Smooth Ambler, which is based out of Maxwelton, West Virginia, is a relatively new whiskey company. However, despite how new this distiller is they are making waves in the whiskey world. They source most of their whiskey (which is nothing new), but one thing that is new is how transparent they are about their process.
The particular line I am reviewing today is their Old Scout bourbon, (even the name itself indicates that it was scouted from another distillery) MGP to be specific in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. You may be asking yourself how this is different, but this is nothing new in the bourbon world. In fact, there are many other whiskey brands out there that source juice from MGP! However, unlike Smooth Ambler, these whiskey brands do everything in their power to hide where the whiskey is sourced. This is to create the illusion of authenticity.
Smooth Ambler in not only unique in taste but is also completely transparent. It is indirectly advertised as well as pubic information the fact of where Smooth Amber is sourced from AND that they also have a distillery of their own (where they are currently aging their own whiskey, but that is for another time). A recent significant release you may have heard of from Smooth Amber is their Wheated Bourbon. This is actually distilled by Smooth Ambler themselves, not a sourced bourbon. Anyways, enough about their other offerings & history. We are here here to talk about Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon.
Yes, we are already thinking what you are… that is a mouthful of a name! Luckily, it is also a pleasant mouthful of whiskey. This particular barrel is 10 years old with a 115.2 proof. This comes from what I would call a higher rye mash bill: 60% corn 36% rye and 4% malted barley. Smooth Amber does not disclose where their grains are from, but they do acknowledge that it is all Non-GMO. Yet another reason that makes them stands out amongst others (especially with all the controversy around it nowadays). I’ll be honest with you, I personally cannot even begin to tell you the difference between GMO and Non-GMO grains and their affect on whiskey but again it is an added feature. What I do know is whiskey and how to enjoy it.
Immediately after I pour in the glass I notice that it’s much darker than the average whiskey. This is due to it being 10 years in the barrel as well as the higher proof. The legs of the whiskey tend to linger on the sides of the glass and even as you are swirling the glass, the legs don’t seem to fall. First on the nose is the astringency from the alcohol; then right away the pepper and leather from the rye rise up. If you are patient and allow the whiskey time to open up, the taste from the rye changes quite dramatically. It becomes more vanilla spice and softer leather. In my opinion, the palate stays the same. A little harsh at first, but given time it evolves into stone fruit and cinnamon. Don’t get me wrong, while it is still packed full of heat and rye it is very enjoyable. When tasting and discussing bourbons like this, with higher rye content, it is typically not my favorite, but there is something different about this one. The finish is long and teasing with that full taste of pepper and cinnamon with a slight hint of burnt sugar. All in all, it is not my typical pick, but I am very glad I went out of my comfort zone and to have tasted and tried it.