Sunday, December 6, 2020

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Straight Bourbon

- $50
- 99 Proof
- Batch No. 10
- Indiana

Not too long ago it seems that Old Scout products had disappeared from the shelves here in the Chicago area. I could regularly find Contradiction, and even Big Level was pretty readily available. But Old Scout, the brand that seemingly built Smooth Ambler, was nowhere to be found.

Of course, there was the occasional exception. Most notably, I recall a well-aged (I think it was 12 years) Tennessee whiskey that was bottled under the Old Scout label and sold as a Binny's store pick. I didn't bite at that mostly due to the price and source. However, when a regular bottling of Old Scout made its way back to shelves at $50, I had to at least give it a try. I've been a fan for the most part, and I was hopeful that I'd find myself a yummy bourbon that would be a mainstay on my liquor store shelves.

The nose on this was actually pretty great. I got a lot of candied orange and brown sugar. I also got notes of dark chocolate. I think what I liked most, however, was the nice roasty quality to this nose. It actually smelled a bit like a stout, with roasty espresso notes as well as dark chocolate. I could have sat there sniffing my glass all day.

As to flavor, my first notes were that it was sweet and rich. I got a decent amount of dark cherry as well as that dark chocolate I was getting on my nose. It also had that roasted note to it, like a roasted coffee flavor, adding a bit of bitterness to the flavor as well.

What I found most interesting about this whiskey, though, was that I got a somewhat distinct Neapolitan flavor to it. I got chocolate and vanilla, but also a strawberry note that was event the sort of fake strawberry that I get from Neapolitan ice cream 

On the finish, what seemed to linger was the bitter espresso note. It was fairly bitter, and as much as I wanted to like it, this just didn't work. The bitter coffee note didn't really seem to go with any of the other flavors, and it didn't add anything great on its own. Rather, it just added this bitterness and some sharp edges that otherwise weren't there. 

In the end, I found myself using the last few pours from this bottle in Old Fashioned's. As a mixer, particularly for an Old Fashioned, this bourbon was great!  On its own, though, it was just decent and nothing to write home to mom about. I think, perhaps, I was most turned off by the finish that provided bitter espresso notes and not a whole lot else.

Grade: B-

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