Prohibition in 1920 led to an underground industry of unregulated liquor. Boot-leggers with very inconsistent product flooded the thirsty speak-easies and blind pigs of the time. Highwood became a lucrative destination with an army base in town and a discerning consumer base at Hotel Moraine. In this cauldron, a superior distiller bubbled to the surface.
Rose Miller seized the opportunity. Soon every gambling den was stocked and every discerning connoisseur was demanding this polished product. They called it “28 Special”, because the batch number always started with a “28”. Because women were generally not involved in such a nefarious business and were further discriminated against in holding positions of power, Rose had male workers stand in for her to broker larger deals.
She rotated her spokesmen, leaving crime bosses, racketeers, and saloon keepers with no idea of who the “bossman” of the storied hooch could be. There were times in which Miller herself was present at raids, and was ushered out by police officers who believed that she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the distiller’s identity remain anonymous, she was eventually nicknamed, “The Debonair,” because of the refined nature of the sought-after spirits.