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Friday, October 20, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye 8 year old single barrel 971

The plan seemed airtight. I'd save my sample of Thomas H. Handy (2011 edition) rye for a special occasion. And after my second daughter arrived, I knew this was the moment. Then I pulled the sample bottle — poured for me by Florin (a prince) five years ago — from storage, only to discover that 2/3s of the whiskey had evaporated and the remainder was full of swirling murk. I'm an idiot for waiting so long. And yes I'm an idiot for having given it not one, not two, but three sips just to make sure it was really spoiled. It was really spoiled. Moral of the story: DON'T WAIT FIVE YEARS TO CONSUME A SAMPLE.

Now the night was zipping by and I wanted to taste something while my nose and palate were still working, so I grabbed my last Smooth Ambler / MGP single barrel rye sample. It was also from Florin (a prince) but from only 2.5 years ago. That was back in the day when these bottles were selling for 1/5th of their current "value" on the secondary market. But I love full strength MGP rye more than most single malts, so here we go.

Brand: Old Scout
CompanySmooth Ambler
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
RegionMaxwelton, West Virginia (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Age8 years
Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
Retailer: Davidson's
Barrel: 971
Bottled: 11/12/14
Alcohol by Volume60.9%

The nose starts off bourbon-like, thick with vanilla, caramel and cherry syrup. Then apricot and dark chocolate notes arise. Underneath is a floral rye note, and a minor pickle brine thing. And cinnamony churros! A good lack of heat. The palate is more rye-ish. Dark dusty spices, a jar of multicolored peppercorns. Salted caramels and fennel seed. Sweet and tannic with a velvet texture and very little burn. It finishes with honey and black pepper. Sweet lemons, fennel seed and barrel char. Medium length.

Gonna drop it to the standard Old Scout Rye abv:

WITH WATER (~49.5%abv)
The nose becomes more focused. Caramel candies, mandarin oranges, cloves and a hint of flower blossoms. The rye element intensifies in the palate. All vanilla and caramel stuff has been stripped away. It's very spicy and peppery. Hints of citrus and tannins. The finish is all zing. Tangy citrus. Feisty pepper. Curmudgeonly char.

This is an impressively easy drinker considering the considerable (sorry) alcohol content. The rich oak notes in its nose will likely appeal to bourbon fans. Rye enthusiasts will prefer the palate over the nose. That's where the rye lies. It dilutes well too, which is another plus.

Due to all that oak, I think it's a half step back of Willett's similarly aged MGP rye, but it's close enough to provide some similar joys. This was a good buy back when this stuff was $50-$65. And, girl, I'm missing those days.

Availability - Secondary market only
Pricing - allot of munny
Rating - 87

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