John J. Bowman Single Barrel

John J. Bowman Single Barrel is one of four bourbon offerings from the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  John J. Bowman was a 1770’s Kentucky frontiersman and the brother of Colonel Abraham Smith Bowman, who commander the 8th Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War.  In 1934, John J. Bowman's great, great nephew established a distillery on a plot of farmland in Reston, VA.  That man, Abram Smith Bowman, was a successful investor in Lexington, KY but turned to distilling upon the move to northern Virginia, where his ancestors once lived.  In 1988, A. Smith Bowman Distillery moved to its current location near downtown Fredericksburg.

A. Smith Bowman, like Buffalo Trace, is owned by Sazerac, and they get their juice for John J. Bowman Single Barrel from their brother in Frankfort, KY.  The twice-distilled Buffalo Trace white dog (mash bill #2) is shipped across the Appalachian mountains to VA where it is distilled for a third time.  A. Smith Bowman ages the whiskey in upright barrels, as opposed to laying the barrels horizontally, as most operations do.  The distillery also produces Bowman Brothers Small Batch and an annual special release named for John J.'s brother, Col. Abraham Bowman.

The A. Smith Bowman Distillery also produces Virginia Gentlemen (a younger version of the Bowman Brothers Small Batch), they make a vodka and a gin, and they source a damn good rum.  They'll begin making their own distillate for whiskey starting this year. 

John J. Bowman Single Barrel

A. Smith Bowman Distillery
100 proof
$54 at Frugal MacDoogal's in Fort Mill, SC

Color: Deep amber, hint of crimson.  

Nose: Full, floral, and creamy, the nose reflects vanilla, caramel, caramelized orange peel, smoky char, and some corn.  

Tasting Notes: Sweet brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and cocoa up front.  The smooth flavors are beautifully balanced by cinnamon, tobacco/cedar, dark cherry notes and a hot spicy finish. 

Overall: A. John J Bowman Single Barrel is about as good as bourbon gets for me.  It is complex, well balanced, delicious and comes in a cool bottle.  What else can you ask for?