My wife and I like to take road trips. There is just something about packing up the car and heading out on the open road. It makes us feel alive. The last time we took such a journey was back in March.
I had a work conference in Washington, D.C. My wife decided to come along. We would spend two days driving out, five days in D.C., the weekend in N.Y.C., and take the fourteen hour drive home on Sunday. It was an insane proposition but worth every minute.
Now, the important thing on a ridiculously long road trip is to plan plenty of interesting stops and (at least to me) there is nothing more interesting than a visit to a distillery. So, while planning the trip I searched for distilleries along our route. Unfortunately, there weren’t any along our path.
However, by taking a little detour and adding about an hour to the trip we could swing by the Smooth Ambler Distillery in Maxwelton, West Virginia. After a little convincing my wife agreed to the change in our route and before long we were pulling up to the beautiful red barn nestled alongside a small country road which is home to the fine folks at Smooth Ambler.
It was a great visit. However, they were not operating that day nor were they giving tours and we were too early for a tasting. I did get to ask a bunch of questions and learned a whole lot about their operations.
Smooth Ambler has been distilling for a few years. But, outside of their Yearling Bourbon (which I’ve only seen at the distillery) and Contradiction (their version of bou-rye: essentially their yearling melded with an older, sourced rye whiskey) their only products at this point are sourced. This makes them a NDP (Non-Distiller Producer).
Some NDP’s have given a bad name to whiskey production via lies, shady background stories, etc. Smooth Ambler is not like this at all. They are a very respectable NDP. They are open about where their juice comes from and are about as transparent as possible. Plus, their juice is really good (I can’t wait to try their own product which should be released soon)!
Today, we are looking at their flagship bourbon from their Old Scout (name for their line of sourced bourbon and rye) line. Let’s pop the cork and see what’s inside.
SMOOTH AMBLER OLD SCOUT BOURBON
Distiller: Sourced (MGP – Lawrenceburg, IN)
Owner: Smooth Ambler
Age: 7 Years Old
Bottled Date: 6/19/2014
Mashbill: 60/36/4 (Corn/Rye/Barley)
Classic amber married with a copper penny.
Mint candies. Caramel and vanilla. There is also a subtle cherry note. Citrus rind. As you pull the glass away the nose follows you and presents wet wood and sweet tobacco. All of the notes are a bit thin and muted.
While the nose is light the palate is thicker and packed with flavor. Tons of tobacco, mint, and dark fruits. A little bit of caramel and vanilla mixed throughout. Towards the end there is white pepper and slightly charred oak.
Medium. Driven by spice, pepper, cinnamon, and oak. All of these get enveloped in a subtle amount of sweetness. A little thin like the nose.
The value is pretty darn good. In the current market, a seven year old bourbon at ninety-nine proof with a solid presentation for $40 is a good deal. This is a buy everyday of the week.
This is a solid bourbon. The only knock I really have on this one is it is a bit thin in the nose and finish and the palate is not very creamy. It’s a great product for those looking to explore higher-proof bourbons but are afraid of getting their face melted by the likes of a ECBP. It is also a good, everyday bourbon for the bar of a seasoned bourbon drinker. While I will be exploring their special store offerings going forward I will surely be coming back to this one in the future. Cheers!
88/100 (A Solid Tipple)