Thursday, February 21, 2008

Templeton Rye President on Native Distillery

TEMPLETON — Templeton Rye Spirits president Scott Bush says the future of this southern Carroll County town can be seen in Lynchburg, Tenn.

While TR Spirits is more of a niche product and Jack Daniels — famously distilled in Lynchburg — is something of a Goliath in the booze business, Bush thinks Templeton can become a destination.

The draw: a rich mix of history, drinking and agriculture.

“We’d like to help turn Templeton into a Lynchburg where the whole town is involved,” Bush said in an interview Wednesday.

TR Spirits is about 70 percent through a major addition to its production and storage facilities in Templeton with a June completion slated. Rye Spirits will see its space jump from 1,500 square feet to just under 12,000 square feet.

The first bottles of the trademarked legal rye whiskey were produced in 2005.

In a fusing of its rich history with a contemporary ambition to break out of a niche as something of an Iowa novelty, Templeton Rye Spirits — the legal incarnation of the Prohibition-era booze — launched its product into the Chicago market with a classy, nostalgic affair last August.

With a growing reputation in bars and liquor stores around the nation, Templeton Rye has the very real potential of pulling tourists to Carroll County, Bush said.

“We have big plans,” he said.

This would include interactive tours in which visitors could select their own grains and other ingredients for a personalized batch of rye whiskey. Having lived in Chicago, New York City and Boston, Bush said he’s convinced well-heeled whiskey lovers, and others with interest, will trek to Templeton for this.

He sees Lynchburg as a model for this plan.

“Lynchburg, Tennessee, isn’t a place you ‘pass through’ on your way to somewhere else,” reads the city’s official Web site. “It is so off the beaten path, it’s either your destination or you are lost. It is a tiny little town in a tiny little county with one BIG industry — JACK DANIELS DISTILLERY.”

With the development of the distillery in Templeton Bush and his rye team are considering more expansion for tourism.

But there is a hitch, Bush said.

Unlike wineries in Iowa, the distillery is not allowed to sell even a limited amount, say a bottle or two, of its rye to tourists.

Bush has mounted a lobbying campaign to change the law to allow for modest “native distillery” sales. He’s posted a video on the subject on YouYube. (See above).

More than 600 people already have watched the video according to YouTube.

“We are looking for the ability to be able to sell a small amount to tourists,” Bush said. “When they come to the facility frankly its embarrassing that we can’t sell one to them.”

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