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Smooth Ambler Old Scout 5 Year B&B Private Barrel 116.6 Proof Bourbon

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Smooth Ambler built their reputation on quality barrel selections from MGP, one of the first to flatly state that they sourced from Indiana, rather than hiding the source while telling a romantic heritage story. Those barrels started as 5-year bottlings under the Old Scout label, and the reputation grew as that stock aged.

By 2014, they realized that while their relationship with MGP was still a privileged one, the stocks they had come to rely on were dwindling. The temporary solution was to source additional whiskey from the Dickel Distillery in Tennessee to blend with their remaining Indiana stocks. Those whiskies still found plenty of fans, but many pined for the return of their glorious MGP selections. Finally, in 2019 the whiskey they commissioned MGP to distill specifically for them beginning in 2014 came of age, and the glory of the original Old Scout was reborn.

We've tasted through a lot of MGP private barrel options lately, and it has become very clear that huge variations can and should be expected. Even if much of it was created equal, some can take that distillate and work magic with it, others can't. When samples of this Old Scout reached us, we had just about exhausted our enthusiasm for MGP barrel samples. After turning down many barrels from various bottlers, whoa-boy were we excited we kept at it! Smooth Ambler knows what they are doing, whether it's a superior MGP distillate, better barrel management, the Independent Stave Company's premium Cooper’s Select barrels (air seasoned for an especially long 18 months), or some combination of all these elements. Something is different here, and we’re so much better off for it.

After tasting through a stellar lineup, we settled on a real honey barrel. Aged for 5 years and made from the standard Old Scout mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley, it’s got a big rich nose, and the "honey" mention is literal. This is full of wild honeycomb, which follows through on the palate with a lot of beautiful barrel char, salted caramel, oyster crackers, and a smack of snickerdoodle. With a little bit of water (this is bottled at a cask strength ABV of 58.3%), the body fills out with a luxurious creaminess, the spice becomes just a touch muted, and the honeyed sweet notes become even more prevalent. If you’re worried this bourbon will be too sweet – the balance on it is fantastic. While that honey note is distinct, it also shows bold oak and spice notes beyond its 5 years, that highest-level Char #4 barrel treatment revealing itself in an exceptional single barrel. Biscuits and honey, this is begging for some fried chicken to pair with it. Enjoy!