Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Straight Rye Whiskey
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Straight Rye Whiskey is sourced and bottled by Smooth Ambler Spirits located in Greenbriar County, WV. I recently reviewed the 8 year Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Rye from SA and was absolutely blown away. What is the difference between these two products? This 7 year straight rye is slightly younger, lower proof, and batched from multiple barrels. Both are the 95/5 rye mashbill sourced from the Midwest Grain Products distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Both are from the same MGP stock that was initially purchased by SA however on their journey end up as slightly different products.
The MGP 95/5 Rye mashbill includes 5% barley for a very good reason. Rye grain by itself does not have the necessary enzymes to convert the starches to sugars during the mash process. MGP determined that adding 5% barley to the mash would add enough enzymes to allow for conversion. High West on the other hand is producing a distillate from a 100% Rye mashbill that requires the addition of supplemental enzymes for mash conversion. Interesting stuff.
Distilery: MGP Ingredients, Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Mashbill: MGP 95% Rye/5% Barley
Age: 7 years
Bottle Date: 6/20/14
Pour: 1.5 oz neat in a Scottish Glencairn
Nose: Begins with Nilla Wafers and caramel Twix before transitioning into the classic MGP dill note followed by menthol, and finally mint from the garden.
Palate: Pumpernickel bread and baking spices ride parallel with very pronounced dill and herbal notes. Chewy and oily which helps to coat the tongue and mouth for the finish.
Finish: black pepper and cinnamon fade into a long, satisfying finish. Slight astringency at the very end but not too dry.
Sometimes you need an everyday rye sipper and sometimes you need a rye to contemplate the intricacies of the universe. This rye is not the latter but I’m OK with that. Somedays I need a solid rye to relax with and space out. That is this rye and it is really, really good.
The classic MGP dill pickle notes are much more intense in the 7 year 99 proof rye compared to the cask strength offering. The MGP dill pickle rye funk is a polarizing aroma/flavor combination that doesn’t work for every palate. Full disclosure - the first time I tasted this rye I was not a fan. However after revisiting the bottle a few more times I was assimilated into the MGP 95/5 fan club and have not looked back.
Why take an interest in a lower proof, younger, blended rye when I gave the cask strength product a higher review? These are different beasts but compliment each other very well. The 8 year cask strength is more complex however the 7 year is more youthful and intense with the MGP herbal/vegetal notes. SA announced a $10 price hike for 2015 which means depending on when your local bottle shop purchased their stock you might still be able find this juice for $35 to $45.
Smooth Ambler made one initial purchase of aged 95/5 distillate from MGP and has now begun to run out. The 7 year, 99 proof rye was until recently a regular offering from Smooth Ambler. However, this offering was another casualty in the announcement on June 10 indicating that SA would be temporarily discontinuing their Old Scout Rye lineup until another source of rye could be secured.
I feel an overwhelming loss as I write this review because this rye is fantastic. Simply put - Smooth Ambler picked very good barrels and have proved across multiple batches that that they can bottle a consistently good rye whiskey. However this is not the end to the remaining MGP 95/5 rye stocks. SA announced that they will be releasing the remaining rye stocks in extra aged, limited bottlings. Also on the horizon this fall is the release of their housemade, 6 year old bourbon.
Mark @ Entry Proof