Review: Smooth Ambler Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey (2019)
West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler made a big name for itself nearly ten years ago when it introduced the Old Scout line of MGP-sourced bourbon and rye whiskey. We reviewed one of the Old Scout Single Barrel releases a few years ago, but the true flagship, at least for a little while, was the standard Old Scout bourbon. The popularity of that bottle resulted in an inventory shortage for the distillery, and the line disappeared altogether in 2016. Well, now it’s back. There’s no age statement, but the relaunch is comprised of the same high rye recipe from MGP and it’s reportedly five years old (the same age that the original Old Scout debuted at back in 2011). Smooth Ambler is assuring its fans that, unlike the original, supply should be stable for the foreseeable future with older releases expected as new stocks age. So, how is the new Old Scout?
The nose is initially a bit dry with alcohol and dusty oak. As it opens, sweet and savory aromas of creamed corn, cinnamon stick, and butterscotch pudding arrive. It’s all rather light for the proof. On the palate, things are a little more complex and richer with a generous, warming heat. Brown sugar, caramel candies, and a little clove cling to the palate, but they are interrupted by outsized notes of earthy mint and oak that introduce some bitterness, especially on the finish. All told, there are promising signs of a classic, balanced bourbon here, but today it remains a bit undercooked and rough around the edges.
This is not the same Old Scout we lost in 2016, but how could it be? At the time it was discontinued, the bourbon in those bottles was reportedly twice as old as this new release (despite the continued use of a seven-year age statement). I look forward to sampling this again in a year or two.
99 proof. Reviewed: Batch #32.
B / $40 / smoothambler.com