Templeton’s rye whiskey expressions are no strangers to Drinkhacker. We’ve steadily followed their releases through the years, starting with their 4 year old rye back in 2009 (!) and as recent as early 2022 with their revamped 4, 6 and 10 year ryes. They have had an interesting and somewhat uneven journey in between (replete with some feather-ruffling as noted in 2016), but we’re here today with open palates to visit with the latest release in their Barrel Cask Finished Series, which finishes 6 year aged rye made with a 95% rye/5% malted barley mashbill in “bourbon barrel-aged chocolate coffee stout casks.” The series was introduced in 2019 and previous expressions include the Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish (2021), the Caribbean Rum Cask Finish (2020), and the Maple Cask Finish Series (2019).
The nose here is one of the most “syrupy” that I’ve come across in terms of body, sweetness, and concentration of scents. Notably, I detect dark stewed cherry syrup (akin to what I imagine concentrated cola to be prior to adding water) and Hershey’s chocolate syrup topped off with almond extract to add some woodiness and spice.
The palate is immediately bombarded with a medley of all kinds of roasted, slightly charred, and caramelized holiday fruit, led by stone fruit, prunes, and cherries with a not so shy accent of almonds generously coated in raw bitter cocoa powder. Malt is unmistakable as well. The finish itself dances madly between bitter oak and prunes, and doesn’t stop much in between. After sitting in the glass a while, the viscosity fades to reveal more punchiness in the rye spice as it sits underneath softer touches of plum to replace prune in the lasting fruit notes. The producer’s own tasting notes add in coffee, which my own notes dance closely around.
This may be the most holiday-inspired whiskey I personally have come across (although this may be just coincidental). This would be great to spruce up the whiskey cocktail standards such as Old Fashioneds and Manhattans with the extra body and depth in the sweetness (and, perhaps, obviously, in Irish coffee). It may also be an alternative to whiskey drinkers that generally don’t care for Port or amaretto-style aperitifs, but wouldn’t mind a festive twist to their standard sippers. (In fairness, I can also envision a summertime concoctions here, as a number of unconventional opportunities unfold with this one.)
All in all, this is a fun rye expression to have around for entertaining a mixed crowd of whiskey and non-whiskey drinkers alike, especially if you want to make some of your favorite cocktails bright(er).