- 97.8 Proof
- 15 years
I never did get my hands on the Volstead Reserve that MGP (now Ross & Squibb) had released, its entry in to the super-premium bourbon market. But, I heard some really good things about it. And when I was offered a bottle of Remus Gatsby Reserve, I was really excited . . . and then I saw the price tag. $250 is a hefty price to pay for any whiskey to be sure. And this was one I hadn't tried yet. But, I had the benefit of a recent bonus from work, and I decided to splurge. I was too intrigued by not only the age, but the fact that it was cask strength at only 97.8 proof. So not a heater, but not watered down in any way.
This came in some fancy package with a box that kind of splits open from the top. It's a nice hefty bottle and it came with a solid, really heavy stopper. I normally don't give a shit about packaging, but I tell you all this because, as I was carrying it into my house, I grabbed it by the top of the box, which separated from the base, and the bottle went tumbling, bouncing off a shelf, then my step into my house, and ultimately on to the cement floor of my garage. My stomach sank as this happened! But, the only damage was that the heavy, paperweight of a stopper separated from the cork. While I hate that box, the sturdy bottle held up and prevented what would otherwise have been a costly disaster!!
But, on to the whiskey! Unfortunately for this bottle, my first couple pours were enjoyed with some other, high-end whiskeys, some very good whiskeys, and this one got lost in the shuffle. However, I did make it a point to give this a go on its own, and it really is a damn good bourbon! The nose was full of brown sugar and caramel, rich and sweet. It also had some delicious cherry notes. But the spice was the most interesting part. I got some black pepper that tickled my noes, but also rich clove spice and even root beer notes. The nose was very complex and smelled great!
The flavor really seemed to grab ahold of those root beer notes I was getting on the nose. In fact, the first notes that I jotted down were that it tasted like root beer candy. It reminded me of root beer flavored Dum Dums, and certainly brought back some childhood memories. It also had a bit of a butterscotch note to it, which isn't too far of a divergence from root beer, but nonetheless added to that hard candy sweetness.
As the bottle opened up, and as I enjoyed more pours of this, I found that the sweetness did subside a bit, allowing the spice to shine through much more. I got that black pepper spice, particularly on the finish. But the cloves note seemed to eventually make its way through as well, to the point that by the end it was taking more of a center stage.
There were some oak notes, but only in flavor, never in bitterness. And I found that those oak notes lingered most on the finish, along with a rich caramel note and a bit of that clove spice. Despite the low proof, each sip seemed to really coat my mouth in all of these flavors, and the finish was quite enjoyable!
I still hate the price tag on this (and while I try not to let price factor into my final rating, sometimes you just can't help it). I certainly don't see myself spending that on a similar product in the future. But, this was still a really good whiskey, albeit an expensive one, and I'd certainly urge you to try a pour if you get the chance!