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An Accidental Afternoon at Smooth Ambler Spirits

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Smooth Ambler is a beautiful enigma in the world of craft bourbon distilling, because they offer not only amazing palates in choosing and blending sourced bourbon but also the drive and ambition to craft whiskey from grain to glass in the heart of West Virginia. On a recent vacation we stumbled upon the SAS distillery simply because we happened to exit the highway on the same exit as the distillery, stuck around town until the tasting room opened, and went over for the visit. My visit to Smooth Ambler Spirits was the happiest accident I think I’ll ever experience, and …

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Sour or Sweet: The Father of Modern Bourbon

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The last time you found yourself at Ye Olde Liquor Store, your eyes might have wandered to the bottom shelf where labels are stuffed with text emphasizing the quality and heritage of the bourbon, proudly boasting, “SOUR MASH WHISKEY.” You might have wondered what that even meant as you settled up for your bottle of Evan Williams, and why very few other bourbon brands boast this quality of their whiskey so proudly. The early nineteenth century was a cluster of a great variety of bourbon quality, from excellent products to worse-than-rotgut to everything in-between. Distillers, including commercial and farmer-distillers, usually …

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Bottled In Bond: A Brief History

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During your last visit to Ye Olde Liquor Store, you might have noticed a couple of bottom-shelf bottles sporting a fancy, old-script tag: “Bottled-in-Bond.”  The bottle might claim that the whiskey is exceptional, full of heritage, made according to an old, forgotten tradition.  Companies such as Heaven Hill, Barton, and Jim Beam have revitalized the century-old tradition of bottling in bond, but what brought this century-old practice back into the forefront? Fly back in time to the late 19th century, when the whiskey market was more unregulated than you could even imagine.  A rivalry for the record books emerged between …