Friday, March 24, 2023

Review: Smoke Wagon Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Color (5%):  light caramel to golden hay hues. Medium thinning at the edges. 4/5

Nose (10%): Nice toasted aroma. Lovely punchy oak, light sweetness, not too much alcohol burn in the nose. It feels like a heavy age statement, though going off the color, it's relatively young. 8/10

Palate (20%): Toffee caramel sugars immediately hit the tip of the tongue and wash over, bringing warm spices and soft vanilla. Much less toasted oak than comes through on the nose. Mild warming baking spices, nutmeg. Very clean mouthfeel, not quite creamy, but certainly not thin. It's not oily despite being non-chill filtered, but there's certainly a viscosity. Complex and elegant, I like it. 19/20

Finish (10%): The finish is quite mild. As it passes down the throat, a swift punch of spice fades quickly and lingers for quite a long duration. It must be that nice rye content. 8/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is a very layered and nuanced whiskey. The flavor changes in the mouth from beginning to end. You can see why it has earned so many accolades and is sought after in the whiskey-collecting community. The other bourbons in the Smoke Wagon's portfolio are higher proof, but this does not come off as muted or over-diluted. This is an excellent sipping whiskey. I first had this at a lunch over Texas barbeque, which was exquisite. Given the scarcity of the product, I may have had some rose-tinted glasses on, but my family agreed on its quality without any background information. 27/30

Retry on Ice (25%): Ice brings out the sweetness on the nose and masks many of the roasted flavors I was getting on my initial impression. Ice mutes the flavor a little bit, but not by much. It didn't really need softening any particular harsh edges. The finish stays punchy. 23/25

Total Ranking: 89% Legendary, AmazingGreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $48
Actual Price: $30

Conclusion: This is an excellent bourbon for the price point. By my standards, it beats out common brands at similar price points, like Bulleit. An irony of this brand is that it's sought after by hoarders and collectors. Its slogan, "Bibamus Moriendum Est," means "Drink, for we must die." Yet, so many bottles from this award-winning distillery will gather dust on some collector's shelf. Drink this whiskey. Consider that an order.

Fact Sheet: 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Distillery Location: Las Vegas, Nevada H&C Distilling Co.
ABV: 46.25%

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