A Closer Look at Templeton

by Warren Bobrow

Templeton Rye is known as the good stuff and with good reason.  It has all the satisfaction of a good bourbon whiskey but then it has more stuffing in the form of the spices.  This is not to say that anything ill-mannered is added to the formula for making this historic rye whiskey.  I would never infer that at all.  What is apparent on the palate is the full bodied flavor of the good stuff. 

Templeton has quite the history.  It’s always harbored a certain mystique. There were the days during Prohibition when Al Capone took a personal interest in the brand, supplying his Speakeasies with his favorite brand of rye.  I’m sure the stories have been told about a few bottles making their way into his prison cell. 

In the present day, Templeton is reasserting itself as a flavorful alternative to the fire driven barrel strength versions of rye that populate the market.  Bottled at 80 Proof, Templeton doesn’t overpower you with heat.  The flavors of caramelized stone fruits woven around sweet toasty oak are just dotted with explosions of exotic Madagascar Vanilla.  I love the rye notes because their sweet finish reminds me of those perfect sandwiches of corned beef slathered in chopped liver with Russian dressing.  The sweetness of the dressing playing off the smoky savory of the corned beef right into a pool of chopped chicken livers.  This rye is the liquid version of this sandwich.  Try a bottle and see.  I think you’ll be quite surprised and if you live in the NYC area, you’ll seek out a deli that makes corned beef and chopped liver on Pechter’s rye with Russian.  I can think of two, Hobby’s in Newark and Bragman’s also in Newark.

As I said prior, Templeton’s Rye has all the stuffing against other rye whiskies on the market.  I’ve tasted quite a few of them and find the array of flavors exciting to say the least.   Templeton’s is softer than most that I’ve enjoyed.  The water they use must have much to do with this.  The light cinnamon notes from the rye are hidden in the background.  They make themselves apparent on the finish, not on the start.  The first flavors are lightly smoked grains followed by pain grille- smeared with caramelized stone fruits and melted butter.  I can taste the charred barrel enveloping a veritable fist-full of sweet grains and soft water.  This elixir rests for a period of time, inhaling and exhaling the terroir of the place.  There must be some humidity to the air because each sip is juicy in the glass. 

The finish wraps around my mouth like making a pot of air-puffed popcorn, hot from the steamer.  It collides with my teeth and bounces off the roof of my mouth.  It is not harsh in any way.  This rye is very, very soft in the mouth-feel.  It’s as elegant as a glass of Pappy 20.  Pappy?  It sure doesn’t cost like Pappy.  And that’s a plus- because if you want to purchase a bottle I’m sure you can find it.  Pappy on the other hand; forget about finding that! 

The Templeton Rye is a worthy contender for cocktails of any sort.  I prefer to take it with a sprinkle of locally gathered Branch Water over the top, nearly neat.  If you must mix it, please try this New Orleans inspired Manhattan cocktail that I call the Esplanade Avenue Cocktail.

I like to make Templeton into a Manhattan with Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth.  My Manhatten-esque cocktail is created with a wash of Tenneyson Absinthe.  The washing of the glass adds a mysterious depth to the sweet flavors of the rye.  I also add a careful application of the Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Three Chilies for a nice soft burn without too much sugar.  I always finish this drink with a few carefully administered drops of the Bitter End Bitters “Moroccan” variety. 

Ingredients:

  • Templeton Rye Whiskey
  • Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Three Chilies
  • Tenneyson Absinthe
  • Bitter End “Moroccan” Bitters
  • Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth

Preparation:

  • Wash a couple of rocks glasses with Tenneyson Absinthe and iced water
  • To a mixing glass filled ½ with ice add:
  • 4 oz. Templeton Rye
  • 2 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
  • 4 tablespoons of the Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Three Chilies
  • Mix slowly with a bar spoon and with gracious reverence not to bruise the ice but only to release the cold into the drink
  • Pour into your Absinthe washed glasses and
  • Garnish with a flamed orange zest
  • Add 6 drops of the Bitter End Moroccan Bitters (3 drops in each rocks glass at the very end)

Cheers!


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