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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Autumn Whiskies: Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 year old Rye, batch 39

Spring has sprung.  That means it's time for me to write about my Autumn Whiskies: one Old Scout Rye, one indie Ardmore, and two indie Clynelishes.  I'll review them in the order of expected post complexity: from easiest to hardest.

First, up the rye.  As you may know, Smooth Ambler is a West Virginia-based spirits company that has until recently bottled only whiskies produced at Midwest Grain Products WonderFactory™.  Like a few other new companies, they did the NDP (non-distiller producer) approach while their own distillery was being built.  Now they are distilling, so now they're bottling their own stuff, MGP stuff, and their stuff blended with MGP stuff.  For instance, their Old Scout line will continue to be MGP whiskey probably until their own bourbon and rye gets old enough.  Though I have heard stirrings that the rye batches were temporarily(?) discontinued.  If you know more about this than the usual rumors, please let me know.  (After I'd written this post, I found out the rumors are true, this rye has been discontinued for the time being.  Crap.)

I've haven't had a bad Old Scout yet: two single barrel bourbons, one K&L exclusive bourbon, and three of the rye batches.  Click here for some of those reviews.  My Autumn bottle was of the 7yo rye, batch 39.  It was a good drinker.  My wife and I enjoyed it, but I got the last drop.

Oh, my beard was so tiny at that time. Adorbs!
Brand: Old Scout
BottlerSmooth Ambler
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Age7 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionMaxwelton, West Virginia (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
Batch: 39
Bottled: 6/9/14 (by Nathan)
Alcohol by Volume49.5%

I'll keep these notes short and sweet because this one hits the target every time.

The nose has some nice dark fruitiness, like black cherry syrup.  Rye bread at the periphery.  Cloves, nutmeg, and carob in the middle, then smaller notes of oak pulp, clover honey, and lemon zest.  After 20 minutes in the glass, the whiskey picks up some barrel char, mint, and caramel.  The black cherries become maraschino red cherries.

The palate is very creamy, full of vanilla extract and spice cake.  Corn chips (though there's no corn in this).  Gingerbread, heavy on the ginger.  With that time in the glass, notes of black pepper and rye bread show up.  A little bit of lemon, a pinch of salt, and a hint of umami underneath.

More ginger in the finish, along with the nose's black cherry syrup.  Some tannins and citrus tang on the tongue.  Vanilla bean and soft rumbling heat.

This was such a reliable rye.  I know these Old Scouts are getting tougher to find, but if you locate batch 39, know that you won't be disappointed.  That is, of course, only true if you like MGP rye.  Smooth Ambler set the ABV at a good point so that it's very drinkable neat.  Its price is/was very reasonable for a 7 year old MGP rye, especially since other companies (specifically Redemption) are selling 7yo batches for twice the price, though all of 10 degrees higher in ABV.

Availability -
Many batches are still being sold by specialty liquor retailers, but they're getting harder to find

Pricing - $40-$55
Rating - 87  (this batch only)