Templeton Rye is not (what most people would consider) a real rye. It is, though, legally a rye. It’s just not a straight rye which is what most people assume when they drink rye. It’s history is largely 💩. It’s not the first whisky with a questionable past, and won’t be the last, but Templeton has the distinct honour of being sued for their dishonesty. It stands along side with Tito’s Vodka claims to be hand made. Tito’s continues to be the best selling brand in North America, so I just 🤷♂️ at that, and whether it matters at all.
The fuzzy ground that Templeton Rye stands on is the lack of “straight” on the label. This means the company can legally add up to 2.5% by volume of flavoring additives without disclosing them on the bottle. In the case of Templeton Rye, they now (after the lawsuit) disclose the company they’ve gone to for flavoring components. That means artificial flavor is being added to this whisky, and that artificial flavor can be anything. (Quick note: There are plenty of ryes that aren’t straight ryes that don’t add artificial additives, so it’s unfair to make this association, but it comes down to the trust of the brand.)
Templeton Rye is a survivor, though. It wasn’t the only whisky brand that used questionable labeling practices during the boom of American whisky in the 2000s, and it isn’t the only one charging a lot of money for a modestly artificial flavored whisky. This was a common practice back in the day of five years ago. Templeton Rye, in big thanks to their marketing, did the best job of selling the concept (it’s also a terrific name!). Because of their success, the scrutiny became relentless. Eventually, lawyers decided to make some money in a class-action lawsuit. If you bought Templeton Rye between 2006 and 2015, you were entitled to a payback.
At any rate, Templeton Rye’s story is probably largely fake. So are many other stories out there in the whisky world. Not to pick on Elijah Craig Bourbon, but literally everything about the story behind the brand is also made-up. But at least, in my mind, Heaven Hill makes straight proper bourbon.
How does it taste? Not bad! Look. I know you’re going to be horrified at me suggesting it’s not bad, but in all honestly, this is a fine whisky. They’ve really homed in on the flavor components that work. The problem with Templeton Rye is how much the consumer is paying for an okay whisky. But, with the success of Tito’s hand-made vodka (hint: it’s not hand-made), does it really matter?
Templeton Rye 6 Year Old
Category: Non-Distillery-Producer (though they do have their own distillery), Rye, Flavouring Agents
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Nose: Lovely notes of brown sugar, with that Tennessee whiskey sort of “mix it with cola” underlying note. The rye floral note is a little flat (comparing it to some other high ryes), but it stands up to the brown sugar note. The herbal note is present, black tea mixed with something fruity.
Palate: The rye hits the palate hard, and the brown sugar and butter notes cover the palate nicely. Good orange citrus and nice peppery spice. Wishing for more of an adventure, but this is an overly fine whisky on the palate.
Conclusion: Remarkably better than my first impression of this product from several years ago. I’m a sucker for the MGPI 95% rye mash bill, which this seems to be. However, it doesn’t add anything new or remarkable to the story and the product continues to be based on mistruths. The Whiskey Jug even listed five reasons not to buy it. They’re all great reasons to avoid Templeton Rye. However, I’m no longer outraged at tasting it, so there’s that.