While a touch pricey, this rye is a rare 7 year old and has one of the highest rye contents on the market.
Notes: This is a relatively new micro distillery in West Virginia. So new that while they want to produce their own rye it will still not be ready for a few more years while it ages. So while that is going on they wanted to have a rye in their portfolio in the interim and so in a very refreshing spirit of honesty they offer up this rye as one that has been “Scouted” by them as a worthy stand in while their stocks mature.
This as I said, is unusual – there are a lot of distilleries and even more rectifiers and bottlers that like to buy bulk whiskey and somehow strongly infer they made it or somehow had a hand in its production. Smooth Ambler is to be commended on their honesty – and their taste in what they did pick out to sell to their customers while they wait.
Their other products include: Whitewater Vodka (which uses a bourbon mash bill (to give it more complexity/depth) and Greenbrier (an American dry gin) a barrel aged version of their gin, and an excellent bourbon ( also a handpicked stand in , see above) . They are also planning a brandy release which we have not yet reviewed.
Appearance: Deep red gold amber, old copper/bronze in the bottle, Baltic amber in the glass. Nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whiskey. On swirling, nice oily coat with scattered legs and droplets developing.
First Impression: Rye spiciness, leather, toffee, allspice, malt, dried dark fruits with notes of eucalyptus, persimmon and nice char,
Taste: Heavy rye grain body, nice firm texture and mouth feel. There is a spicy sourness with an underlying sweetness that makes for a nice overall rye signature with a touch of sweetness after the rye wallop it delivers. Clean spicy finish.
Drinks: If you want to make a faithful recreation of bygone cocktails, especially those hailing from Prohibition, this one fits the bill nicely. Rye is, of course, the proper whiskey for a Manhattan. Bourbon was later substituted as rye was on the brink of extinction for a number of years until recently, but rye was the original ingredient.
This one is young enough to shine in a Manhattan and mature enough not to overwhelm the drink. If only other 7 year-olds were as well behaved as this one. This rye with its spicy but the long mellow aging character make it a great ingredient for many rye drinks and a fair amount of bourbon-based drinks as well.
Cigars: Works well with a mild Davidoff, Ashton or any other mild but spicy cigar.
Bottle: Tall clear glass bottle with rounded shoulders shows the rye to excellent effect. Nice heft to the bottle and a good grade of clear glass with nice decanter base so it is solid and hard to knock over. Name and trademark printed directly on a ¾ wrap around paper label. Interesting and various type fonts make for a distinctive look. Also lists handwritten batch and date numbers ( along with who bottled it). Black neck wrap with real cork closure. It also sports a purple paper band below the neck wrap to distinguish it from the bourbon ( which has a red band)
Other : Non chill filtered and has a mash bill of of 95 % rye and 5 % malt which puts it very much over and above the legal minimum of 51% rye and still also far above many other ryes out there that go with a less expensive ( and less expressive) admixture of corn in their ryes. Available from Drink Up NY
Final Thoughts: A very rye forward whiskey with a lot of spice and grain. While not as lovely and as old as the Sazerac 18 it strikes a nice balance of fire and age .
Web site: http://www.smoothambler.com/verify_age.php
Good simple web site easy navigation, simple and straightforward. Need more information and updating. Their Facebook page is much more about to date if a bit to get through.