Nose: MGP/LDI style dry notes. Grassy, floral clove, light pepper, lemongrass, and mint (thanks for that astute note, Brian). This product is entering into that age neutral territory, where green grain notes have been pulled out, but before any considerable oak notes can really play a considerable role. The only sweet note a tannic dark chocolate.
There’s also that big LDI house style note that isn’t covered by my notes above. Hopefully, someone more observant than I will be able to eloquently explain what that flavor is a la “Beam yeast.” Almost like a wet cut grass.
Taste: Big wet grass flavors. Straw and an intense rye bitterness. Clove. Spicy, peppery rye notes blend into a strong oak oil that is masked in the nose. A sweet vodka-like flavor sneaks out if you look for it.
Finish: Unbalanced bitterness take over at the end of the flavor profile and the overall product gets a little tarnished at that point. This bitterness is hard to describe in terms of other foods. It’s big and overpowering. Oak tongue hits, the creep is pretty extreme as that weird, final note creeps over your whole mouth.
Balance: This is the best LDI rye I’ve ever had and defines what I am looking for going forward in looking for a 95% rye: appropriate proof, good age, decent price (this one should have been 10 dollars less and I’ve seen other SA single barrel offerings less). This bottle puts Smooth Ambler dead center on my radar and I’m looking forward to whatever they offer in the future. I’m confident that in the right barrel (or the right blend of appropriate barrels) will yield a Thomas H Handy quality LDI rye.
Stupid letter grade: B