I’m not a huge social media user (one look at the official Thirty One Whiskey instagram page would certainly be a dead giveaway of that), but I do find it helpful in keeping up with what’s happening in the world of whiskey. And it is this IG scrolling that I have to thank for today’s whiskey discovery: a new company called Remington Revival, based in my own home base of central Texas — and, lucky for us, they just released their first aged whiskey.
Remington Family Distillers is actually run by the Remington family — although not that Remington family. This is a slightly different Remington family than the famous firearm-related brand. In 2014, cousins Peter Knight Remington and Mark Remington Koelsch decided they wanted to build a brand dedicated to producing quality liquor, and thus they founded the Remington Family Distillers just outside Austin, Texas.
Despite being called “Remington Family Distillers,” it doesn’t look like the family actually did any distilling work on this whiskey. The label only claims that this whiskey was “bottled by” the Remington Family Distillery and makes no claims about the production of the spirit within.
According to the label, this whiskey starts out life as a “neutral grain spirit.” Think: Everclear. Most likely this is a mass produced distillate that they truck in from somewhere else. That lack of specificity on the source grains (and some other process inconsistencies) means that, while this may be out of the running to be called a “bourbon”, it may still meet the “whiskey” classification.
Once produced, the spirit is placed into charred oak barrels for a period of at least two years.
Where does all this process take place? Is this a situation where the distillery is importing spirits and then aging them on-site themselves? Or do they get finished product in the door, and just bottle and ship it? Well, we don’t really know. The label seems to be purposefully unclear on that point. It does say “handcrafted” with Texas as the origin, though, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they actually aged it and blended the final result themselves.
This bottle is very similar to the Blackened Whiskey we reviewed not too long ago — albeit with some changes. The bottle is slimmer and taller, with a shorter neck to compensate. But the bottle is still an interesting, almost industrial-looking cylinder with a sharp shoulder that’s capped off with a wood and cork stopper.
I appreciate the simplicity of the label. I like the white text on a black background, and I think it works well here. The label itself also is just the right size — big enough to be visible and legible, yet small enough that the whiskey in the bottle shines through and takes its place as the real star of the show.
As you’d expect from something that started as a neutral grain spirit, the first aroma that comes off the glass is industrial alcohol. Think rubbing alcohol but without the bitterant — almost like vodka. But the good news is that, not only is it relatively inoffensive, it dissipates quickly and allows some of the other aromas to take over. What’s left is a good caramel and vanilla scent, pretty much the standard “just came out of a typical bourbon barrel” aromas.
The liquid has a surprising weight to it for a 43.5% ABV spirit, much more velvety and viscous in the mouth than you’d expect. In fact, its almost like a liqueur — which isn’t a bad thing at all, just surprising.
As for the actual flavors, this is pretty spot on for a surprisingly delicious whiskey. There are the sweet caramel flavors mixed with vanilla that make it taste like a Werthers Original, and on the aftertaste there’s just a hint of tannin and charring from the oak barrels to provide a touch of depth.
There isn’t much complexity here, but there also isn’t anything really that bad either. There’s no real bitterness or unpleasant aspects, just the usual whiskey flavors with a good bit of saturation.
Adding in a bit of ice usually tends to knock the lighter flavors out of the whiskey while also toning down the other darker aspects. For bad spirits, this can be a godsend. For delicate spirits, though, this can be a death sentence.
In this case, there are some mixed results. The nicely balanced caramel and vanilla flavors have gone off the rails just a little bit, and what I’m getting now is a little closer to some black licorice and cinnamon. I think it’s the vanilla that gave up the ghost, and a lack of sweetness takes things in a bit of a darker direction.
Still, not terrible. Not the most balanced sipping experience I’ve ever had, but there’s something here that’s flavorful at least.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
Personally, I usually prefer a darker and richer version of an old fashioned. And, thanks to the flavor changes that came with the added ice, that’s pretty much what I get here.
There’s some good flavor mixing with the angostura bitters and the black licorice aspects, and it’s definitely a “dark smoky speakeasy” kind of vibe coming from the drink. The issue is that, with the ice, all of the sweetness from the whiskey also disappeared. So it takes a little bit extra sugar added to the mixture to balance out that tartness.
Usually, this is something that the corn content in a bourbon would have solved. However, because this came from a “neutral grain spirit” there isn’t that same safety net. Not necessarily a deal killer, but certainly something to account for in your mixture when using it.
This might be the downfall of the whiskey right here.
Normally, there are two things I look for in a Kentucky mule: firstly, that the whiskey balances nicely with the ginger beer; secondly, that it adds something unique to the flavor profile. I think this is a partial success on the first item, but a complete miss on the second.
While the ginger beer certainly isn’t as “shouty” as it would be alone, it isn’t in balance. That black licorice flavor fights the good fight in trying to tone it down and mellow things out, but there just isn’t enough sweetness in the alcohol or the flavors to really do a good job.
As for the uniqueness, usually this is something that a little bit of rye content helps with — rye content tends to generate a kick of black pepper spice. I don’t really see that coming through here, which makes sense given the source of this was that “neutral grain spirit.”
It isn’t awful, it just isn’t the best I’ve ever had.
To be completely honest, it’s impressive how much flavor they were able to put into a neutral grain spirit. I’ve tried that process on my own at home before and it’s tough to get the right flavors into the liquid. In this case, I do want to commend them for their efforts and for making a solid middle-of-the-road whiskey from almost completely tasteless spirits.
That said, I’ve got a couple bones to pick here. Calling something “handcrafted” when the whiskey itself was mass produced elsewhere seems to be a bit of a bait-and-switch on the public, especially with the current craft distillery craze. I’m cool with the process if you make it clear that’s what is going on, but the label is selling a craft distillery story that isn’t supported by the facts.
Stating “Remington Family Distillers” on the front as the Distillery and then noting on the back in fine print that they only actually bottled it… well, that’s not being especially honest with the customers.
Produced By: RemingtonOwned By: Remington Family Distillers
Production Location: Texas, United States
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 43.5% ABV
Price: $35.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 2/5
A fine middle-of-the-road whiskey that tries to hide its mass produced heritage.