Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Smoke Wagon Small Batch Straight Bourbon

- $55
- 100 Proof
- Indiana/Nevada

I've finally made my way through all four offerings of Smoke Wagon that hit the shelves in our area.  A few posts ago I commented on the fact that Smoke Wagon, sourced bourbons from H&C Distilling Co. out of Las Vegas, was getting a lot of internet love in social media, but it just wasn't in Illinois. Until one day, four different versions managed to hit the shelves all at once, from the lower end Straight Bourbon to the full proof Uncut and Unfiltered to the well-aged Desert Jewel Reserve.

I went through them in no particular order, but I've absolutely loved each one that I've had for what each one brings to the table. Finally, I got around to opening the small batch. I look at this as kind of their regular, mid-shelf offering. It's a bit on the high end in price for a mid-level offering, but among the other Smoke Wagon releases, that seems to be where this falls. It does, however, come with the same cool bottle design that the Uncut and Unfiltered and the desert Jewel Reserve came in. 

The nose was full of sweet and rich caramel. I also got some nice toffee notes as well, along with a bit of milk chocolate. This all had a vanilla undertone that even had a slight spearmint and root beer quality to it. It had a little bit of spice, but with all the sweetness going on, it came across as more of a cinnamon sugar note than anything. Oddly, I also got a biscuit note that threw me off a bit.

The flavor very much followed suit with the nose. Toffee and vanilla were right up front, and those notes hung around well through the finish.  The chocolate flavor, though, came through a lot more than it did on the nose. It also had a light pepper spice that I noticed on the tip of my tongue with each sip.

About half-way through the bottle, the profile seemed to change quite a bit. I got a kind of a buttery and bready note, kind of like coffee cake. It even had that ribbon of cinnamon to go with that only seemed to appear every other sip or so. It also developed more rich and even tangy notes. I started getting some amaretto notes, and at times even an anise note.

On the final few pours those tangy notes turned into what I eventually identified as a distinct sweet peach tea note. Even on the final pours, though, the vanilla and toffee notes were still there, and even a bit of that spearmint seemed to linger. Quite frankly, it was the final two pours that I liked the most!

All in all, Smoke Wagon is putting out some great whiskey, and I don't think you could go wrong with anything in their lineup.  That being said, if I were to pick up another off the shelf, I'd probably reach for the Uncut and Unfiltered at $5-10 more, or even the Straight Bourbon which is a much better value. I probably liked that one equally as much as this one, if not more, and it was $15 less.

Grade: B

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