By Andrew Graham
If you don’t know what the Remus Repeal Reserve series is, here’s what’s up: MGP is the giant whiskey factory on the border of Kentucky and Indiana that mostly does contract distilling, selling the juice that other whiskey brands (“non-distilling producers”) put their labels on and market. You’ve heard of a lot of brands that either have done or do this: Angel’s Envy, Bulleit Rye, Filibuster, George Dickel Rye, High West, James E. Pepper, Smooth Ambler, Templeton Rye.
It makes a ton of sense for a large contract distiller like MGP to not exclusively do contract distilling, so it rolled out its own brands a few years back, which are what’s bottled and sold under the Ross & Squibb Distillery banner. The short of it is, if it’s made at MGP and isn’t sold to an outside producer, then it’s a Ross & Squibb Distillery product, and Remus and Rossville Union are Ross & Squibb’s two brands.
Adding yet more complexity to this brand flowchart, MGP bought Luxco Spirits, a St. Louis-based distiller and owner of whiskey brands Ezra Brooks, Rebel Yell, Blood Oath, and Yellowstone, as well as, yes, the nail polish remover grain alcohol Everclear, in 2021 for $475m. Luxco seems to still operate as a separate company and, for whatever reason, it oversees the Remus and Rossville Union brands for MGP’s Ross & Squibb.
Anyways. While the standard Remus is a 94-proof product that is very good, it’s fair enough to call the annual Remus Repeal Reserve the label’s “good stuff.” It’s typically made up of a medley of juice on the older side. This year’s release, the brand’s sixth iteration, is made up of five high-rye bourbons. Specifically, 2% of it is a 14-year-old bourbon with a 21% rye mash bill, 17% of it is a 10-year-old bourbon with a 36% rye mash bill, 27% of it is a 10-year-old bourbon with a 21% rye mash bill, 29% of it is an eighth-year-old bourbon with a 21% rye mash bill, and 25% of it is an eight-year-old bourbon with a 36% rye mash bill. The final blend is bottled at 100 proof.
I really enjoyed the Remus Repeal Reserve IV, brought to market in 2020, and this one meets if not exceeds that standard. The nose is a journey on its own, first giving off strong scents of pomegranate and burnt sugar before settling a bit to reveal additional notes of pie crust and molasses and then, boom, there’s some breadiness and chalkiness to the aroma, like a cinnamon roll left beside an open jug of Gatorade powder. All of this happened during about 10 minutes of it sitting in my Glencairn.
The flavors on the palette largely stick to more familiar territory: maraschino cherry, citrus zest, baking spice, and vanilla scone, with notes of milk chocolate guiding it to a medium finish. I didn’t get much oak on either the nose or the palette and that’s completely fine with me here. It’s the kind of bourbon that belongs with (or as) the dessert course at a great restaurant, not as a complement to a cigar by the fire pit.
The Remus Repeal Reserve VI has an MSRP of $100, and I have seen it here and there recently at around that price point.