Whiskey Review: Smoke Wagon Small Batch

January 19, 2021


Complex and spicy right out of the bottle, with the ability to shine through no matter what cocktail it’s put in.

Smoke Wagon is a brand out of Nevada H&C Distilling Company in Las Vegas, Nevada. They take sourced MGP high rye bourbons, break them down and bottle them into a handful of different products. H&C buys their barrels from the MGP, rack them and advertise them as a rack house whiskey. None of the whiskey is actually aged in Nevada; I guess this is because the dry heat from the desert would cause issues with the wood from the barrel. I feel the need to note that I am not against whiskey from an MGP; it’s just not really my favorite thing. This review is based on my opinion, and I am not an expert in the field.  

From what I understand, their Small Batch whiskey is more their entry-level whiskey. Their small batch combines 4 and 5-year MGP bourbon, bringing down the proof to 100. This wasn’t a rare find whiskey for me; I just wasn’t looking in the right places for it. 

All the Smoke Wagon bottles are beautiful; they are dark, very well designed, and have a wine bottle appeal to them. 

Going into the whiskey, I was hoping that it didn’t live up to my typical, “if the bottle is pretty, it’s overcompensating for what’s inside” thought process.

The nose brings a nice oaky balance of dried fruits, and rye.

Right away on the nose, the rye reached out and grabbed me, and it was spicy. I had to let it sit a second and take a second sniff. I picked burnt brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and wood that I feel I typically find MGP sourced bourbons combined with the rye. I picked up what I would say is a smell that I would get if I were to take Christmas trees and infuse them into hot apple cider. 

It was sweet, but it also very pungent, not something that I was expecting.  

On my first sip, I picked up what I would compare to the spicy, cinnamon taste of a typical cinnamon whiskey. Closer to Jim Beam fire, more so than Fireball. That spicy was almost instantly replaced with a lump of sweet brown sugar or apple pie spice. I felt that the oaky, smoky taste that I usually pick up on with MGP bourbons was almost non-existent; I tasted very little of the barrel.  

Overall, not one of my favorites, but I was definitely not let down by Smoke Wagon Small Batch.

It finished strong with the heavy rye and Christmas tree infused hot cider. The spice and heavy rye notes were brought together and complemented by the sweet brown sugar notes that I picked up on the palate. It finished a lot stronger and more solid than I expected to finish. Overall, not one of my favorites, but I was definitely not let down by Smoke Wagon Small Batch. It’s got me curious to try some of the others.