Templeton Rye Founder Discusses Fraud Accusations

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Their product has been a source of Iowa pride for a decade, but now Templeton Rye is facing backlash and a lawsuit as their recipe and brand are being challenged. It’s marketed as a small batch whiskey with Prohibition roots.

But those claims are being challenged in the media and in the courtroom. Now, a class action lawsuit has been filed claiming Templeton Rye intentionally mislead its customers about the recipe and where the whiskey is really distilled.

Keith Kerkhoff from Templeton Rye joined Sonya and Andy during the Channel 13 News at 4 to talk about the issue. Hear what he had to say below.


  • marcopolish

    I bought it because of the marketing. I would NOT have bought it otherwise. That should answer the key question on deception, they intended exactly what happened, sales because of their claim to small batch and being made in Iowa. No accident, it was full intent. Yes I was deceived and bought because of the deception. How difficult is that to comprehend?

  • JstLvng

    if their lawyer said their wording was right than im ok with it. sounds like they were a small business that couldnt make all of it in the state but had the full intentions to eventually. the recipe is IOWAN, so im behind Templeton Rye. Im with what he said in the interview, keep that snobby Chicago no moral lawyer outta Iowa!!

  • JR

    I have had the real stuff, which by the way is still(no pun intended) being produced by a few entrepreneurs in the hollers of Carroll Co. The first thing I noticed with the new product when it came out was that the color was off from the authentic stuff. Taste was different too. End result the same…

    • Randy Graven

      No two bottles of the “authentic stuff” taste the same or have the same color-it’s moonshine, for chrissake! I’m about 15 minutes from where it comes from and been around it all my life. some of it is very smooth because it’s been aged, and some of it is just plain ol’ white lightning. Get real-it brought some business to Carroll County. If you can’t find anything better to gripe about than where the legal stuff is made you’re in a pretty sorry state.

  • Ernest T. Steward

    A year ago, I was at Templeton Rye as a volunteer bottler. During our introduction to the company, first thing in the morning, they flatly stated right out that, due to lack of distilling facilities at the Templeton plant, the product was distilled by a distiller in Indiana to their formula. Also, during a morning break, I stepped outside and talked with a semi tanker driver who said he was delivering 3,400 gallons of Templeton Rye to the bottling plant from Indiana. Although the fact that the product is distilled in Indiana is not shown on their bottles, the executive and staff at Templeton Rye have most certainly not made any secret of the fact.

      • Ernest T. Steward

        I’m no one’s “shill”!!! I volunteered to help bottle that day along with several other people. I spent a very enjoyable day and learned a lot about the bottling process. My payment for this – a lot of good fellowship and conversation, a couple of cans of Coke, a couple of donuts, a shot or two of Templeton Rye at the end of the day and a T shirt. So, stick that in your pike and smoke it, or down a shot of Templeton, Joe’s pinky finger!

      • Robert Trosky

        Ernest: Sounds like a fun day. I hope you took an extra shower at the end of it. You needed it to remove the stench of fraud. May as well drink Jack instead of TR anymore. Save ya 10 bucks in the process too. Seriously, they have volunteers bottling for them and they can’t afford more equipment?? TR is slippin.

    • marcopolish

      Lack of distilling facilities, meaning not distilled in Iowa. You learned that as a volunteer. Why would that NOT be put on the label that tells people what it is and that they are buying what it says it is? Hmmm?

      Or maybe your whole town is crooked, is that what we should conclude? Is that what you are suggesting?

      • lkj1967

        Please do not compare the community to Templeton Rye Distillery. Although the town has known all along where the rye was being made it doesn’t mean they approved of it. Templeton is a great community with great people. The founders of Templeton Rye Distillery are not from Templeton.Also, RevRayGreen…the Vision Iowa grant was for The Templeton Community Center which is a COMMUNITY project not a Templeton Rye project

      • revraygreen (@revraygreen)

        LKJ” the Vision Iowa grant was for The Templeton Community Center which is a COMMUNITY project not a Templeton Rye project”….Fradulent Lie bought an old Catholic School for a song and plan to turn it into place where tourists can get lied to about the whole story behind it. Even Branbully singed off as “The Next Field of Dreams” for western Iowa…Iowa Values my a**…

      • revraygreen (@revraygreen)


        sure may be a “community center” yet Gov. Terry Branstad — who enjoyed some Templeton Rye during a celebration for the community center Saturday night — said the company’s national reputation makes the community a natural for drawing visitors to western Iowa.

        “Obviously, this can become a significant tourism attraction,” Branstad said. “We think of the site where ‘Field of Dreams’ was filmed and the amount of people that go there. I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in this.”

      • revraygreen (@revraygreen)

        Branstad said there’s a bottom-line effect on the state’s economy as well.

        “I want to thank you for this because the state gets a 50 percent mark-up,” Branstad said, referencing the state-regulated sales of liquor. (There’s also a state sales tax of 6 percent and federal excise tax, the latter representing about 8 percent of the actual purchase price of a $25 bottle of whiskey, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.)

  • Rebecca Hergert

    Yep! My husband saw this company’s mistakes too & some hot shot lawyer in Chicago is gonna take this company down!!
    Reminds me of the deceased lawyer we had back home Tom Riley!! He was a ambulance chaser & he was good! And at one time he work with my dad!!

  • Sheena

    Here’s a thought. How about all of you complaining just quit buying the product. That solves that problem. But no, everyone has to throw a fit and sue over something ridiculous. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. End of story.

    • marcopolish

      Thanks Sheena for that thought, yes I am taking your advice and not buying more. But that does not solve the problem of what was sold by fraudulent sales claim on which my purchase was based; hence lawyers being allowed to sue. Just want my money back for when I bought because I was lied to. That’s all, and that’s right. What would you do? Or, what DO you do when you are lied to, reward the liar? No, you do not. Well, if you do, contact me directly and I’ll tell you where to send your money.

    • Robert Trosky

      Its not ridiculous and they should be sued. The problem here is the label is misleading. It just needs to state somewhere that it is distilled in Indiana, that would solve the problem. Beyond that, it isn’t as good a product as it used to be. I noticed the difference in taste before learning anything changed. The first clue was they stopped putting a barrel/batch number on the bottles, second clue was that it doesn’t taste as good. I won’t buy another bottle, not worth the money anymore. Now learning the kind of fraud they’re up to, it pisses me off and I’d like some refund. I don’t care if its the culture of whiskey to lie. I used to be a huge fan of TR, far as I can tell there is no TR anymore. Hugely disappointing.

  • marcopolish

    Price i would pay for authentically produced Templeton: $30.00-35.00. Price I would have paid for no authenticity regular old backyard rye: $5.00. They know it, they knew it, and so does everyone else. Not much of a stretch.

  • jw

    Sets a precedence in Iowa! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! Iowa state attorney is too busy chasing $100 hookers while gangsters skip with the real loot :) Follow the money I always say!

  • Rebecca Hergert

    The public was definitely mis-lead/entice to buy this product.
    My husband, coming from the Amana’s, where winery’s are made, saw right through this company.
    The Des Moines Register/KCCI kept blowing about this whiskey company & evidently this news travel to a Chicago Law Firm & found a mistake!!

  • CF_Duke

    Templeton Rye never hid that the whiskey was distilled in Indiana. Their tours include this fact. It would be completely foolish to spend the millions of dollars up front needed to build a high volume distillery and wait over 4 years for aging to have a finished product with the hope someone will buy it. Their approach is what any good business owner would use. Now that they have a customer base and sufficient sales volume, taking the next step by building a distillery in Iowa makes sense. I think that was their master plan all along. For those that are feeling “deceived”, I find it hard to believe you would repeatedly buy Templeton Rye based on where it was made instead of the quality of the product. Those demanding a refund for the numerous bottles of the Templeton Rye they consumed reminds me of someone demanding a refund for a restaurant meal after eating 3/4 of it by claiming it was bad.

  • JasonE

    I think what is being lost here is that this lawsuit really boils down to the recipe. It’s common in the American whiskey industry for non-blended whiskey brands to be distilled and aged by one company and then bottled and distributed by another. It’s not that different from when companies claim their product is made in the USA even though the parts they are made from are from a different country. Here’s an infographic on where bourbons and rye wiskeys are distilled: http://www.gq.com/images/life/2013/11/bourbon-tree/bourbon-family-tree-large.jpg. A good rule of thumb is that if the bottle doesn’t say explicitly who distilled it, you can pretty much bet it wasn’t the company that bottled it. Go to your local liquor store and see for yourself. As far as calling it a small batch whiskey, this just means that the whiskey blend that is in the bottle came from a relatively small number of casks and has nothing to do with how much whiskey is produced and sold. As far as faithfulness to the original recipe goes, it appears that that people at Templeton Rye Spirits made an earnest effort to get as close to the original recipe and flavor as they could. They always claimed that their recipe was based on the prohibition recipe, not that it was the same recipe.

    • Ernest T. Steward

      I totally agree with your comments. You have summed up the entire situation very accurately and succinctly. I can’t see what all the fuss is about other than some Chicago ambulance chaser trying to make a lot of bucks.

Comments are closed.

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