Marketing 101: Why Did This Iowa Whiskey Turn its Back on Iowa?
First and foremost, I love whiskey, and still love Templeton Rye whiskey even though they did Iowa dirty. It's my grandfather in-laws favorite whiskey (he's a native Iowan). For years, actually. And we'll get into that. First, though, they are making things right, which we'll also cover. So for starters, let's get into why Templeton Rye, a popular Iowa whiskey is no longer made in Iowa.
Truth is, it never truly was an Iowa product
Marketing is everything. Marketing 101: make your product stand out. Walk down a whiskey aisle sometime, it's a crowded place. Whiskey is in. It's popular. And that is unlikely to change for some time. So for a popular Iowa whiskey, you have to stand out. Enter Templeton Rye. The backstory is simple: Templeton Rye whiskey was originally made in Templeton, Iowa, during the dark prohibition period in the U.S. It was made as a way for farmers in the Carroll County area to supplement their income. This is all 100% true according to many reports including the city of Templeton's own. In fact, it was Al Capone's favorite whiskey according to Heavy Table.
So why then did the bottles for the whiskey go from looking like THIS to looking like THIS? Simple, the folks at Templeton Rye weren't being totally honest with consumers. A lawsuit settled in July 2015 forced the company to change up some things you see, the whiskey is actually distilled and aged... in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Gasp! It's also distilled under a brand called Midwest Grain Products of Indiana, which shares the same Templeton Rye recipe with other brands. Oof. It's also very unlikely made in small batches.
The updated story on the back post lawsuit:
So, what has changed in the new labeling? Well, #1, the company can no longer say small batch on its packaging. It now reads small town as you can see on the picture in the link above. Next, Templeton has added the words "distilled in Indiana" since, well, that's the truth. Oh, and the settlement deal also allowed customers who bought Templeton Rye since 2006 to get a refund, but that ship has since sailed.
With the lawsuit ending in 2015 and small changes being made right away, the bottles still looked about the same. Fast forward to 2021, the company completely revamped its look, as shown in the above link. New label. New logo. A new product, right? Doesn't feel very Iowa at all. The new logo is fine, very... official looking. Not so small town-y. It looks polished.
Templeton is coming home
I don't want to dump on the brand too much, because more changes are coming. As we speak The company is actually distilling in Iowa, with the first product to appear in 2022 (it has to age 6 years). A huge and expensive expansion will move the whole operation to Iowa, where it was first created over a century ago. I for one, am excited to purchase and support Templeton Rye once more when they release their truly Iowa product as it was intended.
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