end up liking it.  I am very glad that it’s come around again, and actually, I’m glad it never left in the first place.


By George Brozowski