A Day at Smooth Ambler

Enjoy this post by Maura Johnson, Visit Southern WV, about the experience she and Becky Satterfield had bottling at Smooth Ambler! 

It all started off with a Facebook post asking for volunteers to help bottle Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon. “Come put your name on some bottles! We will feed you lunch and give you a shirt.”

Sold! So we arrived at the distillery around 10 a.m., not really knowing what to expect. We were eager to see how this whole bottling thing worked.

Our first task, which appeared super easy, was preparing the labels for the bottles. Write the date and batch number and initial every sticker. This was an easy job for the first 30minutes, then I realized I had drifted into la-la land and messed up about 10 stickers, and I had to go back and fix them (Shh, don’t tell). I fixed my last sticker just before we were called to start bottling.

Now I am a little worried: what are they going to have us do? I had a hard time with those stickers!


Old Scout Bourbon Whiskey #visitwv

We walk into the distillery. All of the Smooth Ambler Spirits are produced in a magnificent 650-liter Christian Carl Pot Still and 350-gallon Vendome Still. Vodka, Whiskey, Gin and more.

I am not really sure how I thought those little bottles got the way they were, but I was about learn. To help make things go in an orderly fashion, they set up stations:

  •  Check the weight of the bottles, sanitize, and fill them.
  •  Cork them.
  •  Place plastic caps on top of the corks.
  • Use what looked like a blow dryer to seal the bottle.
  •  Roll the Old Scout Bourbon Whiskey labels on.
  •  Dress the bottle, putting the ribbon and the Smooth Ambler sealing sticker on the neck.
  •  Inspect the bottles to make sure all of the above was completed and in the correct spots.

Everything had to be lined up correctly, or it would not pass. The bottles were wiped off and placed in the box to ship,
and then you repeat.

I know you’re thinking all of this might not sound like a big deal, but it was hard work! It was all done by hand,
with only a few machines to help. Having someone at every station to do their part was very important.

I felt like the “Laverne & Shirley” episode where they could not keep up, except it was a bourbon and not beer. We bottled for hours and hours and still, when I looked at how much was left, I thought I was not going to make it. One bottle passes through so many hands just to make a finished product.

But the finished product really was something to be proud of. It also gave me a greater appreciation when I go to the store and look at the different bottling designs. I now don’t just rip into a bottle of whatever I am drinking. I take my sweet time, and appreciate the hard work that went into that bottle.

The Smooth Ambler Distillery bottling experience was fun. You are greeted by their great staff, who make you feel at home.  They have a tasting room, and you can go on a tour, or help them when they have these bottling parties (which are posted on the Smooth Ambler Facebook page).

Oh, and ladies, they even have a little store. Try the Blueberry Vodka Cardinals. Yum!

Smooth Ambler now has the assistance of a new bottling machine that will cut out some of the manual labor. We
can’t wait to go back and see the difference it makes.

Thanks, Smooth Ambler, for allowing us to bottle with you!

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