Currently Sipping Smooth Ambler Old Scout

A Friday evening is always a good time for an unfamiliar bourbon. This evening is the Smooth Ambler Old Scout. A Tasty bourbon from the West Virginia Distillery.

Even though Smooth Ambler create a variety of spirits from scratch at the distillery, the Old Scout line is not that. The Old Scout bottlings are sourced whiskey, hence the name, the source whiskey was carefully scouted out. Some purists might moan about it not all being made in house, but they can keep that moaning to themselves! Smooth Ambler is one of those distilleries that does it right, and finds some terrific liquid. The Appalachian community spirit that the distillery is built around is just another ingredient that adds to a wonderful product. The community around them are really at the heart of this company, so producing a liquid that can make their small community shine world wide, is fantastic. I am a fan of a lot of liquids that come from distilleries all over the world, but I will always gravitate more frequently to distilleries like Smooth Ambler where when you hear them talk about their spirits, you know they truly care about what they put out!

Now they have a few different versions of Old Scout, but in front of me I have the 99 proof Straight Bourbon. The current mash bill of this one is 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley. Aged around 5 years, with a high rye content, you are getting a very bold bourbon. They have done an exceptional job at sourcing this liquid. Oodles of butterscotch sweets, very warming with that rye spiciness, cloves, along with some wonderful earthy herbs.

Grab a bottle here if you are unfamiliar with Smooth Ambler as I was.

Currently Drinking Some Hampden Estate

Been waiting a while to get some hands on this bottle of Hampden Great House Distillery Edition. A perfect addition to any rum shelf in time for Summer. Here’s a quick little rundown of our experience with it.

Definitely no stranger to the Hampden Estate rums and always happy when there is an open bottle around for enjoyment. This release is fantastic for the seasoned Hampden drinker or someone who has no experience with them at all. That is because this release was created for the sole purpose of showcasing everything that is amazing about Hampden Estates rums!

This is not like a lot of their other single cask bottlings out there, the Great House Edition is expertly blended by the distillery’s Master Distiller. I also love seeing that they are putting out more of their own labeled rums instead of sending out mass amounts of their liquid to other companies. Like a lot of Jamaican rums, this expression is a high ester (natural compounds created during the fermentation process) rum, which adds to the amazing range of flavours in this rum!

A blend of two molasses based rums and local spring water, the rum bottled at a boisterous 59% ABV. A full funk rum for sure! Everything you love from Hampden Estate. Initially they only had limited amount of 1200 bottles being sold at the distillery and supplied to special events. Luckily for us it made its way here!

You are looking at wonderful array of tangy tropical fruit flavours, with grilled pineapples, tasty puckering lemon, thick molasses, and nice smoked chocolate in there.

Grab a bottled for yourself HERE!

A True Beam-Suntory Crossover!

It was definitely big news when two major whisk(e)y powerhouses merged to create a massive East/West giant! Beam and Suntory merging was an exciting time for the whisk(e)y world, wondering what the marriage between Japanese and American giants could bring us in the form of golden liquid! Well, that came to fruition with Legent Bourbon.

Legent Bourbon is the love child of two whiskey legends from opposite ends of the globe and years of quiet collaboration between the both of them. Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s Master Distiller, and Shinji Fukuyo, Suntory’s Chief Blender. Both men bringing their expertise to the table and ultimately learning from each other! Fukuyo learning the art of the bourbon mash bill in a continuous still, along with intricacies of how Kentucky’s climate plays a role in the maturation. Noe on the other hand learned, what Japan is great at, how to use different cask finishes and blending them expertly! Unlike in Japan, blended whiskey can sometimes have a negative connotation in the United States. This is a bottling that will help shed that perception.

Legent is the blend of three different versions of Jim Beam. All three start out as Jim Beam’s standard Kentucky Bourbon mash bill, then 2 versions are secondary cask finished. The standard being the bourbon barrel finished giving the traditional oaky vanilla and caramel flavours which represents a big portion of the final product. The other two versions have that same bourbon transferred to secondary casks. One, California red wine casks, and the other, sherry casks. The sherry gives the nutty, slight spice, dried fruit flavours and the wine casks showcase the more mild red fruit flavours. At the end of all that, Fukuyo works his magic and blends them all together in this beautiful final product.

This whiskey is a perfect addition to the bourbon world and represents what two cultures working together can yield! A wonderful product of innovation.

As you drink Legent neat or on the rocks you’ll notice it change quickly as it sits on your tongue. It starts like a bourbon – rich, warm and oaky. Then, like a Japanese whisky, it features both complex layers of dried fruits and spice. Adding an ice cube or two accentuates Legent’s already bright, smooth and unexpectedly long finish.

Shop now!

A Look Into Wild Thyme Spirits

If you are like most of us here at Whisky Merchant, you are always on the lookout for new and unique spirits! Now, new doesn’t always have to be newly released, maybe just one you have never come across before. Wild Thyme Spirits may fall into that category for a lot of you. They produce Colonsay Gin from all the way up in the Hebrides!

Wild Thyme was founded by Finlay and Eileen Geekie, who packed up their busy lives in Oxfordshire, and ventured north to start their new lives as spirit makers in The Hebrides! Their love of gin, creating a sustainable future, and desire to build on the island community all played into the creation of the new life adventure they set out on! Wild Thyme is a small batch distillery that moved their gin production to the Island of Colonsay after previously working with Strathearn Distillery. They believed it was about time they brought production back to the gin’s namesake! As displayed on the label and in the name, Wild Thyme Spirits is rooted in Celtic spirit folklore. In particular, it is said they are protected by Alva, a red-haired maiden who graces their gin label.

Their gin is crafted using local botanicals after the husband and wife team were granted access to the historic Colonsay House to source a variety of botanicals. The 7 botanicals that made the final cut include juniper, angelica root, calamus root, liquorice root, orange peel, orris root and coriander seeds. The spirit is then created in a 100 litre copper still and bottled in only 160 bottle batches at 48% ABV. Wild Thyme’s process creates a wonderfully smooth and refreshingly light sip that is bound to delight gin drinkers everywhere! If that’s not enough convincing, they have also taken home a silver medal at the Gin Masters competition for the Ultra Premium gin category.

Smooth and slightly sweet, as if kissed by the maiden herself, strong juniper notes then transport you to a pine-fresh walk through the magnificent woodlands of Colonsay House, before the flavour develops into a delicate balance of spice, peppery notes and lemon sherbet; the latter lingering, as clean and refreshing as a dip in the clear blue waters of Kiloran Bay.

-Wild Thyme Spirits

So grab a bottle of Colonsay Gin for yourself just in time for summer!