Age: approx 5 years old
Tasted: neat in a glencairn glass. Bottle has been open for a month.
Batch one of Smooth Ambler’s Wheated Bourbon was their very first house produced distillate to come of age. Their other popular whiskey offerings like Old Scout and Contradiction are outstanding but are sourced from other distileries. Smooth Ambler has gained a lot of fans in the whiskey community with their Old Scout offerings. In particular, their cask strength, single barrel, bourbon and rye offerings are sought after and now discontinued for the foreseeable future.
When the news hit in January 2017 that Smooth Ambler was releasing a small quantity of their very own Wheated Bourbon the bourbon community rejoiced. However, the first batch was only to be sold at the distillery and locally in West Virgina. This was Smooth Ambler’s way of thanking the local West Virgina community of their support over the past several years. Currently, Smooth Ambler doesn’t plan on distributing any more of the Wheated Bourbon in 2017.
Nose: Corn, caramel, vanilla. It also has a tropical/citrus smell. I want to say grapefruit.
Palate: Reminds me of buttered popcorn you get at a movie theater. There is also some caramel, fresh oak, and has a bit of the rye bite to it although there probably isn’t any rye in the mashbill. It does taste youthful to me with the strong corn notes. However, I have heard people say that this pour is thin on the palate and hot. I get neither. The mouth-fell is about average, but I wouldn’t call it thin. I did get heat on this pour when it was initially cracked, but that has greatly diminished. This whiskey definitely improved with some time to open up in the bottle, which is why I never review a freshly cracked bottle.
Finish: Medium, slight dry fresh oak on the finish. Some caramel, but not much else.
80 – 84 (B-) = Not-too-bad, No major flaws, worth tasting
It tastes young, and this is alright. Wheated bourbons are tricky because they usually need more time to age than your regular bourbon or rye whiskey. I would expect in the next few years this Wheated Bourbon will evolve sweeter, more complex notes. However, right now it isn’t much of a sipping whiskey in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this bottle to make some killer cocktails.
I appreciate Smooth Ambler releasing this batch to give fans an early taste of what’s to come. The future is definitely bright. It just needs a few more years.
If I was given the opportunity to make one recommendation it would be to provide the Wheated Bourbon at cask strength. I know they do amazing things with their water, but us whiskey nerds love that high proof juice. Or maybe……. they resurrect their barrel program for Wheated Bourbon? <mic drop>