FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Whiskey Cookers: The Amazing True Story of the Templeton Rye Bootleggers, the award-winning documentary on the history of the famous Prohibition bootleggers from Templeton, Iowa, will receive its television broadcast premiere on WQPT, PBS Quad Cities, on Sunday, May 8 at 9pm. The film will be shown alongside Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary, Prohibition, and be broadcast a second time on Thursday, May 12 at 9pm.
Whiskey Cookers tells the tale of how Templeton, Iowa, a town of 400 German-Catholic immigrants, responded to a series of hostile forces — anti-Germanism during World War I, anti-Catholicism during Iowa’s KKK movement of the 1920s, and finally Prohibition — by banding together to preserve their language and their culture — including the German love of beer, wine and spirits.
The result: a town where everyone was a bootlegger — from the Mayor to the Town Marshall to the village Priest.
The TV broadcast’s timing is no accident: 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of Iowa state Prohibition. Iowa had temperance laws on and off for much of its history; but in 1916, actions by the Iowa legislature instituted strict “bone dry” state Prohibition laws, outlawing alcohol in the Hawkeye state four years before the 18th Amendment and national Prohibition went into effect.
That four year head start helped Templeton, Iowa — population 400 — become the rye whiskey bootlegging capital of America’s heartland.
Whiskey Cookers won Best Documentary at the Iowa Independent and Wild Rose Film Festivals, as well as awards for editing and direction. The soundtrack, featuring Iowa folk artists Foot-Notes, Dwight Lamb, and Alan Murphy, won an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Wild Rose Festival. The film was produced with the generous support of Humanities Iowa and the the City of Templeton. The film focuses exclusively on the Prohibition era, and does not address the modern Templeton Rye Spirits company. It did not receive any financing or cooperation from Templeton Rye Spirits LLC.
The film features rare archival footage, and ground-breaking research, including never-before-seen investigative documents on Templeton's bootleggers from the Prohibition Bureau archives in Washington, DC.
Dan Manatt, Director: “Whiskey Cookers is a rollicking story from Iowa’s past, but it also speaks to America’s present, addressing immigration, xenophobia, religious intolerance, federal authority and overreach, mass incarceration, and gangs and cartels. As Keokuk, Iowa resident, Mark Twain once said, history doesn’t repeat itself — it just rhymes.”
Bryce T. Bauer, producer and writer*: “The Templeton bootlegging story is about Iowa German Americans banding together and responding to anti-German xenophobia — something Scott County’s German Americans knew something about. And many Templetonians came from the Quad Cities. So it’s incredibly appropriate the show is getting its premiere on WQPT — it’s a sort of homecoming.”
J. Douglas Miller, Producer: “The Whiskey Cookers team is thrilled WQPT is giving the documentary its TV premiere. WQPT does a terrific service of showcasing independent documentaries, and we are so grateful to get our broadcast premiere in the Quad Cities.”
Ken Behrens, Mayor of Templeton: “Conjuring up Templeton’s history has been a team effort. It’s been a delight how Dan, Bryce, town historian Elaine Schwaller and the entire town have all worked together to create a much richer portrait of Templeton than we've ever known before.”
Chris Rossi, Executive Director of Humanities Iowa: “Whiskey Cookers is a potent cocktail of the humanities, including history, religion, feminism, law, and philosophy. Humanities Iowa is proud to support Whiskey Cookers, and especially how its extraordinary research has revealed that the Templeton story isn’t just an amusing local legend, but an extraordinarily rich history worthy of study.”
Daniel Okrent, Prohibition Historian, consultant, Ken Burns’ Prohibition**: “I think Templeton was distinctive. Here is this island [of bootleggers] in an area that is largely supportive of Prohibition. The small town in the middle of the midwest — not so common!”
*Bauer also wrote a companion book to the film, Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots, which won the 2015 State Historical Society of Iowa Shambaugh Award for Best Iowa History Book.**Okrent is interviewed in both Whiskey Cookers and Ken Burns’ Prohibition. He is author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.