And so 84 years ago today the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and National Prohibition, was repealed. All in all, it is a short piece of law. The introduction is longer than the Amendment itself. What it lacked in size, it made up for in consequence. First and foremost, it allowed the Federal Government to get out of the way of a citizen's ability to have a drink. There were, of course, other consequences. The one most pertinent to tonight's post is that it also allowed the murderous scofflaws and bootleggers of the Prohibition era to fade into the sort of romanticized characters of history that only the distance of time can allow. People such as George Remus. A pharmacist, a bootlegger, lawyer and a murderer.
Remus was a pharmacist turned Chicago criminal defense lawyer. In Daniel Okrent's book: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition Remus is described as having an inside look at the workings of Prohibition and the amount of money that could be made outside the law. His plan was rather more complicated than a smash and grab though. He ended up buying both distillery stocks and brands (including brands such as Fleischmann's and Jack Daniel's) as well as a pharmacy where he could sell the stocks as a medicinal product.
He would legally withdraw the bourbon from the bonded warehouse and on the way to his pharmacy, the trucks would sometimes be hijacked. Of course, they were hijacked by his own men. Now, why would he divert the booze into an illegal market when he had the ability to profit from both the sale of the liquor to his pharmacy as well as to the public? Well, that's pretty easy when you think of why he got into it in the first place. The profits are higher on the black market since there are no taxes to be paid on it.
On May 17, 1922, the New York Times published that Remus was charged with conspiring to violate prohibition laws and he and 13 others were sentenced to an Atlanta jail for a year and a day to two years (depending on the defendant). Okrent states that it was a posh cell, decorated with flowers where he was waited on by servants. During his time behind bars, his wife took up with another man and together the two of them burned through the vast fortune that Remus had accumulated (some stories say this was the agent who put Remus behind bars, some say it was an undercover agent in the prison where Remus was serving time who learned of his story and took advantage of the situation).
In either case, the newspaper reports state that his wife's affair drove him temporarily insane. Long enough to have his chauffer chase down the car she was driving in so he could shoot her in front of her daughter from a previous marriage. Of course, even in the initial reports from the trials, there seems to be at least the idea that what really ticked him off was the loss of the money. For this crime, he was committed to an insane asylum for a very short time (somewhere around three weeks) before he then "proved" that he was no longer crazy and was released.
After that, he lived in Cincinnati for the rest of his life and seems to have lived on the correct side of the law as far as I can find. Today, he gets mentioned when people talk about Prohibition but seems to have been otherwise forgotten. Maybe that will change now that MGPi has released their Remus Repeal Reserve to go along with their George Remus Bourbon. It celebrates Remus, though he is probably not the type of person who should have been celebrated, by putting his name in big letters on the top of the bottle. It also celebrates Repeal Day as it accomplishes it's full roll-out today.
The bourbon is 94 proof and is made up of three different MGP bourbons (for once, this isn't sourced since it is put out directly by MGPi). It is 50% Bourbon distilled in 2005 with their 21% rye recipe. It is 15% Bourbon distilled in 2006 from their 36% rye recipe. And it is 35% Bourbon distilled in 2006 with their 21% rye recipe. And it is 100% delicious.
Remus Repeal Reserve
Purchase Info: This bottle was provided as a review sample at no cost to me. It is available locally and I have confirmed that Surdyk's has it for $75. The suggested retail price is $74.99 and it will be sold in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Details: 47% ABV. A blend of 21% and 36% rye bourbons distilled in 2005 and 2006.
Nose: Mint, clove, rye bread, and oak.
Mouth: Dry and spicy in the mouth with cinnamon and clove, rye bread and mint.
Finish: On the long side of medium. Lingering cinnamon with rye spices.