Smooth Ambler Yearling (3 years, 6 months)

Last month, Smooth Ambler's 10 Year Old, Single Barrel Old Scout Bourbon won the award for "world's best single barrel bourbon" in a blind test taste at the World Whiskies Awards. It is an awkward victory considering that Smooth Ambler sources Old Scout from MGP in Indiana. Clearly, the guys at Smooth Ambler know how to pick 'em, and they've been doing it since 2009. But you can't get around the fact that their distillery won an award for a bourbon made by another distillery...

Chuck Cowdery's post on the matter is worth your time as are some of the reader comments on his page.

Moving on. We really enjoy Smooth Ambler's Old Scout 7 Year and 10 Year, and the single barrel releases are universally appreciated. But as most people know, Smooth Ambler is more than an NDP. They make plenty of their own stuff (i.e. gin, vodka, rum, and bourbon). Over the last three years, the West Virginia distillery has released their own work-in-progress "Yearling" bourbon. I have been waiting impatiently for the Yearling to grow and mature, but last month I finally picked up a 375 mL bottle of their now 3.5 year old product. After several sittings, here are some notes:

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Yearling (3.5 years old)

Smooth Ambler
92 proof
$21 at Bottles in Columbia, SC

Color: Bright bronze.

Nose: Give it time. It's grainy right out of the bottle. With air time, bourbon aromas fight through sawdust and acetone. Orange peel, vanilla, butterscotch, spearmint and toasted oak. Pleasant after 15+ minutes.

Tasting notes: It's rather dry and vegetal. Sweet spices and prickly grains dominate, but there are flashes of honey and caramel mid-sip. The finish is spicy, oak forward, and rough around the edges.

Overall: Still a wild man. The Yearling packs a raw, woody, grainy, spicy punch. I don't think it's bad, I just think it needs more time in the wood. Blame the small barrels, perhaps?

Peer Reviews:

Wine Mag (6 months)

Bourbon Guy (1 year, 8 months)

Coopered Tot (1 year, 10 month)

Drink Hacker (2 years, 6 months)

Bourbond (2 years, 8 months)