A very rye forward, spicy and somewhat intense bourbon.
Notes: This is a relatively new micro distillery in West Virginia. So new that while they want to produce their own bourbon 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 bourbon in their portfolio in the interim and so in a very refreshing spirit of honesty they offer up this bourbon 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 rye ( also a handpicked stand in , see above) . They are also planning a brandy release which we ave not yet reviewed.
Appearance: Deep amber, old patinaed copper/bronze in the bottle, slight sediment/floaters in the bottle but hat just let’s us know it hasn’t been filtered to death. Nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whiskey. On swirling, with scattered legs developing after a bit with a nice ,thick edge line.
First Impression: Very pronounced sweet/sour spiciness with a somewhat aromatic bouquet of persimmons, apricots, dried fruit and slightly jammy.
Taste: Lovely, slightly sweet and oily body that flows nicely, nice minty,vanilla, oak char, leather and lighter dried fruits with a nice spiciness and depth you don’t get with wheat bourbons. Nice spice notes with a touch of sweetness and enough wood to add some depth. Nicely assertive and a little rough around the edges in a raffish rather than crude way
Drinks: Works well in most rye of bourbon drinks, Not as sweet as some bourbons with a spicier edgier taste that will make the whiskey stand out a bit more in some drinks stands up well to vermouth to make a slightly less urbane Manhattan, and a Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour has a little more spice and punch than your usual. Also nicely to add to your jams or sauces in cooking.
Cigars: Something mild so as not to lose the nuances. Small natural wrapper cigar.
Bottle: Tall clear glass bottle with rounded shoulders shows the bourbon 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 a real cork closure. It also sports a red paper band below the neck wrap to distinguish it from the bourbon ( which has a purple band)
Other : Non chill filtered and has a mash bill of of 36 % rye which is more than double many other bourbons. Available from Drink Up NY
Final Thoughts: A very rye forward bourbon whiskey with a lot of spice and grain.
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.