Whiskey fans have come to appreciate, even adore, lots of MGP whiskeys since those early days of the bourbon boom when sourced was a dirty word. Their 95/5 rye whiskey helped turn neat sippers near and far into cocktail drinkers. And as more and more bourbon from the Lawrenceburg, Indiana distillery entered the market behind a cascade of different labels, lots of whiskey drinkers accustomed to sweeter, higher corn bourbons like Jim Beam and Wild Turkey found themselves entranced by the spicier, fruitier profile of MGP’s unusually high rye mash bills. It’s with those particular fans in mind that Ross & Squibb, makers of MGP’s in-house Remus line, are adding to the portfolio with this new expression, Remus Highest Rye.
To call something the “highest” seems questionably self-assured, but it’s hard to argue with the specs on this one. Remus Highest Rye is aged a healthy six years, bottled at a robust proof, and showcases a mash bill made up of a whopping 39% rye plus 10% malted rye, what Ross & Squibb declare is “the most rye a bourbon can offer.” It would certainly seem so, as bourbon has to be 51% corn by law. Let’s check it out.
Despite the big lead-up and a healthy proof, the aroma isn’t overwhelmingly spicy or green. There’s a woody, dusty quality to the nose with soft baking spice and sweet notes of KitKat and fruit cake. The palate is significantly bolder and rye-forward, although still not overdone with a sweet, silky entry of caramel sauce and cocktail cherry that builds steadily in intensity with pepper and spice across the sip, adding Red Hots and pink peppercorn, chili flakes and a bit of fruity Runts candies. By the time the finish arrives, the rye spice is most apparent. Piquant and drying despite the initial sweetness, it lingers with almost effervescent notes of oak and cherry cola.
At first, it took some maneuvering around all that spice to savor the complexity in this bourbon, but it really grew on me. It’s certainly a rye drinker’s bourbon, but MGP fans, and most other bourbon drinkers, will find little to complain about here, especially at the price point.
A- / $55 / rossandsquibb.com