Rye used to be a prominent grain used in American whiskeys. For hundreds of years, rye matched or outpaced corn as the predominant grain used in the production of whiskey. That’s even with bourbon requiring at least 51% corn in its mash bill. However, rye was unable to recover from the effects of prohibition.
Corn production skyrocketed and soldiers coming home from war had begun to appreciate spirits made across the Atlantic. Rye whiskey distilleries didn’t even have the chance to reopen before other spirits were off and running. Combine this with the cheaper costs of corn and rye whiskey was in trouble. Redemption Whiskey is trying to bring rye whiskey back to its original heights, though.
Over just the last couple years we’ve seen a huge growth in rye whiskey and high-rye bourbon. One example is Bulleit Bourbon, a high-rye bourbon that topped the charts in 2021 sales through Drizzly. Another example is Redemption Whiskey. They produce rye-forward whiskeys inspired by pre-prohibition recipes.
While Redemption Whiskey produces many different whiskeys, we are going to focus on their three standard whiskeys: Redemption Rye, Redemption Bourbon, Redemption High Rye Bourbon.
Redemption Whiskey History
Redemption Whiskey has a very short history. They were founded in 2011 by Bardstown Barrel Selection who was purchased by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in 2015. While Deutsch is headquartered in the north east, Redemption Whiskey is sourced out of the Midwest. Their whiskey is actually distilled by MGP in the Lawrenceburg Distillery.
While the history of MGP and their distillery is quite storied, Redemption Whiskey is focused on bring rye and rye-forward whiskeys to the forefront of the market. So, let’s get into their 3 classic selections.
Before we get into the specifics of the whiskey, let’s just discuss some of the awards and accomplishments of Redemption Rye. In 2020, Redemption Rye scored 96 out of 100 possible points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. In 2021 they were voted Rye brand of the year at the New York International Spirits Competition.
We certainly don’t judge our taste off of scores and awards, but it shows you two things. First, whiskey judges like it, and second, it’s marketed very well. As a fan of rye whiskey, I certainly agree.
Redemption Rye Mash Bill
To be considered a rye whiskey, the mash bill must contain at least 51% rye. Redemption Rye goes well above that. Their mash bill is listed at 95% rye and 5% malted barley.
Such a high rye content shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s a common mash bill for rye whiskey, they are trying to bring rye to the forefront of the industry, and they have a high rye bourbon. Redemption Rye is aged an average of 2.5 years and comes in at 92 proof, or 46% ABV.
Redemption Rye Tasting Notes & Price
Nose: Toasted oak, spice, citrus and caramel.
Palate: Initially a tad bit thin and fiery. Rye spice and anise smooth out into sweet citrus and vanilla.
Finish: Long and has a little bite that isn’t uncommon with a rye whiskey. Oak and citrus finish it out with a heavier kick of dill than expected.
Price: Redemption Rye can usually be found at $25 and up to 30 at more expensive locations. 750 ml.
* We source the low range of our prices from Total Wine. They operate in most states and typically have the lowest prices.
Redemption Rye Summary
There’s not much to rave about, but nothing to complain about either. Redemption Rye is a mid-tier whiskey and it’s priced that way. It’s a bit young and thin, but at $25 that’s fairly normal. If it spent a little longer barreled, I think it would be awesome.
Ultimately, I’d give Redemption Rye a B- or a B, 3 out of 5. If it were a little thicker or richer, it’d be a perfect rye whiskey. At $25, it’s definitely worth a purchase every now and then.
Redemption Whiskey has 3 main selections – Redemption Rye, Redemption Bourbon, and Redemption High Rye. You would think since they already have a rye and a high rye, they might tame down the rye in their regular bourbon? Nope. This bourbon scored 95 points at the 2021 New York International Spirits Competition.
Redemption Bourbon has been aged an average of 2.5 years and comes in at 84 proof, or 42% ABV.
Redemption Bourbon Mash Bill
As I alluded to, Redemption Bourbon still has a fairly high rye content. It comes in at 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. While there is no standard for what is considered a high rye bourbon, people generally say 20% and up. While they could market this as a high rye bourbon, they choose not to. They make it abundantly clear they are a rye forward brand, so 21% just doesn’t count as ‘high rye’ to them.
Redemption Bourbon Tasting Notes & Price
Nose: Heavy vanilla and caramel. Still some spice and oak on the nose as well.
Palate: Toffee, spices and nuts. Still a tad thin.
Finish: Mild. Light black pepper, cinnamon, fades into caramel.
Price: A 750ml bottle of Redemption Bourbon is $25 and up to $30.
Redemption Bourbon Summary
Similar to Redemption Rye, this bourbon sits on the thin side. For a $25 bottle that’s okay, but I wish it were a tad thicker. I was surprised by the spices I tasted with this bourbon. Yes, 21% rye is still a lot of rye for a bourbon, but I expected more citrus and caramel flavors that I found in the Rye.
Again, overall a very solid option at $25. More novice drinkers may appreciate this one more. At 42% it’s more tame than the rye. I prefer to drink this in a chilled glass instead of ice.
Redemption High Rye Bourbon
My plan was to save the best for last, and I think I did just that. I am a tad biased though. High rye bourbon is probably my favorite whiskey to drink, and I went in wanting to like this whiskey. Luckily, I did. In 2020 and 2021, Redemption High Rye Bourbon scored 96 and 94 points at the New York International Spirits Competition.
Redemption High Rye Bourbon Mash Bill
Redemption Whiskey is meant to be rye forward, so it’s no surprise their high rye bourbon comes in at 36% rye. The rest of the mash bill is 60% corn and 4% malted barley. Redemption High Rye Bourbon is aged 2.5 years on average and comes in at 92 proof, or 46% ABV.
Redemption High Rye Bourbon Taste & Price
Nose: Oak, vanilla, dried fruit. Fairly aromatic smell when you let it rest for a minute.
Palate: A tad thin. Licorice, black pepper, oak, mint, vanilla.
Finish: Medium to long, vanilla fades to pepper and licorice.
Price: A 750ml of Redemption High Rye Bourbon costs $25 and up to $30.
Redemption High Rye Bourbon Summary
This is very similar to the other ones, I just find it to be smoother and most flavorful – or at least aromatic. As a high rye bourbon, it had just the amount of spice and sweetness I like. Just like the other classic Redemption Whiskey selections, it was too thin to say I love it.
At $25 I will continue to buy Redemption High Rye Bourbon here and there. It’s good enough to drink neat or on the rocks and has enough flavor to taste in a mixed drink.
Redemption Whiskey Summary
The 3 classic Redemption Whiskey selections are decent. They’re solid. Every single one of them is good enough neat or on the rocks. I think drinking these whiskeys in a chilled glass is the way to go as ice will just water it down and make it more thin. An extra 2-4 years would turn Redemption Whiskey into my favorite. However, at $25 for a bottle I will continue to drink it. It won’t be my go-to, but I certainly won’t avoid it.
Redemption Whiskey also offers a 9 year barrel proof bourbon and a 10 year barrel proof rye and high rye bourbon. After drinking their classical selection, aged 2.5 years on average, I can’t wait to give their aged selection a try. I’ll surely write a review on those when that time comes around. (They also have a Wheated Bourbon, if you prefer wheat!)
Ultimately, I’m a fan of of rye whiskey, so I absolutely love what Redemption Whiskey is trying to accomplish. Do I wish I liked them more? Yes, but they are a solid group of whiskeys that is expanding the market for rye whiskey and high rye bourbon.