- 123.6 Proof
- 5 Years
- Batch 1
- West Virginia
The only rye I've had from Smooth Ambler was their 7 year rye from from their Old Scout line, and more recently, their single barrel rye from a couple years ago. Of course, those were famously ryes sourced from MGP. Those older ryes are now highly sought after and command a pretty penny on the secondary market.
While this is certainly different whiskey than what was previously bottled, I was nonetheless very excited to see sitting on the shelf a 5 year, cask strength rye from Smooth Ambler, this time of their own making! I'm a sucker for cask strength ryes as it is, but to get an initial offering from an established distillery and with 5 years of aging behind it, there was no way I wasn't buying a bottle. How I missed any news about this as an upcoming release escapes me, but getting those surprise finds is still a lot of fun!
The nose was a spicy, sweet and rich blend of cinnamon and toffee. It also had a light peppery spice to it to kick it up a bit. There was a rich licorice or anise note on the nose as well, but it wasn't dominating. I also got a bit of sweet tobacco leaf, something I usually get from a single malt, not a rye.
On my first sip, right away I noticed that this doesn't drink up to its proof, which is usually very dangerous. It led with a peppery caramel note right up front, and at times that leaned more towards a burnt sugar note, with a light smoky accent.
There was also a grain-forward cereal note to it. That note seemed to be complemented by a cinnamon note that reminded me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, but with a little bit more kick. It was almost like a cinnamon liqueur note, rather than a cinnamon sugar note.
The finish was dominated by the cinnamon note, almost like I had just finished eating cinnamon flavored hard candy, like a fireball. That note that reminded me of a cinnamon liqueur seemed to linger long after every other flavor had dissipated.
All in all, this gave me the spice and the punch that I usually want from a good, cask strength rye. But, it seemed a bit one-dimensional, with nearly every note being some play on cinnamon. If this had just a touch more complexity or finesse, it would have been excellent.