The Templeton Rye Pork Project: Does the pork taste like whiskey?

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Whiskey & Pork. An Iowa distillery is finding out if they can combine the two with their very own experiment.

In May 2014, WQAD introduced viewers to the Templeton Rye Pork Project. The Templeton Team fed 25 pigs with feed that incorporated dry distillers grain.  Their goal:  To make pork that tasted like Templeton Rye.

At the end of June 2014, the distillery held a tasting at Mullet's in Des Moines, Iowa for friends and fans to try the first pig. With the help of Lynch Livestock from Waucoma, Iowa, dozens of people got to see if the pig experiment worked.

Keith Kerkhoff, one of the  co-founders of the Templeton Rye Distillery, was one of the first in line for the taste test. He says the quality of the meat is excellent.

"(But,) to be real honest; Can I taste any of the dry distillers grain? I'd probably say no, but it's quite a project for us."

Others agreed.

"The pork itself tastes really good," said Nicki Spoerl, who has helped the distillery bottle twice. "I think [the project]  is kind of neat. [Iowa] is known for pork and booze, so they might as well combine the two."

"It's delicious meat," added Dustin Lewellyn, who says he's been a fan of Templeton Rye since the 2006 release. "I can't say that I can tell anything special with the diet, but it's a cool story and it's a pretty good pig."

Even though the pig didn't taste like Templeton Rye, Kerkhoff and his partner, Scott Bush, say they're not disappointed.

"The bigger picture is we're promoting Templeton Rye," said Kerkhoff. "We're trying to keep our name in front of the public and we have to have different ways of doing that."

"We're whiskey makers. We're not pig farmers," said Bush. "I don't see this ever being much more than kind of an interesting side project that we do."

"We really want Templeton to be one of the first small-batch whiskeys to become a legitimate national brand - somewhat similar to Sam Adams in the beer world," added Bush.

Bush and Kerkhoff say the project was also about promoting Iowa, which is the nation's leader in pork production and pork exports - an industry that contributes $5 billion to the state's economy every year. The pigs were raised on a farm in Woodward, the distillery is in Templeton, Lynch Livestock is based in Waucoma and the tasting party took place in Des Moines, Iowa.

"We kind of have a soft spot for Iowa - being our home state and our first market - so, we like to do stuff like this in this state," said Bush. "We think people really appreciate it."

The tasting was held for friends, fans, and members of Templeton Rye's Bootleggers Society. To join, click here. To learn more about Templeton Rye, click here. To learn more about the pork project, click here.