After four acclaimed releases of MGP of Indiana’s Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon, we would imagine that the secret is probably out at this point on the quality of MGP’s own house brand. The creation of the Remus brand made all the sense in the world when it launched a few years ago, considering how many prominent brands were sourcing bourbon from MGP and receiving plaudits in the process. Why shouldn’t the distillery be able to capitalize on the popularity of its own products, after all?
Remus Repeal Reserve, the premium brand in the George Remus lineup, was well-received from the start, being a 100-proof, extra-aged expression that typically combines multiple examples of MGP’s high-rye bourbon recipes. But it’s notable that the series seems to be creeping up in age as it continues, and the response to it has only gotten better and better. Now, as MGP launches its fifth expression of Remus Repeal Reserve, Series V, the brand seems to have taken another big jump forward. Of note: You may see George Remus whiskeys referred to as Luxco brands now, owing to the fact that MGP acquired Kentucky-based Luxco in early 2021, and seems to be using Luxco as its customer-facing entity as a result. The whiskey, however, is all still being distilled and aged at MGP in Indiana.
Remus Repeal Reserve Series V is a bit more complex in its makeup than last year’s Series IV, which was simply a blend of two different 12-year-old bourbon recipes. This one, on the other hand, has five different components, ranging in age from 13 to 16 years, while retaining the same 100 proof that has been a baseline for the series. Perhaps most impressively, despite the significant bump in age statement, the MSRP has risen just a paltry $5, from $85 to $90. That continues to make MGP’s own house brand one of the best pure deals on extra-aged bourbon from Indiana; significantly cheaper than many of the boutique bottlers who sell well-aged MGP juice. Here’s a full breakdown of what’s in Series V.
— 9% 2005 bourbon (21% rye recipe)
— 5% 2005 bourbon (36% rye)
— 19% 2006 bourbon (21% rye)
— 13% 2008 bourbon (21% rye)
— 54% 2008 bourbon (36% rye)
The majority, then, is 13-year-old high-rye whiskey, but there’s still a fairly significant amount of 15 and 16-year-old bourbon in the blend as well. As the company puts it: “Series V exemplifies what our Remus Repeal collection stands for: to showcase the incredible range of medleys and aged reserves we work with in Lawrenceburg. Whether this is your first taste of our Remus Repeal collection or your fifth, Series V represents a particularly special opportunity for us to show you what great bourbon can be.”
Considering that the Series IV was one of our best overall whiskeys of 2020, it’s safe to say I’m excited to taste this one. So let’s get to it.
On the nose, I’m getting some of the same notes I’ve loved in previous Repeal Reserve expressions: Orange citrus, chocolate and candied/glazed nuts, especially peanut and almond. There’s a slight “fudginess” to the chocolate that is quite enjoyable, and also a significant charge of rye spice, along with slight grassiness. Not to be lost in the shuffle is oaky char and caramel candies. Just when I think I’ve got this nose just about sorted out, I also find myself randomly coming across a bright red fruit note that had me thinking raspberry, but it was difficult to then find that note again. This might be one of those bourbons that hits you different each time you raise the glass to your nose.
On the palate, this one is notably spicy, delivering big on its high-rye mash bill with lots of rye spice and pepper, into creamy toffee and citrus. It initially leads off as slightly hot, but that quickly calms on repeated sips, allowing more notes of milk chocolate and rye grass to emerge. With time, it seems to get a bit sweeter and richer, with more confectionery notes of toasted marshmallow coming to the forefront. All in all, wonderfully flavorful, and with enough going on at once to keep it quite engaging.
Given that whiskey geeks will always complain about something, I expect that there are people in the bourbon audience who wish these releases were also at a higher proof, or closer to cask strength, rather than a consistent 100 proof. I think, however, that this desire would be misplaced—these are very expressive, rich and flavorful bourbons at 100 proof, and their high-rye mashbills are quite assertive. Not every “special” release needs to tip the scales at 115 proof or more, and Remus Repeal Reserve is excellent evidence of that. The current 100 proof point works very well for MGP’s pride and joy bourbon, and in my opinion these releases are only getting better as they continue.
Distillery: MGP of Indiana
City: Lawrenceburg, IN
Style: Straight bourbon whiskey
ABV: 50% (100 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $90 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident brown liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.