Sample Mountain Week 24: Father's Day MGP Tasting

For Week 24 of Sample Mountain I am back to older MGP bourbons specifically with some Smoke Wagon for Father’s Day. I got most of my early Smoke Wagon bottles and almost all of my Desert Jewel from my dad running it back from work trips to Las Vegas so this felt fitting. For this week’s “Buy a bottle?” we’ll be assuming you are in the market for older MGP and aren’t paying retail price. I tasted these blind to pick a winner then poured the rest of the samples and sat down to write more detailed tasting notes.


Old Pepper 11 Year Single Barrel

Age: 11 years

Proof: 112 proof


Nose: Big and bold with rich oak and sweet brown sugar but enough spice to balance it.

Taste: More brown sugar and more oak with vanilla and rye spice underneath. Nice mouthfeel but I was expecting more for the proof.

Finish: Long and slightly bitter with lots of oak and a little warm spice.

Buy a bottle? No - dubious at retail even given Redemption 10 Year High Rye

Smoke Wagon Private Barrel New Jersey Bourbon and Yacht Club

Age: 13 years

Proof: 108.4

Barrel: #5636


Nose: Softer than the Old Pepper with brown sugar, rye spice and oak.

Taste: Brown sugar and rich oak take the lead with some barrel char, rye spice, vanilla extract and a bit of mint. Excellent, oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Long and slightly dry but in a good way with lots of oak and a good amount of baking spice and a bit of sweetness.

Buy a bottle? Yes


The NJBYC Smoke Wagon was great. I don’t think it stood out compared to the other 2 13 year Private Barrels I’ve had (Austin Dead Liver Society and one from Dallas) but it’s still top tier older MGP. The Old Pepper was very good but definitely not worth tracking down vs grabbing a Redemption 10 Year High Rye or even a Remus Repeal.


TL;DR: The Smoke Wagon is a winner. The Old Pepper is good but so is most older MGP.


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