Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Pernod Ricard/Smooth Ambler
Age: 14 Years
Smooth Ambler pulled a rabbit out of their hat last August and released a new batch of 14 Year Very Old Scout at their distillery. Only 3 barrels were bottled and were priced at $195. It was gobbled up thanks to previous releases of their Very Old Scout having attained almost cult-like status. A reader was kind enough to share a sample with us so we could explore the latest release in this line.
It opens with rich, yet tempered aromas of butterscotch, vanilla bean, and leather. It’s inviting and extremely enjoyable. The palate is robust with bold spice and pepper against sweet corn and vanilla. The finish comes off a bit heavily oaked and dry, but thankfully a little of the palate’s sweetness sticks around for balance.
Overall this is a very enjoyable 14 year old bourbon. There are pronounced notes of oak that surprisingly don’t overpower the bourbon like so many older bourbons experience. The sweet notes provide classic contrast to the dry notes and really elevate it. This bourbon makes me miss this age range which has all but disappeared over the past few years. Yes you typically have to contend with more oak notes, but they also provide a hardy backbone to a bourbon which is on display here.
At $195 I might be a bit reserved at picking up a bottle, but that seems to be an ongoing trend with high-aged bourbon nowadays. Bourbon north of 12 years old is commanding a high price, and on top of that, this was a distillery-only release (which adds its own premium). Bourbon really needs to knock your socks off at that price and while this was really good bourbon, it’s hard to ignore the price. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see and taste a Very Old Scout again.
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Mike. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.