Review: Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered Bourbon
Monica already kicked off our exploration of Nevada’s Smoke Wagon bourbons earlier this year with a look at its Small Batch. Today we’re moving up a tier and checking out the Uncut Unfiltered offering, a blend of high rye bourbons rumored to be between 4 and 10 years old, bottled at barrel strength without chill filtration in individually numbered batches. Like Small Batch, the bourbon here is sourced from Indiana’s MGP, but aging in the unique Nevada climate, in addition to careful blending, helps to differentiate these bourbons from some of their other sourced contemporaries. Per the website:
Blending vintages of our high rye mash bill to achieve this flavor profile at 115-116 plus proof was a very rewarding challenge for us. There is a delicate balance between creamy mouthfeel, tannins and sugars that comes into play that makes the end result magical. Older vintages have more evaporation which means a higher concentration of fats and sugars per ounce which gives them a nice creamy mouthfeel as well as caramel and honey goodness. They also have more tannins because alcohol has been in contact with the wood for longer. A lot of what some perceive as alcohol burn is actually a harshness due to tannins. This can counterbalance the benefit gained by the high concentration of lipid esters insulating your pallet from alcohol heat. There needs to be enough of the older bourbon for the oak flavors and mouthfeel, but also some younger ones to cut back on the tannins and bring in some delicate fruit and caramel flavors.
They certainly sound like they know how to blend a good bourbon. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Let’s taste!
The nose is initially punchy with big barrel notes that alternate between matchsticks and dark chocolate with the occasional, fleeting bit of dark cherry and flamed orange peel. As it opens, the oak softens considerably, allowing more toasted sugar and praline notes to emerge. The palate is oily with a generous, even heat. There’s a nice depth of flavor, with silky brown sugar and toffee notes that turn leathery and spice-filled into the mid-palate before giving way to brighter orange rock candy and clove. Unlike Monica’s experience with the Small Batch, the finish on this one is lengthy, with a slow regression of spice and a bit of lemon peel. Fun stuff.
114 proof. Reviewed: Batch #47.