Sunday, March 15, 2020

Smoke Wagon Straight Bourbon Whiskey

- $40
- 92.5 Proof
- Nevada (distilled in Indiana)

I always do my best to try out the new brands on the block. I've heard of Smoke Wagon only due to an internet kerfuffle over the purchase of a barrel pick. The story, if you will, got a lot of attention and caused a lot of discussion on Facebook, Twitter and message boards, and at the time, I had no idea what Smoke Wagon even was.

But, as a result of all that talk, I quickly learned who they were, despite that they weren't in Illinois. But, it wasn't too long after that that I got a message letting me know they had hit -- this straight bourbon, a small batch, a cask strength and a 10-year. Initially this was the only bottle I was able to find, but with a little patience, a little diligence, and of course a little good luck, I was eventually able to track down all three to give them a try.

At the outset, though it has nothing to do with the bourbon itself, I really like this bottle design. I like the tall bottles, and the printed on label (rather than a paper label) is really eye-catching. I've been fooled by pretty packaging before, though, so I wanted to be sure to let the whiskey do the talking.

On the nose I got a bunch of corn and molasses. This gave it a sweet, grainy, and young character. There was also a kind of a fake cherry note and a sweet cinnamon note that reminded me of a spicy cherry hard candy (like a mix between a Fireball and a cherry Jolly Rancher). After it was opened for a bit, I liked it a bit more, as it was dominated by a dark caramel note as well as some welcome vanilla notes.

The palate, much like the nose, was young, sweet and corn-forward. It nonetheless also had a lot of that caramel that I was getting on the nose in later pours, as well as a light cinnamon spice. I did get some woody bitterness to it, as well as a light peppery spice. Luckily, I did not taste any of that fake cherry I was getting on the nose.

As it sat open for a while, it seemed to sweet up significantly.  Although the flavors remained somewhat soft, I'm sure partly due to the lower proof, it turned into something sweet and sugary. It reminded me of the caramel syrup that's drizzled onto fancy coffee drinks.

For anyone that likes really sweet bourbons, this would be right up their alley. However, for me it was a bit too sweet, and a bit too young. I wish it had developed a bit more spice. That being said, though, this had a lot of flavor and still stood up as a pretty good bourbon, one I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at. I'm looking forward to trying and finishing off the other bottles in the line-up!

Grade: B

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