Distillery: Redemption (sourced from MGP)
Type & Region: Rye, Indiana, USA
Composition: 95% rye, 5% barley
Aged: 10 years
From the company website:
“You’ll know quickly why this 10-year-old rye has earned its place on the shelves of whiskey collectors. Bottled at barrel proof with 95% rye content, it starts with an explosive concentration of flavors followed by a long, mellow, memorable finish. This is a true premium rye whiskey.”
Redemption 10 Year Rye is a double-digit aged-stated and cask strength MGP rye that for some reason still sits on some store shelves in mid-2021. I say that because as I write this review, MGP rye is exploding in popularity and a seemingly endless number of independent bottlers (including Redemption) are filling that demand with primarily 4-9 year old rye (e.g., Sagamore 5-6 year old Sagamore Spirit Barrel Select). Man I miss the “vintage” Smooth Ambler Old Scout Ryes. For now, only a few companies (e.g., WhistlePig and Templeton) still have 10+ year old stock to release. Redemption is pretty well known, so that likely isn’t the reason why the 10 year is still available, especially at a very competitive $100 when 7-9 year old single barrels are just as, if not more, pricey.
At the same time, I think we’re finally reaching an inflection point where more companies are either getting access to older MGP stock / MGP distillate they are aging themselves is starting to reach 10 years old, so I hope to start seeing more 10+ year old MGP rye by early 2022. I’m also curious when MGP will just cut out the middle man and do it themselves (this statement won’t age well) as they are the primarily source for all this older whiskey and already offer Rossville Union, which is 5-6 years old. MGP has to be sitting on so much older stock just waiting to be freed from the barrels. LET ME HELP YOU FREE IT!
I really went off on an MGP rye tangent there, so I’ll refocus now. In this Redemption 10 Year Barrel Proof Rye review, let’s find out if you should relocate this whiskey from the store shelf to your personal whiskey shelf.
Redemption 10 Year rye has dark and rich caramel, licorice and fennel, guava, dill, grilled candied pineapple, maraschino cherry, angostura bitters, vanilla, white sugar, and a little dried orange. It’s quite dark and oaky, but not so much in a burnt way, and the heat has a solid punch that calms with a little more time. The darkness and sweetness are uncommon for rye, especially when so much out there right now is <8 years old. It’s not so bright and tropical like 5-8 year old MGP ryes. The extra age enhances the richness and ryeness, so it’s not for everyone. It’ll hit the spot if you like MGP rye though.
Swirling pushes out even more fragrant rye-ness that’s darker honey, tons of licorice and fennel, then grilled and candied pineapple, lychee, roasted oak, rosemary, and dried cherries. It all comes together into this overall darker personality, which I don’t find that often, with a simmering heat that is always there. At the same time, I keep thinking that Redemption 10 Year rye is kind of one-dimensional. It’s excels at being very herbal and earthy, but the narrow focus limits its potential.
Dense dark honey, licorice, fennel, dill, and rosemary lead the charge followed by roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, peach, preserved candied apple, and lychee. There is a slight dryness that’s part dry oak and dried ginseng, and the oak surges a little towards the middle and back but isn’t overbearing. Overall, Redemption 10 Year Rye has darker flavors than most other MGP ryes I’ve had, a product of its age. It also heavily focuses on those MGP herbal and earthy notes, so it’s not so complex but is still very flavorful with what it does have.
With “chewing” I taste dark and dense honey, licorice, fennel, dill, and rosemary, then vanilla, oak, grilled pineapple, lychee, cinnamon, clove, and just a little peach and rose. The heat continues to be well-controlled but can bite a little at times. For 10 years old, this isn’t so wood spicy, more focused on the rye herbalness and earthiness with supporting fruitiness and spice. Redemption 10 Year Rye is unabashedly herbal and earthy, even for an MGP rye. It tastes great to me because I like that, but it’s probably disgusting if you don’t already like rye.
The finish has an interesting mix of lychee, oak tannins, fennel, candied pineapple, cinnamon, rosemary, and slightly bitter and drying coffee grounds. It’s lychee-forward at first, turning into a gentle earthiness. After “chewing” it’s a little more oaky and earthy, but still has prevalent lychee and pineapple with the stronger rosemary, dill, anise, and fennel. It’s a tasty fruity, earthy, herbal, and oaky finish that becomes more drying with each sip.
Redemption 10 Year Rye is the embodiment of an older MGP rye with cranked up low-end across everything because of its age. It’s intensely sweet, herbal, earthy, and medicinal, supported by fruit and oak, making it a powerful and unapologetic super high-rye whiskey that you’re either going to love or hate. It’s a rye tidal wave (rye-dal wave?) that I personally enjoy, although at the same time I probably wouldn’t drink it all the time. I have to be in the right mood for all those herbal and earthy traits.
For some reason (maybe it was intentional), this Redemption 10 Year Rye over-indexes on the herbal and earthy traits, providing a somewhat one-dimensional experience that could have been more. Don’t get me wrong, Redemption 10 Year Rye is an outstanding rye whiskey and worthy of its “Top Shelf” rating, but there’s still missed potential that comes from a 10 year old and cask strength rye. Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 1, an 11 year old Kentucky rye, is outrageously outstanding at a similar age and ABV (55.3%), although different origins (Kentucky vs Indiana) don’t make this an exact comparison. Back to the point – If you like MGP rye and are willing to pay around $100, then Redemption 10 Year Rye is a great option and I recommend that you buy it while you still have the chance. If you don’t like rye, this won’t change your mind and you can skip it.