March 7, 2013

TEMPLETON - Old Market, meet "The Good Stuff."

Templeton Rye Spirits, the legal incarnation of Carroll County's infamous bootlegged whiskey, entered the Nebraska market last week to a response something along the lines of the repeal of Prohibition itself.

The Templeton-based distiller sent an initial shipment to Nebraska of 400 cases - 2,400 fifths of the whiskey. Much of it ended up in Omaha and Lincoln markets, said TR Spirits co-founder and executive vice president Keith Kerkhoff.

Kerkhoff said the rye sold in a day. More has been shipped.

"The news got out that we were coming there," Kerkhoff said.

The result: a frenzy similar to some of rye's earlier days in Iowa when supplies were scarce.

In recent years, Rye has boosted production. Outlets in Iowa, such as Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Carroll, appear to have consistent and ample stocks now, allowing Templeton Rye to be more aggressive in breaking into new markets.

"We always had Nebraska on the radar but we didn't have the whiskey," Kerkhoff said.

The whiskey will be available in the full state, but there are key entertainment hot spots, like the trendy Old Market area of Omaha, with a generous selection of bars and restaurants.

Rye is now being sold in the following states: Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, New York, California, Nevada, Colorado and Texas.

Kerkhoff said that in the next year TR Spirits will be eyeing the Southeast and Southwest. The company may even cast its lot in whiskey-rich Kentucky - home of Woodford Reserve, a boutique liquor Templeton Rye has cited as a business model.

"Kentucky, I think they are on the radar," Kerkhoff said.

On Wednesday, both Kerkhoff and TR Spirits president Scott Bush were promoting their whiskey in California.

Templeton Rye management hit Chicago and New York and San Francisco early on in its existence to build national brand credibility.