Templeton Rye Whiskey & an Epic Road Trip

It could have been a typical Saturday in Kansas City. A couple errands, maybe get the yard mowed, take a nap, cook a good dinner and watch some tube.

But no.

A couple months ago, the Deliberate Obfuscator made reservations for four to tour the Templeton Rye distillery. We’ve toured scores of breweries, dozens of wineries, but only one other distillery in our thirty three and a half years of shared adventures, and it seemed like a good choice for a road trip. We talked Ancillary Adams into driving, his charming Ancillary Spouse into navigating, and Priceline tossed 2 rooms in West Des Moines into the deal.

A side note on Des Moines. Des Moines is awesome. They have a fantastic German bar that makes you think you are in Munich, a great British bar that reminds me of my semester in Bath, and a reportedly great Belgian bar that I wasn’t able to visit because of great visits to Munich and Bath. The downtown is vibrant, and there are fun restaurants in the suburbs.

But work delayed my departure, so we left KC too late to visit the night life of Des Moines. Instead, we visited the Toot Toot Family Restaurant on the way, and lucked into a live performance of Steve and Lyndell Fuller of the Dixie Union Band. Great music, plus all-you-can-eat T-bone steaks, the best buffet fried chicken I’ve ever had, green beans like you dream about, fried everything (shrimp, clams, corn fritters, hush puppies, etc.) salad bar, and on and on for $12.99. The trip was off to a memorable, if unhealthy, start.

But onto Templeton, Iowa in the morning. The tour starts at 10 (or at least it would have if they had not waited for Ancillary Adams to finish reading in the bathroom) and lasts for around 45 minutes. You get to watch a great video (visit the Templeton Youtube channel for several great videos), see the equipment, and hear some stories from one of the founders, Keith Kerkhoff. Here’s a hint – if you’re taking the tour, ask questions, and get Keith off track. He does a perfectly acceptable canned speech, but he’s delightful when he launches into anecdotes about the people and history of the place. You’ll learn more, and he’ll have more fun, and you want to be around Keith Kerkhoff when he’s having fun – he’s just one of those guys.

So the tour was fine, and we bought our share of t-shirts and caps. We got a tiny sample of the AMAZING whiskey. The whiskey was flavorful and spicy – truly great stuff.

(They don’t sell the whiskey at the distillery, but, fortunately, a local guy showed up and sold us a bottle out of his trunk for a fair price. Bring cash, though – we weren’t able to buy as much as we would have liked because we lacked currency.)

That should have been it. We were going to hop in the car, swing through Des Moines and have a lunch, and head for home. It would have been a perfectly delightful trip had it gone that way.

But the Deliberate Obfuscator decided it would be neat to get the bottles autographed by Keith and the others who make this great whiskey, and that’s where things got a little nuts. A young couple from the tour was seated at the bar, and the sample glasses were getting refilled. And the conversation was flowing. And jokes were being told. A party was beginning. Boulevard Beer showed up, as did Bud Light. Uncut corn whiskey appeared. Upstream Brewing came out in the form of several unmarked bottles, and I got to try several beers from Great River Brewery, and they were the Best Beers I’ve ever tasted from a can (and that includes the wonderful efforts from Oskar Blues). Firearms were included. Promises of homemade grenadine were made. Heaven help us, a party was raging.

Soon, we needed food – the tour had started at 10, the samples had started flowing at 11, and it was early afternoon. And bowling seemed like a good idea, too. So off it was to Manning, Iowa’s L&M Bowl, which is rumored to be among the best in the region for generating 300 games. I had a Gutter Buster Burger, which was not quite a Dead Texan, but hit the spot and filled it. I didn’t bowl a 300 game, but I would have totaled 300 if I had managed a 98 in a hypothetical third game.

Thanks to Ancillary Adams’ generous willingness to sharply limit his enjoyment of great whiskey and beer, we finally left the party in the late afternoon, and rambled back toward home on the dirt road detours of southwestern Iowa, and dinner came in the form of a shockingly enjoyable, nostalgia-filled Pizza Hut in Shenandoah, Iowa. Many, many hours later, and countless rounds of Celebrity Name Game later, we made it home.

It could have been a typical Saturday in Kansas City. A couple errands, maybe get the yard mowed, take a nap, cook a good dinner and watch some tube.

2 Responses to “Templeton Rye Whiskey & an Epic Road Trip”

  1. les says:

    So, recovered?

  2. [...] Why Facebook can be such a good thing – Several months ago, we went to Templeton, Iowa to tour the Templeton Rye distillery. With our friends, we drove up Friday night and then got to the distillery at for the 10:00 tour on [...]

Leave a Reply