Tag Archives: A Smith Bowman

John J Bowman Single Barrel – Review #37

John J Bowman Background

John J Bowman BottleJohn J Bowman Single Barrel is made at the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. John J Bowman was a 1770’s Kentucky settler and patriarch of the Bowman lineage that started the distillery in northern Virginia. Abraham Smith Bowman is the great, great nephew of John Bowman and opened his distillery in 1933. He was a farmer and what as was typical he would distill excess crops into a more shelf stable and profitable product as whiskey. In 1988 A. Smith Bowman Distillery opened at its current location and taking on this name and legacy. They began distilling in 1991.

What’s interesting about A. Smith Bowman is while they distill, they don’t do their own mash. Sazerac is their parent company, which is also parent for Buffalo Trace. In some corporate synergy, A. Smith Bowman gets distillate from Buffalo Trace and distills it a third time. Then they barrel it and age it in Virginia. Also interesting is the two distilleries are about the same latitude, but Fredericksburg is on the other side of the Appalachia Mountains and closer to the east coast. It’s said they use the Buffalo Trace #2 mash, so it’s interesting to see differences with that extra distillation and aging locations.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery makes three different Bourbons. There’s the Bowman Brothers Small Batch, John J Bowman Single Barrel, and an annual special release Abraham Bowman.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 50%. Buffalo Trace Mash #2 of about 13-15% Rye. Paid $49.

Aroma

Caramel. Some fruitiness of cherry, apple. Vanilla. Leather. Some nice charred oak.

Flavor

Buttery. Cherry syrup. Toffee and vanilla. Moderately rich sweetness with some charred oak. Cocoa. A little drying and mild spice in the finish. Water brings out more sweetness and a caramel, but this is nice right out of the bottle.

Overall

I’m impressed with both my bottles from A. Smith Bowman. They’re doing something right. John J Bowman is a pretty nice pour and I  thought Bowman Brothers was a particularly good deal. For me, John J Bowman is $20 more than Bowman Brothers and that might be a bit of a tough sell. That’s not a knock on John J Bowman, but just that Bowman Brothers might be under priced in my book. As I’m editing this I’m sipping on a glass debating the $20 thing. Yeah, I say it’s worth it.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.5/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

John J Bowman is a standard bourbon with a moderate rye. In this price range some other standard Bourbons worth checking out include Baker’s, Angel Envy, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Dickel 9 Year Barrel Selection. A little higher on the price range worth checking out is Blanton’s. You also can’t lose with the mentioned Bowman Brothers Small Batch.

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Bowman Brothers Small Batch – Review #29

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Background

Bowman Brothers Small Batch BottleBowman Brothers Small Batch from A. Smith Bowman Distillery is an interesting operation. They don’t make their own mash. They actually re-distill product from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace parent Sazerac owns the distillery, so the link is logical. The process used at A Smith Bowman means the product is triple distilled before it’s put into casks for aging in Fredericksburg Virginia. It seems like Bowman Brothers use Buffalo Trace #2 Mash, so this sort of extends my series of Bourbons using that mash recipe.

The distillery and Bourbon are named after the Bowman family. John J Bowman settled in Kentucky in 1770’s. His great, great nephew Abraham Smith Bowman operated a farm in northern Virginia in the 1920’s. He took his excess grain and built a distillery in 1933. The A. Smith Bowman Distillery is named after this distillery, although at a different place. A. Smith Bowman Distillery opened in 1988 and began its current distilling in the 1991.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery makes three different Bourbons. There’s the Bowman Brothers Small Batch, John J Bowman Single Barrel, and an annual special release Abraham Bowman.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 90-proof. Buffalo Trace Mash #2 of about 13-15% Rye. Paid $30 @ Michigan State Minimum Price.

Aroma

Fruity, Apples. Caramel. Corn Cinnamon. Light oak.

Flavor

Fruity apples, cinnamon and caramel. Sweet and soft. Some maple syrup. A little rye flavor with some of that minty-pine. Some light oak with mild astringency towards the end. A slight spice in the finish warms the mouth. Nicely put together.

Overall

This seems delicate. Soft and sweet. Not a lot of power in this one, nor does it finish strong. I’d like to see this at a higher proof because there’s not much harshness in this pour and it could really amp things up with no ill effects. This is pretty nice drinking.

I was curious how this compared to Elmer T Lee. Same mash and same proof, while this bottle has that extra distillation and is aged in a different location. I tasted them side by side and feel they’re pretty darn close. I’d be curious to hear what others think on that. Elmer T Lee I get more rye in the nose and a little more toffee. Bowman Brothers Small Batch seems lighter, sweeter, and less acetone. I’d give Elmer T Lee the edge, but for a few bucks less Bowman Brothers Small Batch seems a good buy. Especially good buy if Elmer T Lee is in short supply.

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.5/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

I classify Bowman Brothers Small Batch a standard bourbon with a moderate rye content. This is a big category with a number of great options around this price. Elmer T Lee, Russell’s Reserve 10 Small Batch, Evan Williams Single Barrel all are I think comparable. If you can’t find Bowman Brothers Small Batch or would like to compare it to something else, that should be a good start.

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