Omahans often stop into the Hy-Vee Supermarket near 51st and Center Streets and ask for Templeton Rye, a popular Iowa whiskey.
“I get quite a few requests for it,” said Mike Shively, the store's wine and spirits manager.
Shively has had to tell people, sorry. It's not available in Nebraska. You have to cross the Missouri River into Iowa for it.
Not any more. Bars and grocery stores in Omaha are anticipating their first shipments of Templeton Rye on Monday morning when the whiskey goes on sale in Nebraska.
“We're very excited about it,” said Scott Bush, 37, president of Templeton Rye Spirits LLC. “We've been wanting to go to Nebraska for a long time.”
The whiskey will be sold statewide, though the company expects it will be easier to find in Nebraska's larger cities.
Templeton Rye is based in the western Iowa town of Templeton, where rye whiskey was produced during Prohibition. Al Capone was said to be involved with the trade.
The company was formed in 2002 by Bush and Keith Kerkhoff, two men whose families made rye in the 1920s and 1930s. The first legal bottle was sold in 2006.
The whiskey ages at least four years in charcoal-lined oak barrels in Templeton. It was initially made in the western Iowa town but is now distilled in Lawrenceburg, Ind., using the Kerkhoff family recipe. The bottling is done in Templeton.
Kerkhoff said Friday that the first batch of 68 barrels proved to be more popular than he and Bush expected. That was great but also led to the whiskey being difficult to find.
They have ramped up production — their latest batch was “thousands” of barrels. (Kerkhoff declined to be more specific.) But it has taken a while to enter the marketplace — due to the four-year-plus aging process.
The company delayed entering Nebraska for years because it wanted to have enough product available to keep up with expected demand.
“We want it available. We want it to be an opportunity for people to purchase year-round,” Kerkhoff said.
The Brix locations in Midtown Crossing and Village Pointe will be selling Templeton Rye.
By the end of the year, Templeton Rye should be available for sale in at least 12 states, Bush said.
It is already available in states such as Illinois and New York, where it was distributed during Prohibition.
“There are a lot of really cool restaurants and bars in Omaha,” he said. “We'll be trying to find any spot that will have a clientele that will appreciate a very high-end rye.”
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