As many of you will, no doubt, be aware, last Saturday (16th May) was 2015’s World Whisky Day. Now, we don’t need an excuse to drink whisky, but will nonetheless happily accept one.
Today, I’m taking a look at Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Smooth Ambler Spirits in West Virginia. This is a merchant bottled whiskey, which means that Smooth Ambler don’t distil it themselves (although they do distil their own), but that they found it, loved it, and decided that they wanted to take it under their wing and independently bottle it.
This particular example is a “high rye” whiskey, being made with a mash that is 36% rye (60% corn and 4% malt). It is aged for a minimum of seven years and is bottled at 49.5% ABV. The carefully handwritten label also tells me that this spirit is from batch 100, bottled on 4th December 2014 by Sarah, which I take to be a good omen!
On its own
Nose: A spiced, malty richness is accompanied by dry raisin, wood polish, and lovely hints of dark chocolate and cherry.
Taste: Explosion of warm spice at the start, then the leafy freshness of eucalyptus that is followed by rich, but dry wood. The result is a delightfully refreshing flavour with a full bodiness helped by notes of creamy vanilla, a touch of apple, and the remnants of that mintiness.
Finish: Rich, warm wood and a subtle hint of dark chocolate and peppermint. At the very end of the finish, there’s a creamy dryness reminiscent of coconut.
Fresh, with delightful sweet, woody notes, as well as a little added complexity from some dry notes of stone fruit. This works well both in a strong drink (3:1 ratio) and in a longer, lighter version, say 6:1. It is a very pleasant way to enjoy the whiskey in a long, refreshing drink.
The whiskey adds creamy, full-bodied notes of vanilla (like an amazing vanilla ice-cream), plus an array of fruit notes that range from rich notes of dark cherry to much lighter, refreshing pineapple. This flows neatly into the flavours of the ginger ale. Perfect.
The whiskey integrates marvellously into this cocktail, with notes of spiced rye and a little black pepper, before the dry vanilla and wood notes of the whiskey take over. The finish is fresh and leafy, like eucalyptus.
To start, there’s a pleasant, fruity tang from the vermouth, along with a quick burst of spice and savoury cherry, before a long finish of dry wood notes with lots of vanilla and a little leafy sappiness.
This is a marvellous whiskey. On its own, it’s got a lovely, rich, and delightfully refreshing flavour, and in all of the drinks that we tried it in, it integrated well, adding body and flavour. I struggle to choose a favourite, but it’s either the Whiskey Ginger or the Old Fashioned. I get the sense that most of this, though, will be enjoyed neat and shared with good friends.
– Mrs. B.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Yr Old Bourbon is available for around £55 for 70cl from Master of Malt.