Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon

88 Solid

This really gets into the actual flavor of the distillate without being bogged down by charcoal or wood tannins, which is a bit of a deviation from the norm.

Stats:SAOS SBB CLOSEUP LABEL

  • Producer: Smooth Ambler; Maxwelton, WV
  • Distiller: MGP; Lawrenceburg, IN
  • 59.9% ABV (119.8 Proof)
  • Age: 8 years
  • Price Paid: $54
  • Barrel 904
  • Bottled on 9/16/2014
  • Availability: Somewhat Rare

 

What it is:SAOS SBB 2

In an age when it seems whiskey producers do everything they can to obscure the origins of their distillate, and create false and misleading narratives about the source of their whiskey, Smooth Ambler is a refreshing change of pace. While they are distilling many of their own spirits, they also do source whiskey from other producers, namely MGP in Indiana. They are very transparent on the process, which we here at Modern Thirst appreciate greatly. To differentiate between their in-house products and the sourced products, Smooth Ambler labels all the sourced products as “Old Scout.” Thus, this is a sourced whiskey from MGP in Indiana.

This particular bottle is a single barrel cask strength bourbon, aged 8 years.

Packaging:SAOS SBB 3

Standard tall, long-necked whiskey bottle, similar to other Old Scout offerings. This bottle is slightly taller than many other labels, and it does stand out a bit for that reason, hearkening a bit towards the tall, elegant Buffalo trace Antique Collection look. The side label denotes the barrel number, when it was bottled and who actually bottled it.  In this case, it is barrel 904, bottled on 9/16/2014 by “Sarah.”  I must take a moment to note that all of the Smooth Ambler products I’ve seen with the name of the bottler seem to have “Sarah” written in that field.   So either It’s a huge coincidence, or one poor soul is bottling all of their products.  If that’s the case, I hope they have a good benefits package that includes treatment options for carpal tunnel.

SAOS SB bourbon appearanceAppearance:

Deep, velvety brown

Aroma:

A power bomb on the nose. Lots of alcohol, plenty of caramel, maple syrup, and brown sugar with hints of cinnamon and clove.

Taste:

This is a big bourbon. There are plenty of hints of burnt caramel, black pepper, cinnamon, and cumin. There isn’t a great deal of oak or wood on this.

Finish:

Very long, the burnt caramel lingers seemingly forever. There are definitely some issues here with the lack of barrel flavors. This is an eight year old bourbon, yet it has very few distinct oak or wood flavors at all. That’s a trend I’ve found with the bourbon side of the Old Scout lineup, and it’s no different here.

Synopsis:glencairn-amazon

I like this bourbon. Yes, I’m a sucker for anything barrel strength, but it’s more than that. This really gets into the actual flavor of the distillate without being bogged down by charcoal or wood tannins, which is a bit of a deviation from the norm. It’s a nice change of pace. Still, I’d like to see this with either a little more time in the barrel, maybe a 10 or 12 year expression, or perhaps with a heavier char level on the barrels to impart just a bit more of the barrel flavor to it before I rank this up there with the better cask-strength bourbons on the market. The lack of age on the tongue or on the finish leaves it just a touch one dimensional, though still most definitely worth a sip.

ModernThirst.com rating: 88 out of 100 Points

For reviews of other Smooth Ambler Old Scout products, follow this link.


The ModernThirst.com scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.

  1. Appearance: 15 points
  2. Nose: 25 Points
  3. Palate/Taste: 35 Points
  4. Finish: 25 points
  • 95+        Epic
  • 90-94     Excellent, Good representative of its style
  • 85-89     Solid sipper
  • 80-84     Drinkable, but potentially flawed.
  • 75-79     Low quality, flawed, use as a mixer only
  • <75        Rot Gut, avoid
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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for ModernThirst.com. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. Since college, he has dabbled in beer, bourbon, wine tasting, beer making, and currently works in finance. He has also been published on Liquor.com. He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at Bill@ModernThirst.com.

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