I write about Templeton Rye frequently. Whenever I do, someone asks me why I pick on them. I don't, but I write about them frequently because their president, Scott Bush, does such a good job of working his brand. Every time I see a promotion he's done or a story he's placed I'm prompted to write something.
Today it's a travel story, of all things, about the tiny Western Iowa town that Templeton Rye has claimed as its Lynchburg. I saw it in the Tribune.
The hook for Templeton is a local legend that the town was a major producer of illegal spirit during Prohibition. Writer Josh Noel went looking for Templeton's whiskey, legal and illegal, past and present. Here is what he found.
In recent years, Bush has talked more openly about who makes the only Templeton Rye you can buy in stores, as he did with me last Friday at WhiskeyFest. As Noel reports, "The stuff in bottles is contracted out to Lawrenceburg Distillers in southeast Indiana, which at 28 million gallons of spirits produced per year is anything but the quaint Iowa image the Templeton brand is meant to evoke. The whiskey is trucked to Templeton, offloaded at the plant and bottled there. A staff of gray-haired locals does the rest: hand-writing the labels, affixing them to bottles and sealing the bottles shut. At least in that way the operation is very quaint, very small town and very Iowa."
I asked Bush if he has been able to do business with Lawrenceburg recently. Its parent company, CL Financial of Trinidad and Tobago, was hit hard by the financial industry meltdown and its U.S. operations, like Lawrenceburg, have been reeling. Bush admitted it has been hard to get their attention lately and he is having some supply problems. Some of that is attributable to the brand's success, but Bush knows no businessperson can afford to disappoint customers who are ready to buy.
Templeton is only available in Iowa and Illinois, which is another reason I write about it. In Chicago, I see it everywhere.
Bush is a busy guy. In addition to running Templeton he is on the new Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Craft Distiller Advisory Council, which has its first big round of Washington meetings starting tomorrow.