Templeton Rye Whiskey emulates its Prohibition-era recipe. Spirit of York 100% Rye Whisky shows off its Canadian roots…both are gifts of high rye whiskey

High Rye whisky gifts

Recently I was given two gifts, one a gift of history, the other a gift of love. And both were gifts of high rye whiskey, something that I can now appreciate (I remember when rye was a novelty for me…ah, memories…).

Longtime readers know that I love history and family lore. When Gordon’s DTX had a tasting of Templeton Rye a couple of weeks ago, Keith Kerkhoff, Templeton’s co-founder, regaled us with tales of his grandfather’s exploits as a bootlegger and outlaw after Prohibition took effect in 1920. Almost a century later, Templeton Rye strives to reclaim their Prohibition-era tradition of high rye whiskey that was a favorite of Al Capone in his bootlegging days. Both their 4-year-old and 6-year-old expressions have a mash of 95% rye and are aged in new charred white-oak barrels, the goal being to replicate flavors of that original Prohibition-era Kerkhoff family recipe. The distillery recently has expanded its facility, including a new visitor’s center, making Templeton, IA a place to visit.


high rye whiskey, Templeton Rye whiskey, Spirit of York rye whisky
Templeton Rye, aka “The Good Stuff”


Recent readers know that my older daughter just got married (last week’s post was your first clue). Well, the newlyweds went to Toronto for their honeymoon and they brought a bottle of Spirit of York 100% Rye Whisky as a gift. Not only is the expression delicious, the bottle is beautiful as well! This Canadian whisky is what they call one of their “limited edition spirits” (Spirit of York mainly produces vodka and gin), but the happy couple said the distillery is an awesome place. The pictures on the Spirit of York website show a beautiful glass-enclosed column still and an inviting tasting area. Chalk this distillery up to another place I’d like to visit!


On to the tasting notes!


high rye whiskey, Templeton Rye whiskey, Spirit of York rye whisky
Spirit of York distillery’s glassed-enclosed column still…they have nothing to hide! (Photo credit: Spirit of York Distillery)


Templeton Rye

At Gordon’s DTX, August 22, 2018

Templeton Rye 4 yr


  • Nose: brown sugar, caramel, lightly oak, orange peel, almond at the end
  • Taste: soft, subdued sweetness, creamy orange peel, light caraway, muted cinnamon, oily & thick
  • Finish: sweet burnt almond lingers, fades slowly
  • Comments: soft rye that doesn’t smack your taste buds


Templeton 6yr


  • Nose: pineapple, dill, caramel candy, walnuts
  • Taste: sweet, caramel, anise, thick, strong caraway
  • Finish: the caraway holds on almost to menthol
  • Comments: doesn’t burn, but it’s definitely a strong rye


high rye whiskey, Templeton Rye whiskey, Spirit of York rye whisky
Templeton Rye’s lineup…subtly sweet under the spicy rye


Spirit of York

At home, September 12, 2018

100% Rye Whisky


  • Nose: floral, honey, soft rye, vanilla, dried apples
  • Taste: sharp white pepper then rye, a hint of sweet apple cider, nutmeg underneath, medium body, slightly creamy
  • Finish: rye lasts & lasts with a soft sweetness, fades to baking spices & apple cider
  • Comments: all the flavors under the rye give this dram a lot of character; water slightly softens the sharp hit of rye, but it reasserts itself. Excellent!


high rye whiskey, Templeton Rye whiskey, Spirit of York rye whisky
This expression reminded me of autumn with a sweet apple cider flavor under the rye


high rye whiskey, Templeton Rye whiskey, Spirit of York rye whisky
My inner fangirl is showing


High Rye whiskey is an flavor I never thought I’d appreciate. Yet I bought a bottle of the Templeton Rye 4-year-old and had Keith sign it for me (yes, I had a fangirl moment), and I plan to hold onto that bottle after the whiskey is gone (I have a bottle of Laphroaig signed by Simon Brooking as well). That Spirit of York bottle is so elegant, I’ll have to find a way to re-purpose it somehow when it’s empty. After all, it’s a gift!

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!






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