Saturday, 21 November 2015

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 year old - 50%

Yes. Another spirit from the US - and this time it’s the Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 year old bourbon. 
     It’s from the West Virginia craft distillery and bottled at a very respectable 50%. Unlike my last review, this hugely enjoyable bourbon has a healthy shovelful of rye added to the mashbill which gives a lovely spicy character. It’s not the first Smooth Ambler I’ve tried – I tucked into a seven-year old version back in 2013.
    Just for the record, this particular bottle is from Batch 16 and bottled on April 29, 2014.

Nose: Buttery cream-filled cannoli dusted with spicy ground cinnamon and icing sugar. The rye is definitely adding that edge of spice. There’s also black cherries mixed with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream (Having thoughts of creating a syrup with this bourbon and pouring it over ice-cream). A little nail-polish remover astringency makes itself known, but it’s softened by golden syrup, a drizzle of honey, mint and good old-fashioned Scottish tablet.

Palate: A sweet arrival which remains sweet right the way through. The rye adds green spice, which sits just underneath honey, apple and caramel notes. It’s rich and mouth coating, with more mint and a teaspoon of cough medicine.

Finish: Sweet and herbal with prickly cinnamon. Some baked lemon, coffee and dark chocolate.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

W.L. Weller 12 Wheated bourbon - 45%

My round-up of American spirits continues - and there are two more to come. I bought this delicious wheated bourbon in early 2014 and demolished the bottle in no time at all. I kept a sample - as I do with all good spirits that pass my lips - so I'm finally getting round to getting some notes down.
     It's made by the team at Buffalo Trace and they substitute the spicy rye in the mashbill and replace it with wheat. This gives the spirit a softer edge and this is a special drop. My only regret is not buying a second bottle at the time as it's a rare find these days. If you see it, grab it.

Nose: Incredibly deep with rich, dark caramel, toffee, sugared almonds and big, fluffy pink and white marshmallows. There's also Frosties breakfast cereal, muscovado sugar, ground cinnamon, mint and a touch of eucalyptus. There's fresh vanilla, golden syrup, subtle baked lemon, polished wood. Bounty bars with a dash of water. Complex stuff.

Palate: A sweet arrival which quickly gives way to dry oak. There's plenty of lemon infused caramel, toffee, malty cereals, chocolate liqueur and black cherry syrup, too.

Finish: Creamy vanilla, more toffee, crushed sugar and mint, dry wood, polished oak furniture and pink peppercorns. There's also a hint of cognac, cinnamon dusted pastry and well-toasted seeded granary bread.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Stillhouse American Whiskey - 40%

I'm back! After a long time away from the blog, it's time to get right back on track. I've decided to kick things into action with my thoughts on Van Brunt's Stillhouse American Whiskey.
     It's a young and feisty spirit which carries a very unusual character. It's sold in 375ml bottles and I took a punt on this particular bottle while on holiday in New York as you just can't get it over here and I was intrigued. So, on with the show. And don't worry, there are dozens more whisky reviews on the way. Your patience will be rewarded!

Nose: This is very young with notes of iced tea and stone fruits such as peaches and sour plums. A distinct white grappa scent is also apparent, along with nail polish remover, warm grass, a slight caramel, fruit syrup and cranberries. 
     The addition of a couple of drops of water brings sawdust into the mix and the peach stone note intensifies. There's also chopped coriander buried in there too. Interesting.

Palate: The youth of the spirit is unmistakable. That grappa note from the nose comes straight to the fore but there's also a slight red fruitiness which softens the spirit. Water drops a huge plank of wood into the glass along with a slight musty grape note.

Finish: Dry white grapes, stewed tea and incredibly dry. Schezuan peppercorns and grass. It tastes like sucking on a plum or cherry stone. Water doesn't really add anything to the finish.

Verdict: This is young, rough stuff and really not that enjoyable neat at room temperature. I don't like chilled whisky (or whiskey), but I dropped a whisky stone straight from the freezer to see if it made any difference. It did. The spirit became much more rounded and smoother on the nose, while flavour followed suit and performed much better.