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Review: A. Smith Bowman Virginia Bourbons – Bowman Brothers Small Batch and John J. Bowman Single Barrel

bowman brothers small batchYes Virginia, they do make whiskey in, uh, Virginia.

A. Smith Bowman is a boutique bottling now owned by Buffalo Trace parent company Sazerac. It was previously sold with very limited regional availability, but now this unique whiskey, made in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is getting broader distribution that currently totals 17 states (sorry Mississippi!). We were fortunate enough to nab two of the three whiskey expressions it currently has on offer — though oddly, none of the three actually says “A. Smith Bowman” exactly in those words on the label, so bear that in mind if you go on the hunt for a bottle. (The company also makes rum, vodka, and gin.)

Don’t be afraid of Virginia, purists. These are Bourbons made in the accepted, proper way, with a traditional copper pot still, triple distilled. No fancy finishes or other trickery. No age statements are provided on the bottles.

Thoughts on both whiskeys tasted follow.

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Ample applesauce on the nose, with cinnamon notes. On the body, vanilla — slightly saccharine in its sweetness — pours forth, alongside some toasty wood notes that offer balance. Hints of mint throughout. The apple notes come back along on the finish. Overall: Nice body, very pleasant and easy to sip on, as long as you’re ready for a whole lot of fruit. 90 proof. A- / $33  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey – More wood, more vanilla on the nose. Almost chocolatey. The body offers classic, big Bourbon flavor, a well-crafted melange of wood, cocoa powder, rich vanilla, and somewhat less fruit. Here, it’s not apples but rather figs which make a curious — and wholly welcome — entrance, offering a neat twist on this spirit without being overly fruity or dessert like. Great balance, and easy drinking despite the triple-digit proof level. A slight splash of water doesn’t hurt. 100 proof. A / $50 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]


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Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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  1. Sokojoe September 20, 2013

    Maybe John J Bowman Single Barrel is a “great vale” at $34 but I’ve never seen it less than $50. Great tour, great staff, but $50 for BT mash at 100 proof is pricey in my book.

  2. Christopher Null September 20, 2013

    May bad, it is indeed $50. Sorry about that.

  3. Josh September 22, 2013

    It isn’t quite as simple as a BT mashbill at 100 proof. It is triple distilled and aged in VA. There are a few variations of BT #2 and JJ Bowman is right up there for the best of the bunch.

  4. Derek November 17, 2013

    Took a chance and paid off big!!! Worth every copper penny spent (all 5000)!!! Incredible flavor!!! By far, my new favorite.

  5. jtboyer July 29, 2016

    Say I’m looking forward

  6. Daniel C December 14, 2016

    I live in VA and Bowman Brothers Small Batch is $30 and it’s my favorite bourbon. Of course I don’t do $40, $50 and higher top shelf stuff.


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