TEMPLETON 10 YEAR RYE
Single Barrel #2906 (2022)
MASH BILL – 95% rye, 5% malted barley
PROOF – 104
AGE – 10 years
DISTILLERY – Templeton (sourcing from MGP)
PRICE – $64 on sale (normally ~$80)
WORTH BUYING? – Yes
This is a good deal, for sure, and before one even tastes it. With other non-distiller producer’s (NPDs) out there offering similar or lesser specs at much higher prices, Templeton’s entry into the well-aged, well-proofed single barrel MGP rye market is welcomed.
Yet I’ve noticed it just sits there on the shelf, and long enough for me to have picked this bottle up at a discount. Maybe that’s a garden variety matter of FOMO’s fickle hand. Or maybe it’s residual bad juju from 2015, when Templeton was hit with three class-action lawsuits over their misleading labels. They weren’t naming the whiskey’s state of origin, instead implying it was their own family recipe revived. Also, they were adding a compound of flavorings, which means they could not call it “straight” rye. Irked customers could apply for anything from a $1 to $36 refund, depending on whether they purchased their Templeton at a store or in a bar, and would get more if they still had their receipt, less if they didn’t. Templeton was obliged to pay out up to $2.5 million max.
One must wonder how many customers actually went to the trouble to collect. At any rate, this gave Templeton a bad name among whiskey fans. Casual drinkers likely didn’t blink.
I remember my first glass of Templeton. This would have been in early 2016. It was a glass of the 6 Year I ordered at a restaurant. I found it overly sweet. Around that time I also picked up a bottle of the 4 Year at a corner store, and this too crossed a sweet line for me. I knew nothing of the lawsuit at that time, or that they were adding flavorings. But to me the whiskey tasted fake. Funny then to learn it was!
But this 10 Year SiB doesn’t suffer from those stupid early marketing or blending choices. It’s straight rye whiskey, distilled at MGP in Indiana, well aged at a full decade, offered at a solid three-digit proof in single barrel outings, and priced at two-digits even before it goes on sale! Who’s offering that combo anymore? Anyone else bottling something in the realm of those specs—e.g. Hughes or Old Carter—charges a lot more, and sometimes doesn’t even offer an age statement.
So is the Templeton 10 good?
Here we are, just over two weeks after uncorking and four pours into the bottle. These brief notes were taken using a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – dusty and toasted oranges with brassy glints
NOSE – fresh rye spices, dill, dry baking spices not yet baked, smoothly sanded oak, finely ground black pepper, a dollop of caramel, some milk chocolate
TASTE – lively and tangy, syrupy, rich, with orange zest, caramel, milk chocolate, mint
FINISH – chocolates with cherry liqueur inside, the rye and baking spices, dark graham cracker, some mint
OVERALL – lovely, layered, familiar, and excellent
This is a kind of best of several worlds scenario. Great price, a familiar and pleasing flavor profile, and great specs on the label that actually deliver a great overall tasting experience. Quite different than those cloying, sweet, phony outings I had with Templeton six years ago. For integrity, value, quality, and taste, I’d put this bottle up there among the best MGP ryes I’ve had.
Sometimes familiarity can be a bore, either when I’ve overdosed on the given flavor profile or a bottling doesn’t have any particular panache to it. This Templeton 10 is familiar, but also has the panache. It’s genuinely rich and lively, and so well balanced.
That balance is between the herbal, candy, and various baking spice notes. The familiar experiences it takes me back to include ryes like the aforementioned Hughes Belle of Bedford and a Riverset Single Barrel I enjoyed, though the latter is distilled in Tennessee. Also takes me a bit to that stellar 2021 Sagamore 8 year. And though this Templeton isn’t quite as luxurious in taste and feel, a 2014 Willett 8 Year SiB also comes to mind.
For some people, a dill note is a deal breaker. But I dig it. Always makes me want to poach or grill up a salmon or some other Nordic dish. Overall, that balance at work is at once delicate and confident. A feeling of being in good hands. It’s vibrant and striking, but not showy. Along with the dill, this quality is also what takes me to Scandinavia. Memories of meals and of architecture from a trip to Finland come to mind—the clean lines of presentation, clear colors, and unfussy elegance.
In its own ways, the whiskey business is as silly as theater or art or Hollywood movies, or any other leisure business subject to taste and passing fashion. Truly great things can hide in plain sight, unrecognized, when timing and circumstance conspire. I’m so glad I let go of my habitual disregard for Templeton and gave this bottle a shot. I highly recommend any MGP rye fan wake up to this sleeper as well, if they haven’t already.