Review: A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2

Review: A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2

A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch 2 bottle

Here at Drinkhacker we’ve previously brought you a review of A. Smith Bowman’s inaugural Cask Strength bourbon offering, and today we’re pleased to bring you a review of the Virginia distillery’s second act. The relatively new release has quickly joined the ranks of some of the most sought-after annual bourbon expressions. The reason for that is partially due to our enthusiastic coverage, but largely due to the ecstatic reception of bourbon aficionados everywhere. A. Smith Bowman’s Cask Strength bourbon batch #1 was acclaimed by us as “one of the best new bourbon releases in years.” For the 2022 follow-up bottles were doled out to a select few consumers via a lottery system on the brand’s website. Additionally, a limited number of bottles went to select markets in mid-December.

In the press release for this expression, the brand remarks that, “the second cask strength release from Virginia’s oldest distillery pushes the limits of high proof whiskey, coming in at 114.5 proof.” A. Smith Bowman’s Master Distiller Brian Prewitt said, “Batch #2 is a high proof whiskey lover’s dream” and A. Smith Bowman Distiller David Bock added, “While last year’s inaugural Batch #1 boasted a more delicate profile that drank like a much lower proof bourbon (though it wasn’t!), this year’s offering really roars. Batch #1’s proof snuck up on you; Batch #2 slaps you in the char.” Bock concludes by noting, “Batch #2 also contains the last of the barrels Joe Dangler, former Master Distiller at A. Smith Bowman for over 30 years laid down. We’re humbled to honor his lasting influence with this release.”

Now let’s find out if A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength the sequel is as good as the original. As it opens with the ebullient aroma of blackberries, allspice, fresh butterscotch Krimpets, dark leather, and wood polish, it becomes immediately apparent that this will be a sumptuous affair. Joining the initial symphony are notes of overripe banana, bay leaves, and cilantro. Given time to rest there are some further umami-like aromas hiding behind the earthiness and the butterscotch sweetness of those Krimpets is joined by a yellow-cake-with-vanilla-frosting sweetness, both distinct.

In the mouth it’s the flavor of blackberries that leads the way, with a healthy dose of black pepper accompanying them. The texture is surprisingly quotidian given the high proof and density of aromas on the nose but the flavors are bursting with richness. I’m at first tempted to say this drinks below its proof but suddenly the heat comes ratcheting back up and impressively maintains balance between the sweet pastry notes and the baking spice influence for an incredibly lengthy finish. Foregoing the typical dryness one finds in such high proof offerings, the finish instead brings a handful of the aforementioned tasting notes along for the ride: namely vanilla frosting, baking spice, fresh berries, and leather.

While the high heat does at times serve to distract from rather than enhance the experience, in fits and starts one is able to fully appreciate that there are a ton of well-developed flavors on display along with as significant and impressive a finish as I can think of in recent memory. While the average mouthfeel and the uneven heat represent two forgivable drawbacks, there are innumerable noteworthy aspects of this whiskey which make it an absolute homerun. If you were fortunate enough to win A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength bourbon batch #2 for a C-note via the brand’s lottery, consider it a grand slam.

144.5 proof.

A / $100 /

A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2




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1 Comment

  1. Dorita on February 5, 2023 at 10:43 am

    Now I’m curious and about to enter the lottery.
    Thanks Frank for another great and informative review. ?Cheers

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