Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Smoke Wagon Rare and Limited Single Vintage Blend 8 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch #1

- $99
- 118.9 Proof
- 8 Yrs.
- Batch #1
- Indiana

This is one of those bottles where I didn't realize how lucky I was to get my hands on it at the time. This came out at a time when Smoke Wagon was just starting to hit its peak. Only the early releases of Uncut Unfiltered had come out, and the limited release Desert Jewel, which was amazing by the way, had only just come and gone. 

In fact, when my local guy brought this bottle out of the back for me, I wasn't even aware that it was a thing. But, I was immediately drawn to the age, the proof, and of course the jingly blue medal draped around the bottle's neck (actually, it's more annoying than anything, but it didn't make me NOT want to buy it). This was one of those bottles that I held onto for longer than necessary, as it had been open for almost a full three years. But it was one that I didn't want to see go away--one of those once-it's-gone-it's-gone-for-good whiskeys.

The nose was rich and sweet, full of notes of toffee and semi sweet chocolate. It was like a Heath bar, but not quite as sweet. It also had a decent amount of oak on the nose, particularly for only an 8 year old whiskey. There was a slight cinnamon note to spice it up, as well as a maraschino note to add just a little bit of pop of rich cherry in the aroma.

The palate didn't quite match. I went in expecting something rich and boozy, like you might get at one of those fancy chocolatiers. Instead up front it was more earthy, with notes of damp pine and leather. It was, dare I say, funky. It also had a decent amount of oak up front to add to the profile. I was really thrown off by this.

Once past that initial flavor, though, there were some of those sweet notes I was expecting, like the rich toffee notes. The chocolate note came through as well, but more like a rich brownie batter than a bitter dark chocolate. There was even a black licorice note that, quite frankly, worked really well with the earthy notes.

The finish on this bourbon absolutely won me over, though. It coated my mouth in this sweet candy caramel that seemed to last forever. Mix that with the rich brownie note that stuck around, and it was just an incredible dessert of a finish. I did find myself going right back for another sip just to keep enjoying that finish.

This was a weird one to grade, because the nose didn't match the palate, it was funky but not bad up front, but the finish was absolutely incredible. But, I often judge a whiskey, at least in part, by how badly I want that next pour or sip, and this one was up there on that scale. 

Grade: B+

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