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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

NOT Single Malt Report: Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 year old Rye, barrel #849 for K&L Wines

If you're new to American whiskies, here's the scoop with this rye.  Smooth Ambler is a whiskey company based in West Virginia.  Though they're distilling their own spirit right now -- and bottling some of it -- they started their business by bottling rye and bourbon that was actually distilled by Midwest Grain Products (MGP) in Indiana.  This was their "Old Scout" brand.  Their MGP rye was a 7 year old, released in batches assembled from a number of barrels, and bottled at 49.5%abv.  Occasionally they also released barrel proof single barrels of rye (and bourbon).  And sometimes they sold those barrels exclusively through specific retailers.  From what I've read, they've started to run short on all those rye barrels.  In the meantime, they're focusing on releasing their own whiskey.

The rye whiskey I'm reviewing today (7 years old, barrel 849) was one of the MGP single barrels that was sold only through one retailer, in this case K&L Wine Merchants.  I foolishly(?) missed out on securing one of K&L's single Old Scout rye barrels, but luckily Whisky Man Florin did not.  So, many thanks to Florin for this sample.

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
Retailer: K&L Wine Merchants
Barrel: 849
Alcohol by Volume61.7%

For comparison purposes, I tried this rye side-by-side with the SCN rye from yesterday's review.  No water was applied to either.

There's gentler oak and much less ethyl on the nose of this rye compared to that of the SCN rye.  It starts with caramel sauce and salty air.  Then cinnamon and loads of whole cloves.  With time in the glass, the whiskey develops sizable notes of vanilla fudge and cream soda.

Entirely drinkable at this ABV.  The palate starts off peppery and briney, but also has a good dose of brown sugar and snickerdoodle cookies.  Some spearmint leaves too.  A nice bitter bite around the edges, with mulled wine in the middle.  It develops a little bit of a fizzy bitter lemon note after a while.

Caramel, brown sugar, and spearmint in the finish.  A bit more of a spicy zing with time.  And then molasses.  The mint leaves soon turn to mint candy.

It's as if this isn't even remotely related to yesterday's whiskey.  I wouldn't say this Old Scout is very complex, nor markedly better than the former regular 7yo release, but it's reliable as heck.  Could set your watch to it, as the old saying goes.  Even with all the alcohol and years of oak, it isn't a palate wrecker like the SCN.  Thank goodness.  If you have a bottle of barrel 849 in your stash, there's no need to hoard it for eternity.  Bust it out the next time you want some fulfilling big rye.  Meanwhile, the rest of us will be without.  :(  Enjoy!

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $54.99
Rating - 87

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