John Little calls himself an idiot, a fool, naive and a number of other admonishments before making his point: “I didn’t think we needed 10,000 barrels of the stuff at the time — I didn’t think we’d sell through quickly enough,” he said. Little, the Master Distiller at West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler distillery, was referencing bourbon he purchased from the prolific spirit makers at MGP; a 99 proof, high-rye mashbill whiskey Smooth Ambler sold under the name Old Scout. He leaned back in his chair and glared at the ceiling, spinning a finger around the rim of a tasting glass. Little bent his neck down and nosed the glass. “God I wish we bought those barrels, but we won’t make that mistake again,” he laughed.
Back on liquor store shelves this fall, Old Scout 99 is a non-chill-filtered, approximately 5-year-old, medium-high proof bourbon sourced from the same distillery and made with the same mashbill (60 percent corn, 36 percent rye and 4 percent malted barley) as the original Old Scout. Released eight years ago at $40, the 2012 release was a hit with whiskey enthusiasts looking for higher proof, higher rye bourbons that didn’t come with bloated price tags. The distillery sold through their entire cache of it in four years, leaving it off shelves since 2016.
Today’s Old Scout is virtually the same, but $5 more expensive. It will be available in limited batches at spirit retailers, restaurants and bars this fall.
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