George Remus was a German-born American lawyer who became one of the most successful bootleggers during the early days of Prohibition. He was known as the “King of the Bootleggers” and his empire reportedly controlled 75% of the illegal liquor trade in the United States.
Born in Berlin, Germany in 1878 he immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 10 years old. He studied pharmacy and law and eventually became a successful lawyer in Chicago. When Prohibition was enacted in 1920, Remus saw an opportunity to make a fortune by bootlegging liquor. He used his connections in the legal community to obtain permits to legally withdraw alcohol from distilleries, which he then sold on the black market.
Remus’s bootlegging operation quickly grew to be one of the largest in the country. He owned warehouses, trucks, and fleets of boats that were used to transport liquor across the country. He also had a network of corrupt officials who helped him to evade the law.
In 1927, Remus was caught and convicted of tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released after serving only one year. Shortly after his release, Remus shot and killed his wife, Imogene. After the murder he walked into a police station and admitted he shot his wife. Despite this, he was acquitted by a jury.
Remus continued to be involved in bootlegging after his acquittal, but his empire began to decline. He was eventually forced out of business by rival bootleggers and by the federal government. He died in poverty in 1952.
Bourbon Review: George Remus
ABV: 47% (94 Proof)
Age: 5-6 Years
Mash Bill: Not Disclosed
Distillery: Ross & Squibb Distillery (aka MGP)
Location: Lawrenceburg, IN (USA)
The Nose: A subtle sweet maple emanates from the glass. Secondary wafts reveal black cherry, brown cigar, oak and rye spice. While there is an abundance of sweetness on the front, the lingering aroma is more balanced.
The Taste: An abundance of rye appears on the first sip and while MGP (more on that later) doesn’t disclose the mash bill it’s pretty obvious this is their high rye recipe. Subsequent sips reveal oak with nuances of vanilla and caramel with a touch of maraschino cherries on this finish.
The Conclusion: MGP which makes a countless amount of bourbon for others bought the rights to George Remus in 2016. Despite being known for being the source of countless brands, the company makes their own bourbon for their own use as well. In 2021, Luxco Distillers which made the bourbon for their own labels was rebranded as Ross & Squibb.
You can call me a bit of a snob, but I find the majority of bourbons to be produced by MGP to be something to steer clear of. When I see something made in Indiana I usually put it back on the shelf or politely decline a pour. With that said, George Remus is proof the company can make a good bourbon. The high rye content might not be for everyone, but is something I recommend worth trying.
Price: $39.99 (750ml in New Hampshire)