Smooth Ambler: The Smoother, Younger Bourbon

Tucked in the Appalachian hills of Greenbrier County, West Virginia, Smooth Ambler Spirits combines innovation with local produce and a smart distillation process to produce outstanding spirits which are perfectly balanced.

The history

This state-of-the-art Craft Distillery was established in 2009 by Tag Galyean and John Little. It produces a number of spirits-- the most prominent among them being whiskies. Set in the tiny suburb of Maxwelton, this distillery is run by a small team which includes sales director John Foster and vice-president and head distiller John Little. The production though labour intensive, only requires a small number of people.

The process

As the ritual goes, the local community does the bottling work and whoever completes the process, signs the bottle. At present the distillery matures hundreds of barrels of whiskey in their new rick house. These include two different bourbons and a wheat whiskey with around 8 new barrels being churned out every week. The brand also produces superior quality vodka and gin. The brand curates its own range of whiskies distilled elsewhere. These are then bottled under the Old Scout label. Having access to fresh mountain air and natural spring water, Smooth Ambler is produced from natural resources. The corn is produced on a single farm located half an hour away from the distillery. The Greenbrier Valley renders the perfect climatic conditions for maturing bourbon keeping an ideal temperature differences between seasons.

The palate

On the first sip, you will feel the wheat component in the bourbon. Notes of new oak, corn, bubble gum, hints of dark chocolate, and slight amounts of vanilla and honey are present along with a healthy dose of rye spice. Less sweet and much spicier on the nose, the flavour combination works great, especially with the interplay between the older rye and relatively youthful wheat, which were left to meld for three more months. Though the wheat component covers just 27% of the overall blend, the overall impact remains more pronounced with the rye adding an enhanced spice level.

Spicy in the front and dry at the back, the finish takes a different twist which is not typical of a rye based bourbon. Heavy rye spice, charred oak, and light vanilla all make their presence felt. Then leather and a lot of aged oak caps it off. The finish lingers for too long and at times overstays leading to a really woody, dry finish. The finish turns out to be totally opposite as the younger wheated bourbon fails to leave any impact at the end.

Finally the palate turns out to be sweet. The sweet taste is accentuated by caramel and mint and is followed up by a rounded vanilla. Close to the mouth, some definite pepper begins to show itself before a rush of citrus and apricot shows up. At the end, the finish is very warm with lots of spice, with hints of dried apricot and citrus. The vanilla seems to return on the end.

As a label, Smooth Ambler is growing in popularity amongst bourbon fanatics.

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