Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Review: Smoke Wagon Malted Straight Rye Whiskey (Batch no. 11G)

Color (5%): Medium thinning. Hay and faint copper. 4/5

Nose (10%): That does have that beautiful single malt nose that I missed from Red Brick. Awesome chocolatey notes over the freshly cooked barley. A bit of pepperiness from the rye comes around, but it's mainly chocolate-forward, which I love. The alcohol doesn't burn as much as expected from something so high-proof. There is a nice creaminess through it. 9/10

Palate (20%): Wow, that is a lot of chocolate and overproof. There are better ideas for the day's first sip, but I'll adjust. Nice light caramel sweetness. There is a great creamy body. This is well-refined. The barley is definitely taking over from the rye side of this. I wouldn't guess this was a rye if I tasted this blind. But I love American single malts. 18/20

Finish (10%): That burn hits you first and last, but in the middle, there is a sweet, creamy milk chocolate. I want to pair this with a salty dessert. That would really make this shine. There's a slight undertone of spice of cinnamon and pepper. Medium long duration. Nice and clean relative to the heat. 8/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is quality stuff. It's been very well distilled. There's a great flavor coming from quality grains. I'm not getting a ton of aged character, but it obviously hung out in some wood with a decent char level but reasonable. They didn't overage it, and it's young enough. They landed in the sweet spot. This works great as an end-of-the-night slow sipper with some salted caramel chocolates on the side. I will be drinking this again. I promise you that. 27/30

Retry on Ice (25%): Ice really mutes the nose. The chocolate fades away, and some peppered honey pops out. The rye starts showing its face once those roasted flavors shrink. A lovely creamy finish is still mixed with soft milk chocolate, but that roasted bitter cocoa is gone. I want to try this on a big rock and watch it transform as I go. 23/25

Total Ranking: 89% Legendary, Amazing, Great, Good, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $74
Actual Price: $79

Conclusion: That 51:49 ratio confuses me. What's so important about being classified as a rye when you barely qualify. I can see a few rye elements coming through this whiskey, but it tastes like a single malt. It's quality stuff, misnamed. If you love porters, you will love this whiskey, so long as you can handle the strong stuff. I'm going to keep this bottle and share it with close friends. This is a special occasion sipper for me, and it likely merits discussion among enthusiasts. It's way better than the Uncut the Younger and arguably one of my favorite whiskeys I've tried so far this year. Definitely buy yourself a pour, or if you trust me, just grab a bottle. 

Fact Sheet:
51% Rye, 49% Barley
Distillery Location: Las Vegas, Nevada H&C Distilling Co
Bottled May 18, 2023
ABV: 57.92%

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