Behind the Distillery Door

Building a Brand distillery

MGP Ingredients in Lawrenceburg, Ind., gives access

to its proud Midwestern provenance and its new signature spirits.

By Stef Schwalb

You’ve heard the term Midwestern values, and at MGP Ingredients, the team takes it to heart. Here in America’s Heartland, the family owned organization – a top distiller with operations in Atchison, Kan., (primarily for white spirits) and Lawrenceburg, Ind. (for brown) – has a long history immersed in specialty wheat products and starches developed for use in a vast range of food and beverages.

Although some media and consumers obsess over which craft spirits companies are MGP clients and collaborators, what was truly intriguing on a recent tour of the facility is how far the company has come – as well as where it’s headed next.

The natural progression from perfecting the art of distillation through years of practice with its clients, to the development of its own brand, is an evolution that seems obvious if you think about it. According to Andy Mansinne, MGP’s vice president of brands, now is the right time for the company to step directly into the industry and push forward the company’s own portfolio of premium products.

The first white spirit crafted by MGP’s expert distillers for MGP is TILL American Wheat Vodka; the first brown spirit is George Remus Bourbon. Thematically, both are based on stories that are driven (and derived) from provenance and authenticity – company principles that Mansinne says are brand-centric.

Released in 2016, TILL is produced from Kansas wheat that is locally grown and sourced from the region’s best farms. For refinement, it is then distilled via a proprietary process by the Atchison team. This process has been perfected over 75 years, and the crisp, smooth taste was developed to showcase the highest quality of Midwest craftsmanship.

Ideal on its own and as part of a cocktail, the packaging pays homage to the Heartland theme of “pride distilled” with a striking, signature Midwest farm and fields. If you consider TILL a little bit country, the two types of George Remus Bourbon is the rock and roll.

George Remus Bourbon

Named after the legendary, rebellious, and entrepreneurial “King of the Bootleggers” (who was the apparent inspiration for Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby), this bourbon is produced by MGP Ingredients at its historic Lawrenceburg distillery, which at 170 years old is one of the oldest and most iconic spirits facilities in the U.S. Aged over four years, George Remus Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a high-rye blend of bourbon whiskies that was released in June 2017.

Build a Brand RemusThe complex profile features a hint of vanilla, a maple aroma and a rye flavor that is simultaneously sweet and characteristic – yet still rich and bold enough to live up to its namesake. MGP acquired the label in November 2016 from Cincinnati-based Queen City Whiskey Co. and has been steadily building on the brand’s reputation in Kentucky and Ohio.

Remus Repeal Reserve, which was available in limited release on George Remus’ birthday (Nov. 17, 2017), was fully released by Dec. 5 to commemorate the anniversary of Prohibition Repeal Day. The annual, limited-edition release, which will change in medley each year, is one of MGP Distillery’s highest rye releases and is produced from its oldest reserves.

The first series was crafted from three different mash bills of 2005/2006 Reserve Bourbons. It is made up of 50% 2005 Bourbon (21% Rye); 15% 2006 Bourbon (36% Rye); and 35% 2006 Bourbon (21% Rye) and is bottled at 94 proof. This nuanced, smooth spirit showcases layers of complexity that are derived from the MGP distillery team’s expertise, and a singular maturity from the years of fine barrel aging. Hints of honeyed sweetness and buttery toffee lead its smooth taste, which is followed up with some spice and dried fruit flavors, which circles back and layers the palate. Astutely described by Mansinne, it does so in a way that’s similar to wine based on the mingling and blending of the bourbons together. It’s packaged in distinctive art deco bottle, bound to be a collectible for true enthusiasts.

Mansinne says that MGP Ingredients is “in it for the long haul and aims to make its portfolio work in concert with its customers and sourcing.” The company also plans to experiment more with wood in the future for its own products, as well as their clients and collaborators.

TILL Vodka is currently available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin with a suggested retail price of $24.99 for a 750-ml bottle. George Remus Bourbon is currently available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. The Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a suggested retail price of $44.99 per 750-ml bottle; Remus Repeal Reserve is priced around $74.99 per 750-ml bottle. Minnesota, Arizona, Illinois, and Colorado are among the new markets the company has announced expanding to just this year.

A born and bred New Yorker, Stef Schwalb's love of everything culinary knows no bounds. She has written about food and beverages for several years, covering everything from how to make goat cheese to pairing oysters and Chablis. Schwalb is the senior content manager at Gregory White PR where she writes about enticing food and wine experiences at restaurants, bars & lounges, wineries and wine regions across the globe.


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