Thus far, I have mostly been sharing tasting notes for bourbon and rye whiskeys that are difficult to find, or that are unique, or that I just truly enjoyed and wanted to discuss. However, recently I received some input from some of my followers who indicated that they would like to see more frequent reviews and actual ratings for the whiskeys I am sharing. I was thrilled to get this input because this is still a new blog, and I am still learning how to run this site and make it useful and interesting for as many people as possible.
I am going to do my best to continue updating this blog regularly, hopefully at least once every week or two. I also took the advice I received and I am going to start including ratings for all of my posts. I had someone help me create a nifty whiskey bottle rating system, so you will see that any time I post a new review.
Finally, I want to say thanks to those people who have reached out to me and helped me improve this site. I appreciate your input and I will continue doing my best to listen and make this site better over time.
Now, on to the review…
This is the John J. Bowman Single Barrel from the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This distillery does not actually produce their own distillate, but the distillery was purchased by the Sazerac Company in 2003 and I have heard rumors that all of the juice going into these bottles comes from Buffalo Trace. If this is in fact a Buffalo Trace product, I would suspect it comes from mashbill #1, meaning this mashbill likely consists of corn, rye (less than 10%), and malted barley.
This is a triple-distilled product, although it is unclear how many times A. Smith Bowman actually distills this bourbon at their facility. This product is apparently aged anywhere from 9-10 years and comes in at 100 proof (50% abv). The John J. Bowman Single Barrel retails for $50.
Appearance – light copper.
Nose – the nose is light and crisp with some alcohol coming through. Heavy caramel, sweet vanilla bean, and leather develop initially, along with some cedar notes and a light citrus profile. The nose is not terribly complex and it didn’t really change with time, but overall it was very pleasant.
Palate – there is a mild sweetness up front along with the traditional bourbon flavors of oak, caramel, and vanilla, which provide a well-balanced profile.There was some burn from the 100 proof, but it was not overpowering by any means. There is also some rye spice that balances nicely with the alcohol burn, and additional notes of dried fruit, mainly raisins and apricot, also come through.
Finish – this bourbon provides a nice, soft mouthfeel with a medium-long finish. Some sweet notes of dried fruit remain, along with some dark chocolate, light rye spice, oak, and some smokiness. I was also pleasantly surprised by some light notes of tropical fruit and mint.
I think this is a solid bottle of bourbon. It is well-balanced, light, and easy-drinking. The traditional bourbon flavors are present and you don’t have to work too hard to find the more subtle flavors that develop throughout the sip. Based on the flavor profile, I definitely believe the rumors that this juice originated at Buffalo Trace. I also think the price point for this bourbon is perfect. At $50/bottle, you don’t need to feel guilty when you inevitably over-indulge in this bottle.