The Smooth Ambler Old Scout SB review
Company: Smooth Ambler Spirits
Age: 11 years old
Extra Note: Cask No. 9498
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: Unable to confirm 100% but probably around 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley
Price: c. £75
Smooth Ambler Distillery is now 9 years of age and is located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Quoting directly from the website, their ‘notion is to celebrate patient Appalachian craftsmanship, and to put it to good use making truly tasty artisan spirits. Smooth Ambler whiskies are known as much for bold yet balanced flavor as they are for pride of place’. Without actually naming directly their sourced whiskey (as you can probably guess, it is Midwest Grain Products), Smooth Ambler are transparent in their use of these sourced whiskies whilst waiting patiently for father time to pass before their own whiskey was ready for release. They are now releasing their own juice, while still continuing to put out sourced and even a marriage of them both.
The Gents were lucky enough to have been invited to a Smooth Ambler tasting session at the once legendary (but sadly no longer with us) Last Chance Saloon in Nottingham, earlier this year where we were able to taste samples of the range. The highlight was a higher strength version of this reviewed whiskey (where the finish was out of this world), alongside both American Whiskey bottlings (99 and 107 proof), a Rye Single Barrel and Smooth Contradiction, which is a very interesting blend of 2 straight whiskeys, one sourced and one they distil themselves.
We have so far not been able to try (but are quite desperate to) Big Level Bourbon which is a wheated bourbon 100% mashed, distilled, aged, proofed, and bottled at the Smooth Ambler distillery. To be honest, it has received somewhat mixed reviews but the Gents will be more than happy to contribute to the debate.
So now time to find out what we thought about our first ever full review of a Smooth Ambler whiskey!
For this review the Gents were in different locations and choose different glassware. Mav drank from a small Glencairn and Mr Pie drank from a Norlan glass.
What we got – Tons of corn with mint, apple and brown sugar. Mr Pie found it incredibly oaky (which is a good thing in his book). There is very little direct alcohol on the nose even at a very impressive 100+ proof. The nose certainly gets the thumbs up from the Gents
What they say we should get - Honey, brown sugar, buttered corn, menthol, basil leaf and grilled pineapple
What we got – Tobacco up front, a tad harsh and a little fiery on the first couple of sips but softens delightfully as you continue sipping. Spicy nutmeg with cream and chocolate at the back end. Overall probably a little too spicy for Mav
What they say we should get - Tobacco richness, followed by Rolos, almonds and Custard Cream biscuits. A generous helping of cedar and nutmeg, too
What we got – Buttered sweets, super smooth and the chocolate runs through right to the very end. Awesome and a very noteworthy depth of flavour
What they say we should get - Salt tortilla chips, vegetal spice and butterscotch
6 word review from Mr Pie – Nose, tick! Palate, tick! Finish, tick!
There is no doubt whatsoever that this is an exceptional whiskey from our new found friends from West Virginia. Our scores given below make this pretty clear. It has to have been one of our most favourite noses we’ve had the pleasure of sampling this year. Corn, mint, apple, brown sugar and oak, so many adorable aromas nosed in a single glass.
It takes a little time to appreciate the complexities of the palate but there is so much there and the experts conclude with our findings. We are not too concerned that we didn’t pick out the experts finishing notes of salt tortilla chips (not heard this descriptor before), we were however very happy with what we did find in its place.
The average Joe bourbon buyer in the UK would not know too much about Smooth Ambler and their whiskies due to availability and more importantly price.
These whiskies are not cheap and this obviously makes their profile lower than they deserve to be. To be the proud owner of one, you have to part ways with 50 English pounds, which is not always within easy reach of everyone. If you do ever take recommendations from the Gents, then we are in no doubt that these whiskies are worth a punt. We don’t think you will be disappointed! Enjoy.
7 out of 10 - Mav
8 out of 10 – Mr. Pie