|Nevada Distilling (sourced from MGP)
|Type & Region:
|72% corn, 18% rye, 10 barley
|NAS (rumored about 6 years)
|1.4/2.0 on the color scale (tawny)
About Smoke Wagon Small Batch
The whiskey world has been doing many creating and experimenting in the past few years. While I love that spirit of innovation and wild creativity, sometimes I just want to reach for a classic and enjoy a glass of bourbon. That might seem like blasphemy, but if your tastes run more toward the traditional, you’ll want to pay attention to Smoke Wagon Small Batch Bourbon, an exciting and delicious bourbon from Nevada Distilling, located in Las Vegas. This bourbon is made by mixing barrels of the company’s older stocks with barrels that have been aged for less time.
Unlike more traditional bourbons that undergo a chill filtering process to remove any unwanted flavors, this brand is non-chill filtered. This means that this brand of bourbon still retains its naturally occurring congeners.
It has a russet muscat color, resembling brown-violet. It forms thick short tears on the glass as it leaves lipstick smears on the side of the glass nice legs to follow with the slowly disappearing bead creating afterthoughts of standing at a record player with the light dimmed bringing back memories of hearing a Beatles song. Its tears are opposed to big thin tears which are formed from lower quality bourbons. Smaller ones mean a better appearance in cocktails.
On the nose, it has a sweet yet spicy opening that becomes more complex as you drink, providing for an easy introduction for novices and a satisfying experience for connoisseurs. You also get some lovely vanilla bean notes, although it’s very restrained and doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the aromas. The vanilla and caramel flavors are quite present, with a bit of oak in the background. Lightly peppered, sweet scents mingle with warm rye spice. With a little alcohol, this aroma is both stimulating and soothing.
Light creamy caramel and dry oak tasting notes take the front seats in the sip. The taste begins with a blend of exotic spices, then quickly moves to a smoother, more full-bodied flavor. Green peppercorns and oak combined with vanilla notes swirl through the palate. The light, sweet notes help to temper the intense spicy flavors in the sip, making it bold and fiery without being overpowering. Like a playful bull in a china shop, the taste of this bourbon was able to come through and meld nicely with the spice and sweet notes. The sweetness also creates a great flavor combination with fresh mint and makes for a good base cocktail.
Once dry oak and leather are overtaken by a burst of rye spice, the scent becomes brighter. A splash of water reveals a rye-led profile: sweet fruit and softwood, braced by a fresh, green aroma. As you sip this complex bourbon, the fiery spice lingers in your mouth. The aftertaste, at first, is sweet vanilla and caramel, but then the flavor changes to a woody spice that fades away quickly. The end of the sip is a nice way to finish this spicy drink and brings the flavors full circle. This bourbon is an easy drinker that I would highly recommend with food or just enjoying on its own.
Smoke Wagon Small Batch Alternatives
When it concerns your favorite drink, you do not want to settle for something less than the best. This Smoke Wagon bourbon is a true gift from above, but there are alternatives that are most definitely worth the time and effort to try.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 5 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
In a whiskey industry filled with over-the-top marketing and clever names, Smooth Ambler Old Scout is one of the few distilleries that sticks to the basics. After quietly releasing the Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon in 2016, the folks at Smooth Ambler have followed up with a unique cask strength edition of the single barrel. This cask strength version is bottled at a higher proof than the standard bottle, leading to increased flavor intensity compared to lower ABV bottles.
The nose has a mellow and inviting aroma with soft, sweet, and gentle notes of caramel and roasted nuts mixed in with a little citrus and flowery aromas. A few minutes later the nose becomes maltier with notes of coffee and toasted brown sugar becoming more pronounced while the citrus fades a bit.
The complexity of this bourbon includes its honey taste, citrus and vanilla undertones, caraway seed aftertaste, and fennel overtone. It also has been aged for at least five years in charred white American oak.
Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon
Recently, in 2020, Jim Beam released Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon, which is a new addition to the popular brand. Those familiar with the iconic line of bourbons shouldn’t be surprised by the label; an older Knob Creek label has been around for years.
Its aroma is dark and creamy. It’s like a rich, complex coffee topped with warm caramel and vanilla. Delicate notes of cherry add sweetness and balance, while baked apple chips are deliciously tart and tangy. There’s also a hint of cinnamon and chocolate, with a background of roasted oak, clove, licorice, and tobacco.
It has a lot of apple flavor, but I can taste some caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon, too. It’s like a caramel apple when you get it once in a while, but it also has toasted nuts and a mild dryness. It is excellent by itself or with harder cheeses, such as Manchego.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon
It’s Wild Turkey’s year-round cask strength bourbon release, but you might know it better by its nickname “Rare Breed.” As the third brainchild of Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, Rare Breed is a column stilled, high-rye mash bill bourbon bottled at 110 proof.
It has a dark, sweet, and oaky aroma that builds with each second. The aroma hits you immediately as ripe, sweet cherries and bright candied citrus. Then the dry oak dances in, adding a touch of spice that makes room for vanillin, maple syrup, and dark brown sugar.
It starts with rich, almost cloying, sweetness (like caramel and vanilla), but no sooner has that hit your mouth than a wave of spice washes it away (like cinnamon); then there’s an explosion of oak and fruit and licorice.
Smoke Wagon Small Batch packs a lot of flavor into its lower-proof Straight Bourbon brother, but it doesn’t leave the fire of youth in its wake. The spice level is just right and provides a lasting complexity. Those who have a high tolerance for spice will notice the boldness of the cinnamon flavor; however, those with a lower tolerance may find it a bit overpowering. If you’re looking for a bourbon that doesn’t carry an age statement or well-known brand name recognition but still stands out among the crowd, BSmoke Wagon may be the right choice.
Is Smoke Wagon Small Batch Worth the Money?
is a bourbon for the masses. It’s reasonably priced and it’s worth the money. Every glass that I tried of Smoke Wagon was an easy drinker, with a pleasant burn down my throat. Every time, I reveled at the complex flavor it imparted on me as it left its warm trail behind.
How Much Is a Bottle of Smoke Wagon Small Batch?
On average its cost is $70 per bottle but is well worth it. It might be somewhat accessible to the average enthusiast. I was lucky enough to buy a bottle from my local shop.
Does Smoke Wagon Small Batch Increase in Value?
This bourbon never goes bad, it just gets better and better. This is one of the reasons why this unique product increases in value as other bourbons. The fact that this bourbon will increase in value means you can feel good about every sip knowing it will pay for itself eventually. Surely, you need to store it properly, but nobody can agree on how much it goes up or how long after bottling the value increase will kick in.
Is Smoke Wagon Small Batch Better Than Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon?
It may be unexpected to some, however, I’ve tasted both of these bourbons and find that Smoke Wagon bourbon is much better than Wild Turkey Rare Breed. If you try Smoke Wagon, I promise you will be back for more. The only thing about Wild Turkey bourbon is that you can buy it at any store. This is one of some of the most affordable brands that you can find.
What Makes Smoke Wagon Small Batch Special?
When it comes to their Small Batch Bourbon, the company ages their product in the dry heat of Nevada, giving the whiskey a little bit of extra spice. Producing the flavor you expect from Bourbon, this whiskey is smooth and creamy without a heavy burn. This is perfect for drinking it straight and for crafting cocktails.