TEMPLETON — Kevin Boersma shrugged and cracked a grin of disbelief.

I returned the expression and added a double take for good measure.

“You mean, they’re working for free?” I asked as we watched more than a dozen volunteers help bottle and label and otherwise prepare Templeton Rye’s eagerly awaited Batch 4 for shipment to state regulators and on to retailers like Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Carroll for early December sales.

“It’s mind-boggling really,” said Boersma, Templeton Rye’s distillery manager — whom I later learned was the prom king at Manning High School on the company’s fun-and-fact filled “Templeton Rye Aptitude Test.”

Rye Spirits president and co-founder Scott Bush and his team put the word out in a popular online Templeton Rye newsletter for volunteers to come to this southern Carroll County town to assist with the holiday rush of bottling.

They thought they’d get a trickle of interest. Instead, they’ve been hit with a squall of support.

“Some people came all the way here, put themselves up for two nights in a hotel in Carroll,” Bush said.

So what kind of people volunteer to mass-pour whiskey into bottles? Sad sack rummies jumping from the pages of Dickens novels? Bloat-belly red-facers who would go into a portable toilet at an Iowa State tailgate, find a half-spent can of Milwaukee’s Best, and madly down the dregs?

Hardly.

Templeton Rye has developed an affectionate following of professionals, connoisseurs of the finer things.

About 150 people volunteered to help this business, the legal incarnation of the storied Prohibition-era booze, with the bottling. They’re coming from New Orleans, Minneapolis, Wisconsin, Florida and other points near and far.

Brian Brunk is a consultant for Wells-Fargo Mortgage in Des Moines. But on Monday he was a whiskey bottler in Templeton. For the whole day. And as of about 3:30 p.m., Bunk was far from spent. This isn’t painting Tom Sawyer’s famous fence.

“It’s a great opportunity to help a small-town business get started,” Brunk said as he lined up bottles on a conveyer belt and sent them toward the whiskey spigots. “Three-thousand bottles later I’m still having fun.”

Steve Ahrendsen, a financial planner in Granger with Audubon roots, came as well.

“We thought it would be cool to come check it out,” he said.

Now back to that aptitude test.

What did the priest call Templeton Rye?

A)     The good stuff

B)     Holy water

C)     Cough medicine

D)    Communion juice

You know what they say with the ACT: When in doubt, guess “C.”

And you would be right on this one.

*****

Betting on Obama and winning …

Timothy Egan raises a great point in a much-passed-around piece in The New York Times:

“Suppose you had $100,000 to invest on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated,” Egan writes.  “Why bet on a liberal Democrat? Here’s why … As of election day, Nov. 2, 2010, your $100,000 was worth about $177,000 if invested strictly in the NASDAQ average for the entirety of the Obama administration, and $148,000 if bet on the Standard & Poors 500 major companies. This works out to returns of 77 percent and 48 percent.”