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jpact
06-29-2009, 11:37
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009906280325

Iowa rye whiskey's popularity places demand on maker

Ask Brian Duax about Iowa's best-known, least-available whiskey, and one of the first phrases to spout from his lips is "a pain in the ass."

Duax, co-owner of Central City Liquors in Des Moines, said he gets an average of 30 to 35 phone calls a day inquiring about Templeton Rye, a three-year-old whiskey brand made from a Prohibition-era recipe developed by moonshining Iowa farmers. The calls come from regular retail customers and from the roughly 300 bars and restaurants that Central City supplies through its wholesale license.
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Duax's answer for most of this year has been the same: No, he doesn't have any. Nor, usually, do Duax's competitors.

For some, that's starting to get annoying.

"When none of us have enough Templeton to supply to any of our customers, a lot of my bars are just saying, 'Screw 'em, Templeton is going to die,' " Duax said. "It's not dying. But it could, and I think, it probably will, if they don't get some Templeton here."
Made in Iowa

Short supplies and long demand landed the makers of Templeton Rye in their second round of shortages since the prize-wining brand launched. The whiskey is based on a recipe lauded by the 1920s Chicago gangsters who purchased it during Prohibition. The rye was produced legally for the first time after distillery president Scott Bush persuaded Templeton, Ia., old-timers to share a mostly quiet part of their past.

The initial batch of Templeton Rye, produced by third parties outside Iowa, sold out less than four months after its 2006 launch and was followed by eight months with no whiskey on retail shelves. The company expanded production and moved into Illinois bars and restaurants the following year, then ramped up again with an expansion at its Templeton, Ia., distillery in 2008.

Bush said Iowa consumers still receive 70 percent to 80 percent of every drop Templeton Rye produces. It's simply not enough.
Faced with shortages again in 2009, Templeton makers decided to ration Iowa shipments, based on a schedule that for most of the year will supply 400 to 500 cases a month for the entire state. Additional rationing by Iowa's Alcoholic Beverages Division means whiskey distributors for much of the year have been able to purchase no more than one six-bottle case of Templeton Rye per week. But the state's supply usually runs out before most distributors place their third order of the month.
Short supply frustrates maker

Lynn Walding, head of the state liquor agency, said Bush could have raised prices to choke back demand but chose not to. A bottle retails for $36-$40. The state's one-case-per-week move is simply to spread the whiskey among as many outlets as possible.

"The bottom line is there's no way to make everyone happy," Walding said. "The reality is that most retailers can turn that product very quickly, so you're essentially giving them cash."
Bush concedes the frustration and says his company underestimated demand - an easy thing to do considering that each batch of "the good stuff" must age for four years before it's sent to market.

"Very simply put, we're still a small company," Bush said. "When we started this company, we were an extremely small company. ... The biggest annoyance for us is that retailers and bartenders, who we consider our best customers and who are going to help us grow this brand in the future, are frustrated."

A big batch now in the pipeline will quintuple supply and should alleviate most shortages, Bush said. But that's not scheduled to be ready until fall 2010.

"What we're telling people is, 'Look, we're not going anywhere. And we hope that very soon the inventory situation, for Iowa at least, will be relieved,' " Bush said. "Until then, we're asking for some patience."
Customers mostly patient

Patience seems to be thinning in some quarters but getting mixed with perseverance in others.
Nevres Sehic, manager of Ingersoll Wine and Spirits, said his Templeton Rye waiting list usually runs 30 names. Most customers happily wait six weeks or so before they get their chance at a bottle, Sehic said. Not one person has ever turned it down when he's called.

At the Jordan Creek Parkway Hy-Vee in West Des Moines, liquor department manager John Weber said he doesn't keep a list. Well-studied customers have learned to be on hand when the whiskey shipment arrives on Wednesday mornings. "I don't even put it on the shelf anymore, because within a half-hour of it coming in, I'll have five or six people ask about it, and they get it," Weber said. "Occasionally, it's made it to noon."
Walding said demand has been further fueled by Templeton Rye's marketing efforts - the company created a barbecue sauce largely so it could have something to sell at the downtown Des Moines farmers market - but Bush balks at suggestions he's over-hyping a product the company can't deliver.

Among other things, farmers market appearances give Templeton Rye makers a chance to talk to people and explain production issues, Bush said.

"If it's frustrating for other people, take that times-10 is how I feel," he said. "Every day, I wake up and we don't have enough product is a day I'm not allowed to grow this company" the way I want to.
Will demand remain?

Duax, who calls Templeton Rye "the hottest product I've ever seen come through the state of Iowa," estimates he could sell 50 cases a month if he had them.

He and others warn not to overestimate consumer interest.

"I would be a little nervous if I was with Templeton only because people eventually do move on," said Weber of Hy-Vee. "By the time they catch up with demand, there may not be demand."

"I think it's borderline," about whether demand can wait until October 2010. "If it was much longer than that, they might have a problem."

DeanSheen
06-29-2009, 13:19
I hope the Rye buzz keeps building. I would love it if there were even 1/4 as many Rye's as there are bourbons.

ILLfarmboy
06-29-2009, 17:15
Either TR is wildly more popular in central and Western Iowa than in the eastern third and just across the river into Illinois or that article is an effort to salt the mine/ whip up hype. I'm suspicious. TR has never been in short supply in Davenport Iowa or, ever since Illinois distribution, across the river in Moline, Rock Island, Silvis or Milan. Nor has it been in short supply further Southeast in Galesburg or Peoria ILL. In fact Templeton reduced their price by five bucks not long ago.

p_elliott
06-30-2009, 07:59
Either TR is wildly more popular in central and Western Iowa than in the eastern third and just across the river into Illinois or that article is an effort to salt the mine/ whip up hype. I'm suspicious. TR has never been in short supply in Davenport Iowa or, ever since Illinois distribution, across the river in Moline, Rock Island, Silvis or Milan. Nor has it been in short supply further Southeast in Galesburg or Peoria ILL. In fact Templeton reduced their price by five bucks not long ago.

It's the only Rye I can buy in the town I live in and I can buy all I want. I have to go out of town to buy WT Rye 101. I was going to post this article JPACT beat me to it.

tommyboy38
06-30-2009, 08:25
I also was thinking about posting as I just stumbled upon this story this morning. Who in their right mind can't wait to plunk down $40 on a 4 year old rye?? As far as supply mentioned by the previous posts, I will add that you can find all you want in the Chicago area.

Josh
06-30-2009, 08:39
I also was thinking about posting as I just stumbled upon this story this morning. Who in their right mind can't wait to plunk down $40 on a 4 year old rye?? As far as supply mentioned by the previous posts, I will add that you can find all you want in the Chicago area.

I had some at the gazebo in April and it was very good. Maybe $40 good. What I'd really like to try is some Rendezvous. Two good old fasioned Indiana ryes :skep:

tommyboy38
06-30-2009, 08:52
It may be good and I can't recall what I thought of it when I sampled it at Whiskyfest but I think a 4 year old whiskey should be somewhere south of $20...maybe even $15.
There are a lot of things I like but if the price doubled, I'd like them alot less.

ILLfarmboy
06-30-2009, 09:01
40 dollars good... naw...35 dollars good, only if it was bottled at 94 plus proof.

It does have a nice flavor profile, but it is a weak 80 proof.

p_elliott
06-30-2009, 10:12
You know I'm beginning to think Templeton Rye is just getting good at manipulating the media for it's own good. They almost got a law passed in their favor last year about tastings and selling at the the distillery.

cowdery
06-30-2009, 10:43
I'm amazed that the newspapers just repeat all that bunk about the pre-prohibition formula. I'm also amused that apparently LDI either won't sell to them or has nothing more to sell. Templeton Rye is good but Rittenhouse is just as good for less than one-third the price. Bush has done a good job of selling the hype. People are buying it. And even though it now seems likely that we'll never see anything actually made in Templeton reach the market, he has to put something in his bottles.

I wonder what this batch is that won't be ready until Fall of 2010. Could it be something they actually made? Or did they buy white dog from LDI and are aging it themselves? Scott, of course, will never tell.

ILLfarmboy
06-30-2009, 13:31
I'm begining to have as dim a view of Templeton as Chuck has had from the get go.

jpact
06-30-2009, 19:53
I won't begrudge Chuck and Brad their pessimism, but if my $40 helps a new small business get closer to distilling AND marketing their own aged product, I'll give it a shot. Haven't seen this on the shelf in my neighborhood, but I drive through central and northern IL a few times a year and may get my chance. Besides, it can't possibly be the worst whiskey purchase I've made (High Plains Most Wanted, WR Sweet Mash anybody?) I'd like to see how US micro distilling shakes out over the next 10 years and hope for some diamonds in the rough.

-Jim

cowdery
07-01-2009, 10:13
I won't begrudge Chuck and Brad their pessimism, but if my $40 helps a new small business get closer to distilling AND marketing their own aged product, I'll give it a shot.

I might agree with you, Jim, if I believed it was true. Not only am I not convinced that it will ever happen, I'm not convinced that was ever really the vision.

Martian
07-01-2009, 14:02
Chuck, I bought a bottle of Rittenhouse Rye 80 proof last winter. The stuff literally gave me a headache. I put the bottle away and tried it a couple of weeks later. Another headache. I've never experienced this strange phenomenon with any other spirit. I had to pour it out.

cowdery
07-01-2009, 14:56
The BIB (100 proof) is better, though your results may vary.

tommyboy38
07-01-2009, 18:54
Chuck,
I searched this site but I found no other reference to LDI. Who are they?
And is there no actual distilling aparatus at Templeton?

I think the whiskey is almost $40 a bottle to fund development of their website. It's pretty slick.

callmeox
07-01-2009, 19:22
This is LDI (http://www.lawrenceburgdistillersindiana.com/) a very large contract/bulk distiller.

p_elliott
07-02-2009, 09:26
I put the author of this article to task and he never went to Templeton IA so he doesn't know if they have a still or not. They admit that it is a vatting of what made in Iowa? (my ? mark) and what's made else where. He really had not done his home work very well and had left out vital information .

cowdery
07-02-2009, 13:51
Reporters report. It wouldn't have been so bad if he had just made it clear that the information was coming from the company owner and he wasn't verifying it.

For the newspaper, this is a puff piece. The real story, I think, was the part about the store owners and consumers who are genuinely miffed. A little scarcity goes a long way. This doesn't seem good for business.

As for whether or not they have a still, their original website used a photograph of a still clipped from the manufacturer's catalog. It was not even the model they owned. I subsequently saw photographs of their still, which externally looks like a small tank, not a gleaming copper beauty like the one in the catalog photograph.

More than a year ago, Scott told me he had something for me to taste that they had made there. It never materialized. Nothing they have sold to this point was distilled in Iowa. Nothing they have sold to this point was made from any special local recipe. I feel confident in making those statements.

I should be clear that the identification of LDI as the source has never been confirmed, but of the possibilities I've heard about and considered, that one makes the most sense.

Templeton sends out a regular email newsletter. The latest arrived yesterday. It starts with an introduction by their cute blond intern and goes on to detail their many different promotional activities, including an August music festival called Rock & Rye. There isn't one word about anybody making any whiskey.

I know I sound critical of Templeton, and I guess I am, but on the other hand I wish everybody put as much energy and creativity into their marketing as Templeton does. Their marketing has been brilliant.

DowntownD
07-02-2009, 18:43
Yet another reason (for me at least) to despise the supposedly clever marketing practices (read: obfuscation of actual sources and bullshit stories) that many so-called-makers/distilleries engage in.

Rye is my favorite whiskey, and I'd happily add another to my bar if it was good and sans the clever bullshit. As it stands, screw 'em... I will not support such companies unless things change dramatically.

tommyboy38
07-03-2009, 05:22
I agree and it's one of the reasons I love whiskey like Lot B. One of the finest whiskeys in the simplest looking bottle.

Jono
07-03-2009, 18:33
I was in my local Binny's....a very small store by their standards...and it had 4 bottles of Templeton Rye..about $35....I passed this time.

shoshani
07-12-2009, 11:34
I should be clear that the identification of LDI as the source has never been confirmed, but of the possibilities I've heard about and considered, that one makes the most sense.

I just noticed yesterday in re-reading the current Jim Murray's Whisky Bible that he practically SCREAMS LDI in his review of Templetlon:

"Different yet familiar in that the style is unique but painted in a way that is familiar to those of us who know the excellence of a certain distillery which, in my humble opinion, pushes out the best rye whiskey in the world..."

Anyone familiar with Murray's other writings knows that he has long considered Lawrenceburg, Indiana to produce the finest rye whiskey on the face of the earth, and that he lamented the fact that Seagram never bottled it as a straight. (Rye from Lawrenceburg *is* bottled as a straight now, under the Sam Cougar label, sold in Australia at a measly 74 proof.)

cowdery
07-12-2009, 21:22
That's part of the evidence.

jpact
07-14-2009, 20:18
In case you're not a listener, Mark Gillespie's 06/28/09 episode of Whiskycast featured Templeton. At the very end, after the interview, Mark ID'd their distiller as Old Seagrams in Lawrenceburg. Although there is some distilling going on in Templeton, I didn't hear a whole lot of conviction that they are ramping up production to replace the current supplier. Some talk about experimentation and specialty batches, which sounds more like a chemistry lab than an industry. Again, I'll withhold judgement, probably check out what's inthe bottle if given a chance, and check back in 5 years to see what's developed.