Thursday, September 15, 2011

TEMPLETON — Atlantic City, N.J., and Templeton, Iowa, are not two cities that flow consecutively off too many tongues.

But that promises to change.

And perhaps in a big, national way.

The producers of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” have reached out to Templeton Rye for props and facts and general touches of authenticity for the popular series about Atlantic City in the 1920s, when illicit booze and cold cash helped gangster-politician (and don’t reverse the order) Nucky Thompson rule as mayor.

“There’s been talk of them even writing Templeton into the script,” said Templeton Rye Spirits president Scott Bush.

Bush, whose company has had spectacular success leveraging Templeton’s Prohibition Era connection with Chicago, said the Al Capone character in “Boardwalk Empire” is expected to play a much larger role in the season that starts this month. In “Boardwalk Empire’s” staff research Templeton Rye clearly emerged as a product of interest, Bush said.

“They’re very focused on authenticity for the show,” Bush said.

Bush said the season opener centers on a shipment of booze and associated issues.

“We basically said, ‘How can we help you and make us part of the show,’” Bush said.

Besides providing historical assistance, TR Spirits is doing its part to build buzz for “Boardwalk Empire.”

Fans of both the show and whiskey can attend a premiere party on Sunday, Sept. 25. at the 50′ Star Theater at the Science Center of Iowa  in Des Moines. All proceeds will benefit the science center.

 “Templeton Rye is a great Iowa product and SCI looks forward to this partnership to help support all the exhibits and programs that Iowans experience every day at SCI,” said Susan Kloewer, director of development at the Science Center of Iowa.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’ouevres. At 7:30 p.m., the theater will show some Templeton Rye videos as ‘previews.’ Then minutes before the season opener of ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ Bush along with Keith Kerkhoff, master distiller, will welcome the crowd.

“Everyone is so excited about the series this season,” Kerkhoff said. “We have reason to believe Templeton Rye will be making a guest appearance in at least the first couple of episodes.”

Not only was Templeton Capone’s drink of choice, it was also a leading favorite among other citizens during Prohibition. According to a Chicago Tribune article dated Jan. 16, 1933, the renowned Templeton was “second only in popularity to raw alcohol and near beer.”

“We have several videos and documentation linking Capone to Templeton Rye,” Bush said. “It was said to be his drink of choice.”

At the event, Templeton Rye will be served in a cocktail called the Nucky, after “Nucky” Thompson, who is played brilliantly in the show by actor Steve Buscemi.

What is a Nucky cocktail?

“It’s still under development,” Bush said.

Only 60 tickets are available for the event and will be sold for $25 each. To purchase tickets call Kelly Henry at the Science Center of Iowa at (515) 274-6868 x223.

Already, Templeton has gotten into the act for the show with props, which may or may not appear on “Boardwalk Empire” episodes.

Schoeppner Designs Templeton fashioned booze crates emblazoned with “Templeton Rye.” TR Spirits also provided HBO with some vintage-appearing whiskey bottles.

The company is hoping for some golden publicity that even a quick camera pan on the series — which earned 18 Emmy Award nominations — could bring.

“Boardwalk Empire’s” connection plays into Bush’s long-term vision of Templeton Rye serving as a catalyst for business and tourism development around the distillery.

For example, Schoeppner Designs specializes in unique barrel furniture made out of used Templeton Rye Whiskey barrels, custom cabinetry, and new-home construction and remodeling.

The newest line of products at Schoeppner Designs is barrel furniture. The company is located in Templeton next door to the Templeton Rye Whiskey Distillery and has special access to its used barrels, which it turns into pieces of furniture.

“Here’s a business that is thriving basically related to us,” Bush said.

And with HBO in the mix the horizon is brighter for both Templeton Rye and Schoeppner.