Templeton Rye responds to lawsuit allegationsBy Melita Kiely
The owners of Templeton Rye whiskey have responded to allegations the brand’s marketing deceives customers after a third lawsuit was filed against the company.
The third allegation, filed in Polk County, accuses Templeton Rye of deceiving customers by claiming the whiskey is distilled using a “prohibition-era recipe”, focusing on its ties during the era to Chicago bootlegger Al Capone.
However, speaking with The Des Moines Register on Monday, the owners argued they could still claim their product was locally made as they add their own ingredients at their Templeton facility.
“Templeton Rye is very unique,” said co-founder Keith Kerkhoff. “To say it’s a stock whiskey made in Indiana that goes directly into the bottle is totally false. It couldn’t be further from the truth.”
As a result of an admission in an interview with the news site in August during which co-founder Scott Bush and Templeton Rye’s chairman explained the base ingredient in Templeton Rye is a rye whiskey produced by Indiana-based MGP Ingredients, the lawsuits were filed claiming violations of Iowa and Illinois consumer protection laws.
Kerkhoff said the original recipe handed down by his grandfather could not legally have been named a “rye whiskey” because the amount of rye in it was too low.
However, the founders chose to brand an market the whiskey in order to capitalise on the popularity of the illegally distilled rye whiskey made in Templeton during Prohibition, which is popular throughout the US.
“[Templeton Rye] was known in New York City, it was known in San Francisco,” Kerkhoff added. “It had a real rich history. We wanted to stay with the name Templeton Rye…that’s why we had to do what we did.”
He continued to explain that before launching Templeton Rye in 2006, Kerkhoff and Bush provided Louisville Ky-based Clarendon Flavour Engineering two samples, and the Kentucky company recommended some ingredients to achieve the Prohibition flavour they were after.
The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Templeton Rye’s labels, Kerkhoff said, and two audits were completed by the bureau with no mention of concerns about consumer fraud.
The whiskey company is already undergoing work to clarify its labels to provide more information about the brand.