Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon

Yesterday was my birthday. As birthdays that end in zero are usually considered markers of a sort in your life, I took the opportunity to do something that I don’t believe I’ve ever done before. I went out with a friend to celebrate my birthday. 

I’m a typical Midwestern person with a good work ethic, I was married early in my adulthood, I had a kid early on and I went to college with all of this being in place. As such the opportunities for going out and celebrating another trip around the sun didn’t come up as often as they do for other people. I’d normally spend the evening with my wife, my kid or various other parts of my family. 

Last night though, I did something fun. I went to a local bar that is basically a late 1980s-early 90s video game arcade with the addition of about 30 taps of craft beer. I played Punch-Out. I played Donkey Kong. I played Mortal Kombat. I played Pinball. I played Dig-Dug for goodness sake. And it was glorious. So many people. So much fun. It was a good birthday. 

People make a big deal of age. Some people think that the number of times a person has travelled around the sun makes them somehow superior to those that haven’t. And some people are just the opposite, thinking that the number of trips someone has made somehow disqualifies them from being superior in any way. In either of these cases age is somehow being equated with quality. 

Humans seem to be especially good at this. We often take complex situations and try to boil it down to just one variable. We do this with our weight, our health, how we think the world works and who we determine to be a good person. We also do it with whiskey. We’ve been conditioned to think that the number of years that a whiskey happened to be in a barrel somehow equates to the quality of the whiskey. As usual, this is only one part of a complex picture. 

Is there an appreciable difference between something that spent 10 years in a barrel and something that spent 11? Sometimes. Does that mean we should always buy the 11 over the 10? Probably not. We should look at all the factors and make sure that the added price (because there is almost always added price) is worth it. Is it a single barrel as opposed to a batched product? Does the company have a good track record putting out exceptional products? Is the price right? These are just a few of the questions that we should consider before deciding what to buy.

They are the same questions that led me to purchase an Old Scout 11 year old Single Barrel bourbon over the normal Old Scout 10 year old bourbon. Smooth Ambler has a track record of putting out good product. I trust that a Single Barrel with their name on it will be worth being sold on it’s own. It was only $5 more than the normal Old Scout. It also happened that this was another year older, which in light of many factors I considered, seemed like a good thing.

Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon

Purchase Info: $59.99 for a 750mL bottle at South Lyndale Liquors, Minneapolis, MN

Details: 11 years old. 51.7% ABV. Distilled in Indiana. Bottled in West Virginia

Nose: Floral and herbal up front with toffee and oak coming after.

Mouth: Hot and sweet with toffee, oak, cinnamon red hots and herbal notes.

Finish: Warm and long with lingering toffee, oak and herbal notes. 

Heart because I love this

Thoughts: I have never been disappointed by a bottle from Smooth Ambler’s Old Scout. This single barrel continues that trend. This reminds me more of a 1960s era I.W. Harper that I’ve had than it does most things from today. Just fabulous!

I’ll be traveling next week to BourbonFest in Bardstown Kentucky so there won’t be any posts, but be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for updates. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!