Are you familiar with the infamous George Remus? He gained notoriety as the King of the Bootleggers during the Prohibition era. However, his reputation was not one of kindness. Some might even describe him as a bit of a psycho.
Remus was a criminal defense attorney representing clients involved in bootlegging and murder cases. Despite knowing the illegal activities of his clients, he used his legal expertise to get them acquitted. However, after discovering numerous legal loopholes that allowed bootleggers to escape prosecution, Remus decided to leave his profession and pursue a different path. He eventually became successful and wealthy after making this career change.
Remus discovered a loophole in the Volstead Act, which permitted individuals to procure distilleries and lawfully manufacture medicinal whiskey. By acquiring nearly all of the working distilleries in the greater Cincinnati area, Remus planned for his employees to hijack the whiskeys slated for delivery and sell them on the black market (plus collect on insurance claims).
Well, as luck would have it, George found himself indicted on several thousands of violations of the Volstead Act, and it took very little to convince the jury of his guilt. He was sent to a federal prison in Atlanta.
Don't buy the story just yet; there's more! Remus had a big mouth. He got affable with a fellow prisoner and made a big deal about how his wife had all the assets in her name, so nobody could get it. That fellow prisoner just happened to be undercover agent Franklin Dodge. Oh, Dodge wasn't a saint, either. He resigned from his position and started an affair with Remus' wife. They fell in love and started selling George's assets, leaving him with a mere $100.00 to his name!
Oh, I'm not done yet. Remus was going to court for his divorce proceeding when he staked out his wife's car. He shot her in the stomach. Rumor was she was pregnant with Dodge's child. He was arrested, pled not guilty by reason of insanity, and the jury took less than twenty minutes to deliver its verdict supporting that. And that, my friends, is the story of George Remus.
Ross and Squibb Distillery (formerly MGP) named its flagship Bourbon after Remus.
New for 2023 is something called Remus Highest Rye Straight Bourbon. It will be a permanent, year-round offering with a suggested price of $54.99. But what is it?
It is made from a mash of 51% corn to legally remain a Bourbon. The remainder is 39% rye and 10% malted rye. It rested six years in new, charred oak barrels. Barely legal Bourbon with a huge rye portion isn’t uncommon. They’re all over. But, using malted rye is something you don’t encounter often; usually, the malted part is barley. Remus Highest Rye is packaged at 54.5% ABV (109°).
Before I explore this Bourbon, I must thank Ross and Squibb for providing me a sample of Remus Highest Rye in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see how they did.
Appearance: I sipped this Bourbon neat from my Glencairn glass. The liquid inside was a deep, orange amber. A bold rim released wide, wavy tears.
Nose: The aroma was chock full of cherries, plums, golden raisins, rich caramel, nutmeg, and charred oak. Chocolate and maple syrup rolled across my tongue as I drew the air in through my lips.
Palate: The mouthfeel was thin, oily, and warm. I tasted dried cherries, strawberries, and plums as it crossed the front of my palate. Then came maple syrup and milk chocolate – an interesting combination indeed! The back featured leather, charred oak, and cinnamon Red Hots.
Finish: Cherries came first, followed by flavors of leather, tobacco, chocolate, lots and lots of barrel char, cinnamon, and rye spice. It was long and spicy.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I have always looked forward to each Remus release. I’ve participated in barrel picks and have enjoyed them immensely. There’s something special that Ross and Squibb does to produce its flagship Bourbon.
Yet, something got lost in the translation with Remus Highest Rye. I’ve had malted rye before, but it has always been in Rye whiskeys and never (to my knowledge) a Bourbon. I used an eyedropper to add two drops of distilled water to see if that would change things. When I did that, the aroma exploded with floral rye, vacating many of the other smells I noted. The mouthfeel became creamy, and while you’d think lowering the proof would tone down the spice, it amped things up instead; however, it did add a rounding effect to the finish.
Would Remus Highest Rye appeal to lovers of American Rye? Perhaps. But I’m not sold on it from that perspective, either. My rating is a Bar – you’ll want to try it first at a good whiskey bar or from a friend. Because it isn’t allocated, you aren’t forced to make a split decision to avoid FOMO. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.