What it is
We’ve reviewed our fair share of Smooth Ambler offerings on the site over the years. It’s not a secret that I like what they do with their Old Scout lineup. They’re MGP sourced bourbons and ryes that are well aged and released at varying and interesting proofs. For more on the previous reviews and Smooth Ambler in general, check out our other posts here.
When discussing a private barrel pick, there are a few things to consider. Not all bottles of a particular bourbon will taste the same, as each barrel is essentially a unique expression of that whiskey. So there must be two things happening to produce a good private barrel pick. First, the distiller or producer must have really good barrels of whiskey on hand. That means either they age, select, or buy good distillate with good age (or age it themselves). Second, the retailer or group picking the barrel must have a good sense of taste. This is often out of the retailer’s control, as they can only taste what the producer offers them. So there is a bit of luck on that end as well.
Standard Old Scout bottle.
Butter toffee and brown sugar are the main components here with a slight note of alcohol and hints of light fruits like apricot and peaches.
The first big flavor to hit the palate is oak, which speaks to the 10 years of age. But it is quickly followed by caramel and burnt brown sugar. Adding a small splash water to this high-proof bourbon really helps. It brings out definite notes of cocoa and powdered chocolate on the palate and intensifies the pepper and allspice notes on the finish.
This lingers a bit, creating a long finish with plenty of oak and tannins, but the rye makes an appearance in the form of black pepper spice on the tail end.
If my recent review of Boone County’s Eighteen 33 is an example of how to slightly mishandle this distillate to prevent it from reaching its full potential, this barrel pick is the opposite. This barrel is the right age, released at the barrel proof, and finishes very nicely. Ultimately, this is a fine example of Old Scout bourbon at its best. I’m guessing there aren’t any bottles of this left on the shelf at Old Line, but if there are, I’d be a buyer.
ModernThirst.com score: 89 out of 100.
Old Line SAOS 10 year Bourbon
This barrel is the right age, released at the barrel proof, and finishes very nicely. Ultimately, this is a fine example of Old Scout bourbon at its best. I'm guessing there aren't any bottles of this left on the shelf at Old Line, but if there are, I'd be a buyer.