Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Smugglers’ Notch Distillery
MSRP: $50 (2019)
Jeffersonville, Vermont is known for the numerous ski resorts nearby, but more interestingly, it’s also located by the foothills of Smugglers’ Notch. During the 1800’s, the U.S. Congress placed an embargo on the imports of all English goods. In an attempt to skirt this, the British shipped their goods to Canada and smuggled them down what became known as Smugglers’ Notch Pass. Why this is important (besides being a cool bit of history), is because that same trail was again used during Prohibition to smuggle alcohol.
With this little bit of interesting booze history in tow, the father and son team of Ron and Jeremy Elliott opened Smugglers’ Notch Distillery in 2006. Ron, a retired business executive, and Jeremy, a research chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, used their backgrounds to open a distillery well before the craft distillery boom, and focused on all types of spirits. Their current whiskey lineup consists of a straight bourbon, rye, wheated whiskey, and a bourbon finished with 100% pure Vermont maple syrup.
Smugglers’ Notch Straight Bourbon opens with a rush of vanilla and caramel followed by lemon and orange citrus on the nose. It’s traditional, yet satisfying. The palate is quite sweet at first sip, allowing for an interesting interplay with the bourbon’s spicer and hotter side. This caramel and butterscotch sweetness also makes it an easy sipper for a 90 proof bourbon. Oak takes over on the finish providing a heavy contrast to the palate.
This is a bourbon very segmented, unlike some bourbons’ palates that gently flow into their finish. It also has a lingering aftertaste of chocolate, caramel, and grain notes that adds to this bourbon’s distinct parts.
Smugglers’ Notch Straight Bourbon isn’t necessarily a cohesive bourbon and instead provides a bit of a roller coaster ride of its flavor profile. Despite being open since 2006, surprisingly this is a sourced bourbon, which the Elliotts then age, blend, proof with Vermont water, and bottle in Vermont. It does taste a little grainy on the aftertaste, but overall it’s a fun sipper.