Jump to content

Pre-Prohibition Rye Signature Flavor


This topic has been inactive for at least 365 days, and is now closed. Please feel free to start a new thread on the subject! 

Recommended Posts

A couple of years ago, I had some pre-prohibition rye at a bar and the taste has stuck with me ever since. I really wonder what gives it this flavor.

I've tried various ryes and none of them have the kind of flavor that really attracted me to this pour. Even though I'm skeptical of the brand, Templeton's Rye was actually the closest. The specific flavor that I am associating with pre-prohibition rye was much much more muted in Templeton's than in the rye that I had sampled. Nevertheless, this must be a common flavor associated with pre-prohibition rye if it made it into Templeton's.

Any ideas on where this comes from?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Clarendon flavoring company is given credit for that. Ask Google about Templeton Rye and lawsuits. :smiley_acbt:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Clarendon flavoring company is given credit for that. Ask Google about Templeton Rye and lawsuits. :smiley_acbt:
Link to post
Share on other sites

Pre Prohibition Rye came in a variety of styles depending on region and distiller. A good many brands were "Pure Rye" which was a blend of ryes from one or more sources so we really can't say there was a definitive flavor profile for Rye whisky from that era. What we today call blended whisky was a bigger deal in years past and the major brands used Rye whisky as a flavoring component along with the GNS. Indeed Canadian blends who use only a small amount of rye in the mix are still referred to as Rye Whisky.

Templeton's claim theirs is a Pre Prohibition style is pure hokum. The closest thing we perhaps have today are the Ryes made by Leupold Bros. and those of Finger Lakes, Tom and Todd are at least trying to do it right.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Templeton is flavored, but there must be some reason they were adding that flavor. Was all pre-prohibition rye flavored or was Templton just trying to shortcut the process?
Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be helpful if you could return to that bar and give us a description of what's written on that Pre-Pro label, brand, etc., some idea of it's provenance, pictures of front and back labels especially.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually did take a photo (see below). I have tried to google the distillery in the past but with limited success.

I do understand that pre-prohibition rye was not flavored and the Templeton is a specious product. My interest was piqued, however, by the fact that the flavoring added to Templeton does actually approximate the distinguishing characteristic of this pre-prohibition rye.

post-12549-14489822415178_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Assuming it's not oxidation :) , I think it's the fact of a relatively young and unrefined whiskey which had, also, a high rye content in the mash. In the ones I've had there is usually a "furniture polish" taste, acetone or cleanser flavour. Sometimes it is wood/waxy, sometimes not too woody and what I call "Blue Cheer" detergent which MGPI stuff has IMO (probably simply it's younger).

In modern ryes, the closest ones to this taste are in the Canadian flavouring whiskies and as mentioned MGPI, but MGPI is quasi-Canadian in distilling approach due to its history. Lot 40 is quite close to some 30's-50's Overholt I've had, for example. This whisky is, I believe, distilled and probably entered at a low proof which enhances the waxy congeners often associated to straight rye. The Texas release of Crown Royal, the single barrel flavouring whisky, is another example. Even Masterson's and that type is. The Canadians aren't concerned to modify that character by long aging in new charred oak or raising the distillation proof to produce a more neutral taste because they use only small amounts of it in the typical bottle of Canadian whisky (just a few percentage points). The release of all-flavouring whisky is a relatively new thing.

Gary Gillman

Link to post
Share on other sites
Assuming it's not oxidation :) , I think it's the fact of a relatively young and unrefined whiskey which had, also, a high rye content in the mash. In the ones I've had there is usually a "furniture polish" taste, acetone or cleanser flavour. Sometimes it is wood/waxy, sometimes not too woody and what I call "Blue Cheer" detergent which MGPI stuff has IMO (probably simply it's younger).

In modern ryes, the closest ones to this taste are in the Canadian flavouring whiskies and as mentioned MGPI, but MGPI is quasi-Canadian in distilling approach due to its history. Lot 40 is quite close to some 30's-50's Overholt I've had, for example. This whisky is, I believe, distilled and probably entered at a low proof which enhances the waxy congeners often associated to straight rye. The Texas release of Crown Royal, the single barrel flavouring whisky, is another example. Even Masterson's and that type is. The Canadians aren't concerned to modify that character by long aging in new charred oak or raising the distillation proof to produce a more neutral taste because they use only small amounts of it in the typical bottle of Canadian whisky (just a few percentage points). The release of all-flavouring whisky is a relatively new thing.

Gary Gillman

Link to post
Share on other sites

Try Lot 40 again,

Thank you for the insightful response.

I don't think its the MGPI flavor that I'm after. I had a few of those ryes and its not it.

I'll have to more carefully consider the Lot 40 next time I have a glass.

Edited by Gillman
Link to post
Share on other sites
Try Lot 40 again,

No problem. Try Lot 40 again, MGPI rye aged 8 years would taste similar I think, in fact I am pretty sure I had a 15 year old rye sourced from there, a merchant bottling, and it had the Pre-Pro taste. What you want is high rye mash, low distillation and entering proof, long aging (6 year plus).

Gary

Do you think VWFRR would fit this taste profile? I've got a couple bottles stashed away that I should open one of these days.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, some of the bottlings definitely do, the ones which are drier and more rye/varsol/sandy-like vs. those which are fruity and rich. (Both great in their own way).

You should certainly drink one of those if you have two, you can't lose..

Gary

Link to post
Share on other sites
ethangsmith

I always get a maple-leather-tobacco-earthy flavor from PA-produced ryes. I've found some of those flavors in the Van Winkle Rye. Oddly, I find some of the maple and earthy flavors in the Rittenhouse Rye (An old PA name, but that's where the similarities with the original stuff stops.). I actually find Old Forester bourbon to be interestingly close in profile to some of the old PA ryes as well, just a bit sweeter.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a bottle of pre-pro rye from the 1890s made in PENN. it actually taste quite nasty but I am afraid to swallow it. So I wonder if most pre ryes were bitter.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, some of the bottlings definitely do, the ones which are drier and more rye/varsol/sandy-like vs. those which are fruity and rich. (Both great in their own way).

You should certainly drink one of those if you have two, you can't lose..

Gary

Ok, well I guess I'll pick a bottle and role the dice. I've got one that is 13-year-old Medley and one that is the 19-year-old Medley/CoK blend.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The only pre-pro rye I've tasted was a Dougherty medicinal 18yo. I did have some bottles of Mt. Vernon Rye 5yo distilled 1936.

The closest I've tasted to the Dougherty was the Vintage 23 rye from a few years back. Both were quite delicious. The Dougherty was an amazing whiskey, probably in the top five for me as favorites go... But it was probably rather unusual being aged 18 years for a medicinal whiskey.

The Mt Vernon was unique with a hint of creosote to it that I guess was some spicy notes from the rye. Very interesting flavor profile.

I don't know of anything currently made that strikes me similar to the Mt Vernon.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
Dad'sHatRye

This is an interesting topic, and one that is hard to sort through. My grandfather actually drank pre-pro PA rye coming from the distillery that was located in my home town - the Gibson Distillery (just outside of Monessen, PA). I have a strong memory of what his favorites (Sam Thompson, for example), post prohibition, smelled and tasted like and that is what we are shooting for in our whiskey. I think one important factor that contributes to the PA Rye signature is malt. Many modern ryes use very little malt if any at all (today purchased enzymes replace what the malt supplies, but they do not bring the flavor). Ryes made in KY use a lot of corn and that adds a different dimension all together. Looking back at old grain bills, they would typically have at least 15% malt (needed to convert the grain in the mash). A typical PA grain bill from the era would be 80 to 85% rye grain and 15 to 20% malt (no corn).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite so, the widely accepted 95% rye from MGP started out with a 80% rye 20% malt mashbill. Commercial enzymes and other cost cutting measures whittled that down to 95/5 but the Seagram lab scientists who developed the whisky believed the 80/20 was best.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a strong memory of what his favorites (Sam Thompson' date=' for example), post prohibition, smelled and tasted like and that is what we are shooting for in our whiskey. I think one important factor that contributes to the PA Rye signature is malt. Many modern ryes use very little malt if any at all (today purchased enzymes replace what the malt supplies, but they do not bring the flavor). [/quote']

Interesting, I'll have to try some the next time I'm in the U.S.

Quite so, the widely accepted 95% rye from MGP started out with a 80% rye 20% malt mashbill. Commercial enzymes and other cost cutting measures whittled that down to 95/5 but the Seagram lab scientists who developed the whisky believed the 80/20 was best.

Isn't 5% malt rather low? I thought that most bourbon/rye was around 10%? This makes sense given that malt is expensive, but still surprising.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, 5% is very low, but with the addition of commercial enzymes no more is needed for the grain conversion from starch to fermentable sugars.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, 5% is very low, but with the addition of commercial enzymes no more is needed for the grain conversion from starch to fermentable sugars.

Ah, the sweet fruits of progress.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
Dad'sHatRye

I have posted this elsewhere, but I think this is a very interesting site and worth spreading to all.

This web site is a database of drawings done in the 19th century by an insurance company in the Philadelphia area. Today, my insurance guy takes a few photos on his cell phone as a record of what is at our site. Back then, they had draftsmen make drawings of various industrial sites - including a bunch of Pre-Pro Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey distilleries. If you search in the product field drop down menu for distillery, it will show a list of drawings of various sites. You can zoom in on details, including the raw materials they used at the site, and lots of other details. Very, very interesting. And if you find one you really like, you can order a digital copy from the Philadelphia Free Library for a very modest fee.

Enjoy

http://www.philageohistory.org/rdic-images/HGS/search.cfm

Link to post
Share on other sites
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.