Oct 14, 2014

Keith Kerkhoff’s Message To Customers – A Customer’s Response

Last week Keith Kerkhoff, the co-founder of Templeton Rye, put...

Templeton LIe Whiskey

Last week Keith Kerkhoff, the co-founder of Templeton Rye, put out a video where he was supposedly going to set the record straight… and then failed miserably. While watching the video I couldn’t help but feel even more pissed off that he would go through this level of effort just to continue obfuscating the issues and evade some of the real burning questions out there.

In his video (which I’ve included in it’s entirety in the video below) he tries to placate us with a slew of nonsense, meaningless answers and horrifically flawed analogies. I went to that video really hoping to see a truly apologetic and contrite Keith who really wanted nothing more than to set the record straight. Instead I was greeted with half hearted smiles and a robotic line delivery that, to me, came across as more like a kid being told he has to apologize for punching his little brother, but you can tell he doesn’t really mean it.

The whole thing felt forced, rehearsed and unnatural; a mish-mash regurgitation of everything he’s said in other interviews, but twisted slightly so that he doesn’t look quite so bad. I didn’t feel like there was one real moment in that entire video and without further adieu, here’s my response to “Keith Kerkoff Responds to Customers”. Hope you enjoy.

Keith, if by some minute chance you end up reading this let me give you some advice. As someone who has been in the Digital / Social Marketing field for almost 9 years and has dealt with their fair share of brand crises, I’m going to tell you the two things you need to do to calm the unruly masses. Stop and apologize.

Stop all of this backpedaling and half-hearted video response tomfoolery. Stop trying to make it sound like your lies (outright, implied or of omission) weren’t a big deal. Stop saying you’ve never tried to hide anything when we all know you have. Instead of awkwardly wielding some obviously misleading analogies, attempting to call Clarendon something it’s not and misdirecting your audiences attention just try to say something real. Something like this:

“I’m sorry for trying to mislead you all. Our whiskey is NOT a prohibition era recipe, but it was inspired by one. We buy our whiskey from MGP and then we add flavoring chemicals to it so that it tastes like my Grandfather’s whiskey. We had to add the flavoring to get the taste right because what was called Templeton Rye couldn’t actually be called Rye by today’s standards. I’m very sorry for everything that has happened and I hope that our loyal customers will stay by us after the rebranding of Templeton Whiskey. A modern rye whiskey that was inspired by the bootleggers and moonshiners of Templeton, IA.”

Heck Keith, I don’t even care if you use that verbatim. It’s all yours. Though you’ll notice I said Templeton Whiskey and not Templeton Rye. I think you owe the people of Templeton and the history of the town at least that much. You’ve exploited their name and history for your own gain long enough. You’ve used the tale as a smoke screen to your activities so you could sell a historically inaccurate product with a lie printed in red on it for years and so I feel like it’s only fair that you give it back to them now that the truth is out.

There is no good way to segue that last paragraph into this next one so I’m just going to call out the terrible transition and take a second to explain something a little more.

In the video I said that rye whiskey can have flavoring in it and still be called rye whiskey. Which is true unless it’s a straight whiskey. Straight whiskey can NOT have any flavoring in it. There is also a whole lot more to it that has to do with the flavoring being essential, customarily used, and some other things which make the flavoring a big issue for Templeton, but that’s an entire post all on it’s own. It’s also a post I don’t want to write, but If you want to find out more about it Mr. Chuck Cowdery has a nice write up about it on his blog and I recommend you check it out.

Thanks for watching, thanks for reading and Cheers!


The old / original  Templeton slogan.

The old / original Templeton slogan.

Current Templeton Slogan

Current Templeton Slogan

P.S. Looking for a little more fun? Templeton’s site now glowingly talks about MGP, which it didn’t before, just look at the internet archive for their old site (below) and compare it to all of the suddenly forthcoming information that’s on their site now. It also now says “Based on the prohibition era Kerkhoff recipe” instead of “Prohibition era recipe Templeton Rye whiskey” like it did before. But, that’s still not completely accurate. Based, no. Inspired by, yes.

Funny how as soon as they’re called out on it all kinds of changes started happening… very very interesting. Where was that care for honesty and transparency before? If it had been there from the beginning absolutely none of this would be happening. Also, the older landing pages of the site say “Produced from the original Prohibition era recipe and aged in charred new oak barrels, Templeton Rye provides a smooth finish and a clean getaway.” vs what it says now which is “Based on the original Prohibition era recipe and aged in charred new oak barrels Templeton Rye provides a smooth finish and a clean getaway.”

August 29th 2014 Web Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20140829061514/http://www.templetonrye.com/home/ (October 6th archive shows the new layout)
Current Version: http://www.templetonrye.com/production/

…never tried to mislead anyone huh?

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tagged whiskey, keith kerkhoff, liars, rye, templeton, video