by Bill Schweri, Consultant
I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful wedding in Lewisburg, West Virginia. While there, I had a free afternoon and went to tour and taste the whiskey at Smooth Ambler Distillery. Our tour guide, Arri, gave an excellent overview of Smooth Ambler and an informative walk-through of the distillery. The tasting was a pleasant surprise. Here are a few of my notes.
Big Level Bourbon is a 100 Proof wheated bourbon distilled, aged and bottled at the Smooth Ambler distillery in Lewisburg, West Virginia. The mashbill is 71% corn, 21% wheat, 8% malted barley. The wheat and corn are apparent in the nose with sweet caramel notes. The caramel and vanilla come out in the taste with the oak coming through. There is also a slight taste of cinnamon on the tail end. This was described as the future of the distillery. Arri told us that the distillers are continuing to experiment and improve the process in an attempt to make a signature bourbon, unique to the Smooth Ambler distillery. I believe they are well on their way. An older expression of this wheated bourbon would be interesting to try.
Contradiction is a 100 proof blend of a 2 year old wheated bourbon and a 9 year old high rye bourbon. The wheated bourbon is made on site at Smooth Ambler and the 9 year old bourbon is sourced from MGP in Indiana. Tasting this, I was surprised that the younger bourbon did not dominate the older rye flavors of spice and caramel. Some vanilla, oak and corn are immediately apparent.
Old Scout Single Barrel Select is a cask-strength low-rye bourbonsourced from a Tennessee distiller. The mashbill is 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% malt. The nose is caramel, oak and apple. It is a smooth bourbon with vanilla, butterscotch, and leather flavors. The high corn content shows in the sweetness of the bourbon and the oak presents as a salty caramel.
Old Scout Single Barrel is a cask-strength high-rye bourbon. The mashbill is 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt. It was spicy on the nose and palette with a taste of apple. The rye is predominant in the taste profile but there is plenty of sweet corn flavors too.
I purchased a bottle of the 13 year old Single Barrel. This 99 proof bourbon is sourced from Indiana. It is quite good with a nose that is sweet vanilla and butterscotch. The taste is butterscotch, caramel and vanilla. It is a very smooth bourbon and in 2016 received the World Whiskies Award’s “Best Single Barrel Bourbon in the World.”