With the sheer volume of bottles put out by Smoke Wagon in 2019 and 2020, especially the 10+ year old bourbon that they have access to, we’re witnessing the latest and perhaps last company that will have access to this much (old) MGP bourbon. MGP seemingly has run out. Granted, Belle Meade seems to be doing fine for the most part, but think about it, what other company out there has had access to enough barrels to provide continuous releases for over 365 days?So when Smoke Wagon puts out a large amount of single barrels ranging anywhere from 10 to 12 years old, it made getting one irresistible.
This bottle today is from Total Wine in Las Vegas and is aged for 10 years and comes in at 115 proof. It was slightly under $100, which is right on point for MGP’s bourbon prices which typically fetch $10 for every year aged. But enough about the specs, what does this taste like? Is this truly worth the upcharge in price over another great product that Smoke Wagon puts out: Desert Jewel? If you haven’t read my review on that label, check it out first before you read how this one ends. But if you have, then let’s dive right in and see what this one is all about. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: The nose is fantastic with lots of fruit notes like pear, apple and even a fresh baked cherry pie. The sweetness doesn’t stop there as molasses and fresh baked Cinnabon Rolls are basically intoxicating to remove your nose from. The amount of baked goods is off the charts, but it also still exhibits a decent amount of oak throughout. This barrel was pulled at exactly the right time.
Palate: Chocolate cherry cordials make their impressive opening. It’s not everyday that a bourbon gives you that note. But more fruits follow from the nose as I’m tasting a juicy Bartlett pear, mint/black tea, and candy-bar nougat. There’s lots of depth here too as pipe tobacco gives it some aged character. Flakes of black pepper flare up and die down quickly with every sip. It’s not exactly the same as a pleasant persistent black pepper heat/spice of other bourbons, but this is seems odd because just as you’re really concentrating on a fruit flavor, it pops up to kind of spoil it.
Finish: The finish has sweetness for days. There are Chocolate dipped oranges, apple strudel, cinnamon, citrus zest and some peppercorn pings here and there. The oak is well integrated and not bitter or drying at all.
This Single Barrel was excellent in every way, but you’ll notice that I rated it a tenth of a point lower than Desert Jewel. I don’t know why, but whereas Desert Jewel was essentially flawless this single barrel had that odd spice flare up on the palate that wasn’t intrusive, but did showcase the one small flaw in the full suit of MGP’s armor.
I would certainly never turn down any single barrel of Smoke Wagon bourbon and I don’t think you should either based on this review. Their bourbon has always been a sure-thing in my opinion. I’m happy that I own it and would highly recommend you buy it now if you see it for $100 or less.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.