Some of the best bourbons I have tasted have been Private Barrel Selections. This Dry 85 Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 Year Single Barrel may be the best.
Dry 85 Bourbon Bar, in Annapolis, MD and open for a little over two years has had six different private barrel selections for sale. These are selected by the owner Brian Bolter. All have been superb. Five are still on the menu at least by the pour.
Smooth Ambler sources its oldest whiskey from MGPI in Indiana while their own whiskies age. They make no bones about that and it is very much respected. If you have tried the Smooth Ambler Old Scout you recognize the fact that the folks at Smooth Ambler know how to get some great sourced bourbon.
Recently, while at WhiskyFest DC, I had the privilege to meet Mr. Bolter, talk about his bar and rave about his Smooth Ambler private selection. Brian was enthusiastic about his visit to Smooth Ambler and his experience with John Foster, the Director of Sales. Brian said that Mr. Foster took them through the rack house, drilling pour holes in the barrel heads, filling a tasting glass, stopping the flow, jamming in a wood plug, and hammering it flush.
Brian told me that, in his opinion, the 10 year, low rye barrels were absolutely the best. He said Mr. Foster had to excuse himself and left the Dry 85 team with the drill, wood plugs, and hammer for additional tasting. That led to the selection of what is now the Dry 85 Smooth Ambler Private Selection.
Can you imagine going through a bourbon rack house and tasting like that?
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 Year Single Barrel
Name: Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 Year Single Barrel
Proof: 97.4 proof / 48.7% ABV
Age: 10 years
How I Drank It: Neat, in a rocks glass at Dry 85.
Nose: Flowering fruit trees | Very floral | Honey | Vanilla
First Sip: Honey. A white chocolate candy with orange filling. One of the sweetest bourbons I have tasted.
The Burn: A very creamy bourbon. The burn is honey and oranges, coating the mouth. This is a low rye bourbon. Not a lot of spice, just creamy goodness. Satisfying from start to finish. The sweetness lingers on the tongue.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: Definitely neat. A bourbon to be savored. It is, as Dry 85 describes, “nectar. “
Share With: Good friends— who want to experience a great bourbon bar. Dry 85 is the only place you can taste this one now. While they will sell their private selections by the bottle if they still have enough, I got there a little too late to get a bottle of this.
Worth The Price: This was $12 a pour in the bar. Worth a whole lot more. Before they ran out of bottles to sell for carry out they were $60. It is worth the experience by far.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Dry 85 is worth the trip whether this is still on the menu or not. If you have the chance to visit and have a pour…by all means do so.
Lee’s bourbon journey started with one mistaken gulp of bourbon and coke as an eight-year-old. While bourbon was always part of his life, Lee followed a beer, wine path for the most part until a bartender poured him a taste of Buffalo Trace about ten years ago. It was at that point Lee’s love of bourbon really took off. Not only does Lee enjoy a good pour of bourbon but he is more than willing and excited to talk about it. Lee believes that bourbon, and for that matter all spirits, is enhanced by the experience of good company, good conversation and good bars. The combination leads to great stories. Say hi to him when you see him. Lee lives in Leesburg, VA, with his wife, best friend, and drinking partner, Patti. You might find her having a bourbon as well. Both Lee and Patti like to read mystery thrillers and travel. Most likely the travel leads to visits to new bars. Read Lee's full profile.