After prohibition, when the great rye whiskey tradition of the mid-Atlantic died out, Kentucky became the de facto capital of rye whiskey, but rye always played second (or maybe third) fiddle to Bourbon. For decades, rye lovers had only a few choices, all of them afterthoughts from the big Kentucky distilleries: Jim Beam, Old Overholt, Wild Turkey. About ten years ago, rye started making a comeback, but it was still largely Kentucky-based. Brands like Sazerac (from Buffalo Trace) and Rittenhouse (from Brown-Forman) started making waves. Ryes targeting a more upscale market were released by Wild Turkey (Russel's Reserve) and Jim Beam (rī)¹.
But in the last few years, a new and somewhat unlikely state has come into the rye game with a new, kicked up, rye flavor. Suddenly, Indiana rye is all the rage, or as we might call it in LA, Kentucky-adjacent whiskey.
The only whiskey distillery in Indiana is Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (LDI), located right across the Ohio River from Kentucky. Formerly the Seagram's distillery, LDI was acquired by Pernod Ricard when Seagram's broke up and then sold to Angostura (the bitters people).
The interesting thing about LDI is that while they make Bourbon, corn whiskey and rye, as well as gin, they don't bottle any of it under their own label. All of it is sold to independent bottlers or blenders. Therefore, we don't always know when we are drinking LDI whiskey, though we have some clues. (See a list of their products and mashbills here).
Templeton Rye, bottled in Iowa, admits that it uses LDI rye. Cougar Bourbon and rye, an export brand bottled by Foster's for the Australian market, is also bottled by LDI. The speculation is that High West gets its whiskeys from Four Roses, but that the rye was originally distilled at LDI, back when both it and Four Roses were part of the Seagram's empire.
Redemption Rye is a new rye whiskey on the market bottled by Strong Spirits, a bottler located in Bardstown, Kentucky. The whiskey doesn't explicitly say who distilled it, but the bottle states that it was made in Indiana, which means LDI.
The intriguing thing about LDI's rye whiskey is that the mashbill they use is 95% rye and 5% malt, which is an extremely high rye content with no corn, which makes it quite different from the Kentucky ryes. They also make a bourbon with a 99% corn mashbill, but I don't know if it's ever been bottled on its own (as opposed to being blended with other whiskeys.)
Redemption Rye, aged over 2 years, Batch 2, 46% abv ($27).
The nose has lovely, soft, fruity spice notes followed by some herbs and grassy notes. The first thing that strikes me on the palate is that it tastes young; it has that bold, overly herbal/medicinal quality that is typical of young rye. The spice is there, but it's still in a very raw form, though more of it comes out on the finish. This one needs to spend a few more years in the barrel to round it out and take the edge off.
File this one under "has potential but needs work" or maybe, "None but ourselves can age our whiskey."