Cincinnati-based lawyer-turned-bootlegger George Remus made a name for himself during Prohibition, where he utilized his pharmaceutical expertise to find loopholes in the system, eventually becoming known as the King of the Bootleggers (also reportedly inspiring The Great Gatsby). Decades later, an Indiana distillery took his namesake and started producing high-rye bourbon whiskey the way it was commonly made during and prior to Prohibition. Early American settlers knew how to harvest rye and, even more, make alcohol from it. However, corn became the dominant grain in moonshine after the land in Kentucky proved to be fertile for the crop.
After Prohibition, distilleries transitioned to a higher corn approach to appease the evolving palates of the people, which carries to today. However, brands like George Remus still prefer the more robust flavors and spice offered by a higher rye content, which is why the Indiana-based company specializes in the high-rye style (which typically features more than 20% of rye in the mashbill). Each year, its special-edition Remus Repeal Reserve, housed in a magnificent Deco-inspired bottle, wins awards left and right as it combines barrels from different distillation years to form one magnificent blend, all crafted in the 170-year-old Ross & Squibb Distillery, home of one of the real George Remus’ largest distilleries during Prohibition.
For the brand’s sixth annual release, Series VI, Remus marries five rare batches and also gives out the percentage used of each. It’s made up of 2% of 2008 bourbon (21% rye), 27% of 2012 bourbon (21% rye), 29% of 2014 bourbon (21% rye), 17% of 2012 bourbon (36% rye), and 25% of 2014 bourbon (36% rye). The end result is a profile featuring nutmeg, honey, toffee, fig jam, candied fruit, and a rye spice finish.
The thing about high-rye bourbon is you typically don’t have to break the bank when shelling out for even the best releases. George Remus’ Repeal Reserve is certainly as top-shelf as you can get in this realm, and a 750mL bottle of the upcoming Series VI will sell for a reasonable $100 when it drops this September.