So, it's entirely possible that I've tried more Old Scout and Very Old Scout products than anyone not named John Little. For those who aren't completely aware, to this point every drop of Old Scout and Very Old Scout has been distilled at DSP-IN-1, LDI/MGPI. There are three recipes spread across the different releases. They break down like this:
75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley - Old Scout Ten, Very Old Scout 11-14-19, any private barrel selection you see that is 10 years or older.
60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley - Old Scout 5-8 year old, Old Scout Single Barrel Cask Strength
95% rye, 5% malted barley - Old Scout Rye, Old Scout Rye Single Barrel Cask Strength
Standard batches are usually made with 5 barrels. If I had to describe it to someone completely uninitiated, I would probably say that it's somewhere in between Four Roses SB and WT 101, but it's still its own animal. And the 7 year now obviously tastes a good bit different than the 5 year did when it debuted. As I understand it the MGPI bulk program is done (at least for now) and the stock that Smooth Ambler has on hand is what it is. The product will continue to progress in age statements as the stocks mature.
As alluded to earlier, I did conduct a private barrel selection over the holidays for my group, the Appalachian Whiskey Society. We were able to select a barrel that falls outside of the guidelines above, a 7 year old expression of the 75/21/4 recipe. It came out just below my "sweet-spot" proof of 114, at 112.8. It is deliciously drinkable straight from the bottle (or use a glass if you're like that ) and is full of stewed red fruits and warming cinnamon. The nose hit me with candy apples fresh from a carnival stand. During the selection it really was love at first sight, and while we weighed the virtues of many different barrels, I knew long before we finished what I wanted.
I am not the only member involved in selecting Old Scout barrels though, so hopefully someone else will chime in with some of their experiences. I will have a few bottles of this with me to share at the Gazebo this year.
Other excellent private selections are the Single Barrel 92 (from Wisconsin? Somebody bring me one in April!) the Kenwood Liquors 8 year (seriously delicious. Have one open now), and the TPS 10 year barrel 362 and 363. John sent me home from our selection with a box full of samples, so I've tasted nearly 20 different single barrels from their stocks, and the bottom line is that they were all good. I wouldn't necessarily want to put my name on all of them, but purchasing an Old Scout product is a comfortable bet for me knowing the average quality of their stock.
Here are the open bottles I have at the moment:
And here's the whole family:
I included Faultline on the side because it is also a member of the Old Scout family. It is a special blend created exclusively for K&L in California. It is made from both the 60% and 75% recipes at 7 and 10 years respectively. I would put it beside the 14 and 19 VOS and select private barrels as the best product Smooth Ambler has bottled. Anyone with access to a bottle should try obtain one. They run around $40 and it's just absolutely drinkable. Wonderful stuff.