Scott Bush
Scott Bush
March 11, 2014

Templeton

Templeton Rye Spirits is the company that just can't escape history.

And that, say co-founders of the modern - and very legal - southern Carroll County-based distillers of whiskey, is just fine.

Colorful stories abound of the bootlegged booze being hidden around hog operations on Carroll County during Prohibition. Sometimes, in the pell-mell world of the early 20th century whiskey trade, rye jugs would break in storage and hogs would slurp the good stuff to the point of intoxication - which brings smiles to the now elderly kids of farmyard distillers who can remember hogs drunkenly careening around their land.

So it only makes sense that a new venture would bring the whiskey to the hog in the form of The Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project.

If distillers grain from ethanol plants can be used to feed livestock, then, well, why not Templeton Rye mash, the rich byproduct from the whiskey production, reasoned Templeton Rye co-founders Scott Bush and Keith Kerkhoff.

The company's pork project involves raising 25 hogs - of the Duroc breed - on a Woodward farm with a diet that includes Templeton Rye mash. The hogs will be processed this summer and sold to high-end restaurants familiar with Templeton Rye (already a staple of bars in finer eating establishments around the nation).

"Our world closely revolves around the culinary world," Bush said. "We know chefs and watch closely what they are involved in."

Bush said experts in the hog-raising business worked with Templeton Rye on a diet that includes the mash. The goal is twofold: raising pigs with great flavor and tying menu items to Templeton Rye for promotion of the whiskey.

Some of the hogs may be sold or otherwise provided to Templeton Rye enthusiasts with backyard smokers.

"All of us have agricultural backgrounds in the company, and we thought it was a good idea," said Bush, a native of Wall Lake.

Whether this idea from the creative team at Templeton Rye will sizzle into Big Bacon is an open question.

"We think this really is going to be more of a niche product," Bush said.