There are certain brands, and personalities, that come in like a house on fire and put the bourbon world on notice that they are going to be a player. Aaron Chepenik, co-founder and master blender at Nevada H & C Distilling, is one of those people. From his transparency in explaining exactly what sourced product is going in his blends, to his giveaways, Aaron is one of the more recognizable personalities in the bourbon community. While he may be the face of Smoke Wagon bourbon, the fact remains that if the product that was being put out by NHCD wasn’t good, there wouldn’t be an Aaron.
With that in mind, today we are going to look at Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered. As with all the Smoke Wagon releases, UCUF is a blend of sourced whiskies with a wide range of ages. This particular bottle, Batch 27, was bottled November 18, 2020. On side note, that bottles used for Smoke Wagon are spectacular and have become one of the more recognizable bottles in the bourbon arena.
Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered
Distillery: MGP, blended and bottled by Nevada H & C Distilling
Mash Bill: 60% Corn, 36% Rye 4% Malted Barley
Sample: Neat, in a Glencairn, breathing for 5 minutes
Appearance: First thing I l thought of was the ring in the middle of a peach where the pit sits. A reddish-copper color. Very slow forming legs run tantalizingly slow down the inside of the glass. This is indicative of a non-filtered bourbon as there is a higher viscosity level vs. filtered products.
Nose: First thing I notice is the lack of ethanol vapor that I was expecting given the proof. This bottle has been open for a while, but even with that, I was expecting an initial ethanol hit. Not there. Aged leather, rye grain and gingerbread with raisins create a fantastic nose that has me wanting to get right to the sip. 5 out of 5 bullets.
Palate: A creamy mouthfeel opens things up to a surprisingly fruit forward palate. The raisin that was on the nose flips over to somewhere between a ripe green grape and the aforementioned raisin. Mid-palate there some summer fruit notes of blackberry and raspberry. Some nuttiness comes in on the back. Overall, an enjoyable sip. The flavors take some digging to pick up and are a bit “mashed” together, so it doesn’t fully develop as much as it comes all together. That being said, this is still a very flavorful drink and the lack of layers is what stops it from getting 5 out of 5. 4 out 5 bullets.
Finish: Some tannins come early that give a dry finish that I happen to love. I can actually feel the spice build up from the side of my tongue as they take over my mouth and lips. Great baking spices like clove, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg are the winners on this long finish. When it does finally trail off, some wonderful oak lingers to remind you that you just had a very nice sip of bourbon, and you better get some more. 5 out of 5 bullets.
Overall: For the sake of honesty, Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered is on of my favorite bourbons. From nose to finish, it has everything I am looking for save for how the palate develops. It is packed with flavors, but they are all blended together, where I tend to prefer layers of flavors that develop progressively. This is pure nitpicking on my part and my personal preference. I will say that everyone I have given a sample or pour of SW UCUF when they have never tried it before, are absolutely floored with the quality. Remember, Aaron is constantly blending different barrels for each batch he releases, so there are going to be some differences. That being said, I have had several different batches and they have never failed to deliver. This absolutely needs to be on your shelf. 4.5 bullets out of 5.