Whiskey Watch | New spirits pay homage to bootlegging legend

Beer Of The Week

I’ve had a lifetime fascination with bootleggers.

I think it dates back to college, where as a bartender in Tucson, Arizona, I met and served Bill Bonanno, son of the Bonnano crime family patriarch.  That was around the same time I got fascinated by the stories of Jewish gangsters, Arnold Rothstein and Meyer Lansky. Lansky’s legend began in the world of bootlegging, something I found utterly fascinating.

Dare I say, I have a soft spot for the bootleggers.  So when I was invited to preview the limited release of George Remus Repeal Reserve and it’s straight bourbon cousin, I instantly knew who he was, and why it was being released on December 5th, Repeal Day.

Remus is affectionally known as the “King of the Bootleggers.” Remus was a Cincinnati lawyer who created one of the most successful bootlegging operations during Prohibition which dominated America from 1922 to 1933.  Remus owned many of the nation’s largest distilleries and became a multi-millionaire before losing it all. He’s even believed to be the real-life inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic character, Jay Gatsby.

Now, nearly 85 years later, the legend of Remus returns in two new bottles.

George Remus Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the flagship of the Remus label and is now owned by Midwest Grain Products in their historic 170-year-old distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Distilled in Charred American White Oak barrels, this smooth, complex whiskey is sweet with notes of maple and vanilla on the nose and tongue.

“We’re whiskey lovers and are very proud to offer this updated styling of George Remus Bourbon,” says Andrew Mansinne, Vice President of Brands, MGP Ingredients. “This is a complex bourbon whiskey that showcases our signature, high-rye profile and the talent of our distillation team, who have artfully crafted George Remus Bourbon into a beautiful and bold spirit inspired by George Remus’ rebellious and entrepreneurial character.”

How it sipped?
The first time I try a new whiskey, I always try it neat.  I found this one very sippable, smooth on the mouth with just enough spice to make it interesting.  I definitely got the vanilla hints, but it was really just that, a hint.

While I enjoyed it, I think this whiskey is one I’d mix into a cocktail.  And that’s just what I did, trying two fantastic cocktails that were prepared specifically for the Repeal Day event I was attending.

The Brown Derby, created by Matt Sorrell, Cocktails Are Go / Sauce Magazine.
George Remus Straight Bourbon, Grapefruit, Honey

A Reason To Celebrate, Created by Dustin Parres, Gamlin Restaurant Group

George Remus Straight Bourbon, Lemon, simple sugar, Cava.


But the highlight of the night was the debut of the Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon. 

A high rye style that allowed the distillery team to experiment with their various mash bills and reserves of aged bourbon. This limited release is a medley of three mash bills from the years 2005 and 2006. The bourbon is comprised of 50%, 2005 Bourbon (21% Rye); 15%, 2006 Bourbon (36% Rye); and 35%, 2006 Bourbon (21% Rye), bottled at 94 proof.The medley will change each year.

“Remus Repeal Reserve is our most complex release to-date, and you can taste it in the glass,” said Mansinne. “It starts out on the palate with sweet, buttery toffee, and gives way to spicier rye, raisin, and fig, and then comes back full circle.”

How it sipped?
On the nose, you’ll get a bit of sweetness. On the tongue, the sweetness continues with a bit fruitiness underneath.  Gentle spice and smooth disposition makes this a nice sipping whiskey that I’ll enjoy on the couch out on the back porch with a nice cigar.

Aside from the whiskey itself, I found the bottle to be as impressive. Noting the historical tie to Gatsby, the art deco bottle looms large as a fitting reminder of the bold and memorable times that shaped the George Remus legacy.

This bourbon retails for a suggested $74.99 per 750-ml bottle and will be available all over the St. Louis region.

 

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