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Sextro Rye offers authentic glimpse into the roaring 1920s

We all know the story. But few have had the chance to really taste it too.

In 1920, Prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcohol across the land. Unhappy with this federal mandate, the self-reliant and fiercely independent folk of Templeton and Carroll County, Iowa, decided to defy that law and began producing their own rye. True to their Midwestern roots, they valued quality first and their moonshine soon gained a reputation as the go-to product during the 1920s.

One of those bootleggers was a couple named Frank and Lorine Sextro.  

"This started a long time ago, about a mile and half west of Templeton, Iowa by Frank “Shorty” and Lorine Sextro. They had five girls and two boys, and to save the farm, feed and clothe their kids, Lorine made the best rye that there was in the surrounding counties,” Rich Eggers with Sextro Rye told us.  

Fast forward 100 years and Sextro Rye, which is cooked and aged at Iowa Legendary Rye’s distillery in Carroll County, is crafted today just the way the Sextro’s used to bootleg it. It’s small batch distilled in Prohibition-era replica 26 gallon stills using local 100 percent rye grain and aged in 15 gallon barrels the same way they used to do it for an authentic historically accurate award winning rye.

"At the height of production, Lorine's rye went to Denver, Kansas City, Chicago, and Omaha.  There's so many stories — I could talk all day — but the history is unbelievable," Whiskey Rich, as he is best known, told us.  

The Sextros were never caught bootlegging. Lorine nearly took her family secret to her grave. Today, her grandson Heath Schneider and the team are continuing that legacy making Sextro Rye the good old fashioned way.   

"We do everything from beginning to end. We're no bullshit. We do everything, and we do it the way she did it 100 years ago," Whiskey Rich said. 

Buried treasure

What’s more, a piece of the story’s history was recently unearthed adding credence to the tales that were told over many years about the rye. 

Legend had it a still and 15 barrels were buried by the Sextros to avoid being caught by the federal government. In 2018, a search was commissioned and specialists with specially trained sniffer dogs were able to locate the buried still a year later.

“This gives us another opportunity to step back in time to Iowa’s Prohibition history,” Sextro Rye’s Heath Schneider said 

Sextro Iowa Legendary Rye still

“I'm not saying new technology isn't awesome, but sometimes the old school stuff — you can't beat it. I mean this is the real shit. This is done exactly the way Lorine made it and it was famous. There is no better," Whiskey Rich explained to us. “It's exactly the way it tasted then, and that's what I'm proud of."

Sign up to RackHouse Whiskey Club to try some Sextro Rye and take a step back in time to a simpler age. 

What’s in the box

Sextro Rye Black Label 

This begins life being distilled in small batches in 26 gallon custom built stills for an authentic historically accurate Prohibition-era taste. It then spends 18 months aging in new 15 gallon barrels. When Grandma Sextro was asked in her 90s why she used such a small barrel, her response was, “Have you ever tried to run from the Feds with a 40 gallon barrel?”

Sextro Rye Red Label

Like other Sextro products, this is made in a historically accurate 26 gallon custom still. It’s then aged in a previously used barrel for eight months and then transferred to a second used barrel for 12 months. The result is an extra level of smoothness usually found in a much more mature spirit.

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