Redemption Rye is one of the whiskey brands that has helped lead the modern rye revival. Launched in 2010, the brand has benefitted from its lower price point and easy mixability, which has helped place it on back bars and cocktail menus across the country. And in an age of dubious whiskey backstories, Redemption has remained forthright about its sourced status. It comes from MGP, the legendary Lawrenceburg, Indiana distillery that produces an estimated 80-85% of the rye on the market.
The brand now includes a bourbon, high-rye bourbon (36% rye), the original rye and barrel-proof bottlings of all three. We recently caught up with Dave Carpenter, master blender, and Joe Riggs, brand ambassador, to talk whiskey, Redemption and what’s next for the brand.
Beverage Dynamics: What’s coming down the pipeline from Redemption?
Joe Riggs: We’ll be expanding production of our wheated whiskey, which we released in limited supplies before. Its currently available in market but very hard to find. We’ll be scaling up production of that product. That’s what’s most exciting for me right now.
Also, expect some more cool barrel finishes to come out. I can’t give exact dates, but can say that fall season would be a good time to look around at whiskey shows for what’s new.
We are also working on an entirely new distilling process that doesn’t require as much aging afterwards to reach mature flavors.
BD: Redemption’s bourbons are younger whiskeys at two-to-three years old. Obviously at MGP you can purchase older juice. Why go with a younger product?
Dave Carpenter: We wouldn’t be adding anything new to whiskey culture if we came out with another four-to-seven year old bourbon. We liked that we could bring in something that was more bright and citrus-forward. And with products like this that are two-to-three years old, we believe that the veil has been lifted on the misconception that older whiskeys are always better.
BD: Even as someone who typically dislikes younger whiskeys, I have to admit that younger products seem to be getting better in recent years.
JR: I think that follows the overall broader awareness now with consumers. They’re better educated now with how to experience whiskey. They understand now that it’s not just all about a big number on a bottle.
DC: And a lot of newer whiskey consumers are looking for something more approachable. They don’t necessarily want their palates beaten to death by a 30-year-old bourbon. They want something more approachable, but that still has character without behind difficult. Not everything needs to be a caramel bomb.
BD: In a time where premium-priced whiskeys are red hot, your base line is around $30. Why aim for that price point?
JR: It’s profitable for bartenders to use in their wells while also being an approachable, every-day whiskey. You can spill some of it without losing your wallet. The goal with Redemption Rye was always to have a bold flavor profile with high enough proof to stand up in a cocktail, but also be good neat or on the rocks.
DC: And you’re able to find it in the market. It’s not stationed behind a glass case behind a register where nobody can buy it.
BD: What’s the intended demo for your barrel-proof products?
DC: Essentially anyone who enjoys concentrated flavors and can get past the ethanol. Anyone who has been tasting whiskey for a long time and enjoys the nuances.
JR: There’s a lot of connoisseurs out there asking for barrel-proof products.
BD: Your brand is open about buying its whiskey from MGP.
JR: I think now when bartenders and consumers know a product is from MGP, they know that the quality is reliable. And with our brand we’re not trying to perpetrate some myth about a lost recipe rediscovered in grandma’s attic. We’re very transparent: this is good whiskey made in this place from these ingredients.
When this brand was co-founded by Dave Schmier, he was adamant that we maintain a level of responsibility by being transparent.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece Interview: Woodford Reserve’s Chris Morris and Elizabeth McCall on Wheat Whiskey, Mint Juleps and More.