The A. Smith Bowman distillery is micro distillery out of Fairfax, Virginia and is owned by the New Orleans based Sazerac Company, whose holdings also include the Buffalo Trace and 1792 Barton Distillery. For a long time the Bowman distillery was a one brand distillery producing Virginia Gentleman bourbon. Then it started producing the Bowman line of bourbon which include a 90 proof small batch(the one being reviewed), 100 proof single barrel and limited barrel proof small batch. The distillate used in the Bowman line of bourbon comes from the Buffalo Trace distillery and then is distilled again in the Bowman distillery’s massive 1700 gallon pot still for an overall triple distilled Virginia whiskey.
Back in February of this year the A. Smith Bowman family suffered a tragic loss when master distiller Truman Cox passed away, sending shock waves across the whiskey world. John Hansell, editor of Whiskey Advocate, wrote a touching piece on Mr. Cox on his blog. Now to review the legacy left behind by Truman Cox.
Appearance: Deep amber with thin slow-moving legs
Nose: Right away this hits me with an almost cognac-like aroma. Sweet brown sugar fills the nose along with maple and caramel. Nice hints of rye begin to appear as well as a beautiful note of leather. The sweet cherry notes open up with more air time. An overall quality bouquet with very nice dominating sweet notes.
Palate: The heat hits first going a bit rogue. The rye shines through nicely though along with some other spice flavors. There is flashes of sweetness but not as much as I was expecting from the nose. Some maple on the front end along with some honey notes mixed in there. The mouth feel is on the thin side and the finish is surprisingly dry leaving behind notes of rye, vanilla and light oak. The finish is moderate in length.
Overall: I have passed this beautiful bottle with its wooden top and faux tax stamp on the shelves of my local liquor store countless times. I finally decided to pick it up for the purpose of reviewing here. I can say that while this is a good bourbon it is unfortunately lacking in a few areas. The nose is deliciously sweet but the palate while touching on some quality flavors is not as balanced as I would like. While initially you get hit with that roaming alcohol heat it lacks a certain level of flavor intensity. It definitely has some high points though like its nice dose of rye (I assume this is Buffalo Trace’s #2 mash bill, I could be wrong though) and its rich sweet bouquet. Perhaps a bit more time in the barrel would give it more complexity and balance but as it stands it is a good whiskey that I know could do more.
Rating: 83 / * * *S