By Richard Thomas
West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler still has a lingering reputation for its sourced whiskeys, but those are steadily receding into the horizon as the distillery moves forward with its in-house spirits. Drinkers initially became familiar with their wheated bourbon, but the distillery also laid down some bourbon made with the traditional rye recipe style mash. Now we get a look at that second bourbon through their Founders’ Cask Strength series.
That mash really is quite traditional: 71% corn, 21% rye and 8% malted barley. A recipe like that could have come from any of the Kentucky Majors. Cask strength in this batch is 61.8% ABV for the bottle I received (I’m aware of another batch that is 58.5%). This was also supposed to be 5 years old, based on the press release I received on the subject back in May, but my bottle is 6 years old.
The pour looked mid-amber in the glass, with a mild, subdued nose. The scent had the requisite candy corn and vanilla notes, with a hint of toasted wood.
Now that points to what is interesting about this bourbon, but will also likely disappoint some drinkers. Cask strength whiskey is usually described with terms like full-bodied, bold or ballsy. This whiskey is actually rather restrained, so much so that I am sure I wouldn’t have picked it out as being above 100 proof in a blind tasting. The flavor mirrors the nose, with just a dash of added spice, continuing to be deceptively mild.
The recommended retail price on this bottle is $54.99.