Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2017 Antique Collection Whiskeys

Here is the press release, straight from the barrel’s mouth:

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 19, 2017) Whiskey lovers rejoice, Buffalo Trace Distillery is releasing its 2017 Antique Collection. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley notes, “The team had another great year with the Antique Collection.  From distillation, to barrel selection, to bottling, this year’s collection showed very well.  I was particularly excited about the William Larue Weller with its extra richness, and the Eagle Rare 17 seemed more rounded and full of flavor.  None of these disappointed.”

(Note from Professor Cocktail: For addition information on the individual bottles, please visit my post on the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.)

Here’s what fans can expect this year:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg weighs in at 129.2 proof this year.  Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon have won many top awards, including “5 Stars – Highest Recommendation” by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2002. This batch contained 309 barrels, a few more than last year.  Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses C, K, M and Q.  This whiskey tastes of expresso, chocolate fudge and tobacco.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including a Double Gold Medal at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and “Bourbon of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2017.  The 2017 offering was distilled in the winter of 2005 and aged in Warehouses D, I, and P.  This bourbon registers in at 128.2 proof.  The bold flavors include toffee, marshmallow and leather.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Previous editions of this whiskey have been named “World Whisky of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and “World’s Best American Whiskey” by Whisky Magazine.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2011; aged on the third, fourth and fifth floors of Warehouses K, L, and Q, and weighs in at 127.2 proof.  The flavor is described as fig, allspice and cinnamon.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Silver Outstanding Medal at the 2017 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2017 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses C, K and P.  This 90 proof bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of oak, tobacco, toffee and vanilla.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old received “4 Stars – Highly Recommended” by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal.  This 2017 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of leather, clove and all-spice.  The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 1998, and then put into a stainless steel tank in 2016 to stop further aging and evaporation.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2017 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities this October.  Suggested retail price is $90 per bottle.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Categories
Whiskey

The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2017 Is Coming

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) 2017 edition is coming.

Fall is the time of year when rare and awesome American whiskey is released … and none of us are able to find any of it in stores. But someone is going to be lucky and find a bottle. So find that person and make friends with them.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

I’m going to have more details coming soon, but in the meantime, here is some additional information on the individual bottles.

George T. Stagg Bourbon Whiskey, 129.2 Proof, 15 Years and 3 Months Old

2017 George T. Stagg

Sazerac Rye Whiskey, 90 Proof, 18 Years Old

2017 Sazerac Rye 18 Year-Old

William Larue Weller Bourbon Whiskey, 128.2 Proof, 12 Years and 6 Months Old

2017 William Larue Weller

Eagle Rare Bourbon Whiskey, 90 Proof, 17 Years Old

2017 Eagle Rare 17 Year-Old

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey, 127.2 Proof, 6 Years and 5 Months Old

2017 Thomas H. Handy Sazerac

Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Introduces O.F.C. Range of Very Rare and Collectable Vintage-Dated Bourbons

PRESS RELEASE

This fall, Buffalo Trace Distillery will release three unique vintage-dated bourbons honoring the National Historic Landmark’s original name – the O.F.C. Distillery. During Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr’s tenure, the O.F.C. Distillery was renowned for producing top class whiskey. The first vintages of O.F.C. Bourbon Whiskey coming in November are sure to be collector’s items and will be offered exclusively to non-profit organizations at no charge to raise money for their causes.  Although these rare whiskeys will not be available in stores or bars and restaurants, later vintages will be released to the overall market starting in the Spring of 2017.

All of the O.F.C. collection releases will be vintage dated according to the specific year in which the bourbon was distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each hand-cut crystal bottle will feature the vintage year on the label.

The first release is comprised of only 200 bottles; 100 bottles from the year 1980, 50 bottles from 1982, and 50 bottles from 1983.  Future releases will unveil whiskeys from the 1990s, including a 1993 vintage and several consecutive vintage years thereafter. Subsequent O.F.C. releases will follow year after year as vintages are produced and reach maturity.

Straight Bourbon whiskey must be aged in oak for at least two years, but these O.F.C. releases matured much longer. Recipe and age will vary by vintage, but many are expected to mature for twenty years or more. Barrels are evaluated regularly and some whiskey will be removed from the barrels as taste reaches the peak of flavor.

The packaging for O.F.C. matches the splendor of the whiskey itself, in lead free crystal bottles with detailed fluting engraved into the mold. Glass artisans cut the shoulder facets using equipment created exclusively for Buffalo Trace Distillery.  Each bottle then is manually polished to achieve maximum glass brilliance before in-laying cut copper lettering to spell out “O.F.C.” on the front.  A paper label is then hand applied below with the vintage prominently noted, along with a label on the back of the bottle noting the milestones for the vintage year of the bottle.  For example, the 1980 label memorializes the U.S. Ice Hockey team’s stunning victory over the Soviet Union, along with pop culture happenings and Ronald Reagan’s presidential election.  The bottle is then given one last polish for the ultimate premium presentation, while a cork stopper with a copper top adorns the top of the bottle to finish out this stunning bottle. 

This bottle is a replica of an O.F.C. decanter dating back to the early 1900s found in the Buffalo Trace Distillery archives.  Equally as impressive as the bottle is the display box in which the bourbon is presented. The dark wooden box prominently bears the O.F.C. name in copper, along with a copper plaque depicting the year the bourbon was distilled. Upon opening the revolving door on the wooden case, the bottle is proudly displayed on a small riser, commanding attention as its prized possession is revealed. A provenance card is inside each display box, containing the same information found on the back label. Finally, each box is then packaged in a tasteful cream colored bag to protect it from any damage before placing it into the shipping boxes. 

Non-profit organizations located in the United States who are interested in obtaining a bottle to use as a fundraiser for their charity should visit http://ofcvintages.com/ to fill out an application.  To be considered, organizations must submit an official U.S. non-profit tax ID number and use the bottle for fundraising purposes only. Applications will be taken online only and recipients of the bottles shall be notified by email by November 1st, 2016, at which time bottles will be shipped free of charge. Charities will have until March 1st, 2017 to auction their bottle and report back to Buffalo Trace Distillery how much money was raised.

      This is the second time Buffalo Trace Distillery has partnered with non-profit organizations to raise money. In 2011, the Distillery gave away 174 bottles of its Millennium Barrel, the last bourbon barrel filled on the last day of the last century. In total more than $150,000 was raised for various charities across the United States, with the top organization raising more than $7,000 for their cause. 

      “These vintages are certainly unique and special whiskeys. We hope this O.F.C. collection can pay tribute to the many years gone by here at the Distillery. Each vintage has a story to tell indeed,” stated Kris Comstock from Buffalo Trace Distillery.  “To offer this first release to charitable organizations for their fundraising efforts makes this even more rewarding. We expect bottles to raise upwards of $10,000 each for worthy causes.”

Collectors interested in a chance to participate in a fundraiser can start checking the website in November http://ofcvintages.com/ for a list of non-profit organizations who will receive bottles for fundraisers.

ofc-bottle-canister

Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2016 Antique Collection Whiskeys

It’s the best time of the year for whiskey fans, as Buffalo Trace Distillery releases its 2016 Antique Collection. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what ardent fans can expect:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg weighs in at a hefty 144.1 proof this year.  Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon won many top awards, including twice named the number one spirit in the world by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2001. This batch contained 142 barrels, but not as many bottles as expected, due to some very greedy angels!  Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses M, N, H, L and K.  Finding a bottle this fall will be difficult due to the low yield.  This whiskey tastes of dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including the “Bourbon of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 edition. The 2016 offering was distilled in the spring of 2003 and aged on the third and sixth floors of Warehouses D, K, and L.  This bourbon registers in at 135.4 proof – one of the stronger Weller releases.  The bold flavors include plum, figs and vanilla.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2015 edition was named “Best American Rye Whiskey” at the 2016 World Whiskies Awards.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2010; aged on the fourth, fifth and seventh floors of Warehouses I, K, and M, and weighs in at 126.2 proof.  The flavor has been described as toffee and cinnamon.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Silver Outstanding Medal at the 2015 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2016 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses H and K.  This 90 proof bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of leather, vanilla, tobacco and toffee.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named the Best Rye Whiskey 11 Years and Older by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible2016 edition.  This 2016 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of smoke, clove and all-spice with a dry finish.  The barrels for this whiskey were filled in April of 1998, making them the first “new” batch in years not drawn from the stainless steel tank as the previous past few editions have been.  From this year onward, this whiskey will be drawn directly from barrels put away for 18 years, versus using any tanked whiskey.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2016 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October.  Suggested retail price is $90 each.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

buffalo trace antique collection whiskey

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Press Releases

Buffalo Trace Releases 13-Year-Old Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 22, 2015) 

Buffalo Trace Distillery has returned to its roots with the latest release in their long-running experimental whiskey program, a bourbon made using an old-fashioned process of souring the mash.  Distilled in May of 2002, this Old Fashioned Sour Mash experiment used Buffalo Trace’s proprietary mash.  The bourbon was cooked and cooled to standard; however, the similarities stop there. The mash was allowed “to sour” before yeast was added to start the fermentation process, a method long abandoned due to its more laborious process.

This sour mash method differs from the more common process used today by nearly all bourbon manufacturers. The routine method calls for cooking and cooling the mash, and then immediately adding yeast and a small amount of previously distilled mash (or “setback”) as it cools to sour the mash.   The traditional old-fashioned sour mash process fell out of favor many years ago, and it was not until a gathering of distillery “old timers” that Buffalo Trace was inspired to revive it.

After the sour mash was distilled, it was entered into barrels at two different entry proofs, 105 and 125. Aged for 13 years on the seventh floor of Warehouse I, the two different entry proofs took on unique characteristics. The 105 entry proof delivers a light body, with notes of vanilla and fruit, and a dry, nice finish, while the 125 entry proof offers a medium flavored body, with spicy flavors mingled with caramel, and a balanced pleasing finish.

These barrels are part of more than 4,000 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each of them has unique characteristics that differentiate them in distinct ways. Some examples of experiments include unique mash bills, types of wood, and different barrel toasts. In order to further increase the scope, flexibility, and range of the experimental program, an entire micro distillery, named The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. “OFC” Micro Distillery, complete with cookers, fermenting tanks, and a state-of-the-art micro still has been constructed within Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace has increased its commitment to experimentation with the recent addition of its Warehouse X. Although small in size, Warehouse X is designed to explore the extent of environmental influences on the flavor profiles of whiskey.

The Experimental Collection is packaged in 375ml bottles, with two bottles from each entry proof in a case. Both entry proofs were bottled at 90 proof.  Each label includes all the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. These whiskeys retail for approximately $46.35 each and will be available in late September, 2015. Experimental Collection releases are generally quite small and have limited availability.

Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey experiment

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2015 Antique Collection Whiskeys

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 8, 2015) Whiskey fans rejoice, Buffalo Trace Distillery is releasing its 2015 Antique Collection in late September. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what loyal fans can expect:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, the 2015 George T. Stagg weighs in at 138.2 proof this year.  Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon won many top awards, including twice named the number one spirit in the world by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2000. This batch contained 128 barrels, a similar size batch as in previous years. Unfortunately these barrels yielded very little whiskey. Some of the barrels were nearly empty, containing only 1 or 2 gallons. Storage location of these barrels varied across a number of warehouses and several floors, but 84% of the original whiskey was lost to evaporation (or some very greedy angels!). Finding a bottle this fall will be harder than ever. This whiskey tastes of expresso, molasses, chocolate, vanilla, and dates.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including the Second Finest Whiskey in the World by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015 edition. The 2015 offering was distilled in the spring of 2003 and aged on the second and sixth floors of Warehouses I, K, and L.  This bourbon registers in at 134.6 proof – one of the stronger Weller releases.  The bold flavors include toffee, nougat, and figs.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2014 edition was named “World’s Best American Whiskey” at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2009; aged on the fourth and seventh floors of Warehouses I, K, and M, and weighs in at 126.9 proof.  The flavor has been described as fig, clove, and allspice.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Gold Medal at the 2014 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2015 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses Q and I.  This bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of oak, tobacco, and dates.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named the third finest whiskey in the world by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015 edition, and American Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate Magazine.  This 2015 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of molasses and allspice, with a long, dry finish.  Several years ago, barrels of fully matured Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old were put into a stainless steel tank at Buffalo Trace Distillery to prevent further aging. Since then, whiskey has been drawn each year for bottling.  This is the last edition of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old from that tank. Next year’s batch will be comprised of whiskey that is currently aging in barrels filled in April 1998 and subsequent releases will contain barrels filled in 1999 and so on.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, andJim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2015 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October.  Suggested retail price is $80 each.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Bourbon

Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2014 Antique Collection Whiskeys

I’m sharing this news because I know a lot of people are interested. Here is this year’s info on the latest batch of whiskeys you’d love to have, but won’t be able to find.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 4, 2014) Whiskey aficionados can start their holiday shopping early once Buffalo Trace Distillery releases its 2014 Antique Collection in late September. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what loyal fans can expect:

George T. Stagg

The 2013 release of this perennial favorite received the prestigious Chairman’s Trophy during the 2014 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.  Barrels for this year’s George T. Stagg bottling were selected from Warehouses C, H, I, K, L, P, and Q.  This uncut and unfiltered bourbon was distilled back in the spring of 1998 and weighs in at 138.1 proof.  Although still highly allocated, happily there are a few more bottles available this year, since Buffalo Trace increased distillation for George T. Stagg back in 1997. This whiskey tastes of dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and dates.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. The previous edition was given a “95” rating by Whisky Advocate Magazine.  The 2014 offering was distilled in the spring of 2002 and aged on the second, third, fourth, and sixth floors of Warehouses D, K, and L.  This bourbon registers in at 140.2 proof – the strongest Weller release ever.  The bold flavors include dark molasses, plums, and toffee.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2013 edition was named “World’s Best Rye Whiskey” at the 2014 World Whiskies Awards.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2008, aged on the fifth floor of Warehouse M and weighs in at 129.2 proof.  The flavor has been described as Christmas cake, allspice, coconut, and clove.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Silver Outstanding Medal at the 2013 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2014 edition has been aging on the second, third and sixth floors of Warehouses I and K.  This bourbon was aged nearly two decades and tastes of oak, leather, cinnamon, and tobacco.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was awarded a Gold Medal from Whisky Magazine’s World Whisky Awards.  This 2014 straight rye whiskey release was aged in Warehouse K and has notable flavor of all-spice, molasses and hints of mint, along with a long, dry finish.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2014 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October.  Suggested retail price is $80 each.  For more information visit www.greatbourbon.com.

Categories
Spirits Spirits Reviews Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Whiskey Review: Stagg Jr. Bourbon

Stagg jrStagg Jr.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Grade: five stars(Highest Recommendation)
Price: $50 (750ml)


Buffalo Trace Distillery
has long been one of the most aggressive whiskey outfits when it comes to experimenting with and producing new bourbons. Their latest is one that's already generating a great deal of interest: Stagg Jr.

A younger version of the highly sought-after George T. Stagg Bourbon, this new bottling is, like its Dad, barrel-proof, uncut and unfiltered; clearly a whiskey designed to appeal to the bourbon connoisseur.

The first batch of Stagg Jr. comes from barrels aged for eight or nine years. (The regular Stagg is aged for at least 15 years.) So it's not a young bourbon by any means. It's coming in at a whopping 134.4 proof (67.2% ABV).

The aroma of the Stagg, Jr. bursts out of the glass. Rich, candied fruit, with moderate ethanol fumes. You can tell it's going to be a strong one.

Taking a few sips, I immediately tasted a burst of caramel sweetness, followed by a delicious grain flavor, and finally closing with a lingering spicy finish. It has quite a kick, but it's a welcome one. This is definitely a hot spirit, but not an overpowering one.

A splash of water brought out even more of the unctuous, almost honeyed sweetness. Stagg is made from Buffalo Trace's "Mash Bill #1," which is their low-rye version, containing a higher percentage of corn. Even so, you can taste the rye influence. There are some pumpkin pie spice hints of cinnamon and clove that help balance out the sweetness.

Stagg jr bourbonInterestingly enough, just a little more water overpowered the spirit. You'd think that a bourbon this strong could handle a lot of dilution, but I found that the flavor started to drown very quickly. So add water with a very strict hand.

I have not had the pleasure of tasting the original George T. Stagg, nor many of the other highly acclaimed bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle. But I am quite confident when I say that this is the best bourbon I've ever tasted.

Expect this whiskey to be almost impossible to find. Once it hits the shelves, people are going to swarm on it like locusts. Stagg Jr. will be available in select markets beginning in August of this year — but not for long.

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News Whiskey

R.I.P. Truman Cox, Master Distiller

Truman coxThere was some sad news for the whiskey world yesterday. Truman Cox, 44, master distiller at the A. Smith Bowman Distillery, died suddenly. He leaves behind a wife and daughter, as well as a lot of people who respected and admired him.

Truman was the lead chemist at Buffalo Trace before moving to Fredericksburg to take over Bowman in June 2011. It had long been his dream to be a master distiller, and he was by all accounts overjoyed at his job.

I didn't know Truman personally, although we were Facebook friends. Just a few days ago he was making jokes about how he was sick and the doctor didn't know what was wrong with him. And then he was gone.

He was outspoken and funny, a friendly guy who knew his bourbon. I imagine he was a great fellow to sit down and enjoy a glass of whiskey with — preferably whiskey he himself had made.

Truman was doing some great things at A. Smith Bowman, guiding them to a place of growing respect and prominence among bourbon drinkers. (I reviewed the John J. Bowman bourbon and liked it.)

He'll be missed.

Categories
Spirits Reviews Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Whiskey Review: John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Bourbon


John Bowman BourbonJohn J. Bowman Single Barrel

Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Grade: three stars(Above Average)
Price: $50 (750ml)

I've been a resident of the Old Dominion for the past ten years, so I have a particular interest in Virginia spirits. This is especially true when it comes to the products made by A. Smith Bowman, since I lived just a few miles from the site of their old distillery for a big chunk of that decade.

The Bowman distillery was founded shortly after the end of Prohibition in a part of Northern Virginia that at the time was still very rural. Despite being less than twenty miles from Washington, DC, the area consisted mostly of farms and forestland.

Abraham Bowman and his sons began making whiskey there in 1934, and the company continued doing so for over fifty years, most of it sold under the Virginia Gentleman label. Although it is commonly believed that bourbon must be made in the state of Kentucky, this is not true. Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States. In fact, when settlers first started making bourbon in Kentucky, it was still part of Virginia.

As Northern Virginia became increasingly developed, and property taxes climbed, the Bowman distillery had to move sixty miles south to Fredericksburg. Eventually it was sold to the Sazerac company, owners of Buffalo Trace and many other brands of fine whiskey.

John J. Bowman bourbon is triple-distilled — the first two times at Buffalo Trace in Kentucky and the last time in a copper pot still at Bowman. It is then aged in barrels in the Bowman rickhouse in Fredericksburg. The climate of Northern Virginia is similar to that of Kentucky, but more variable, which has an effect on the aging of the whiskey. (Although I couldn't tell you what that is.)

This bourbon has a sweet, lively aroma of caramel and chocolate. The taste is dry and bold, more spicy than sweet. It's moderately hot at 100 proof, but not unpleasantly so. John J. Bowman has lots of flavor and a kick that will warm you down to your cockles. The finish is long and oaky with hints of vanilla. The bottle doesn't have an age statement, but it definitely has some years on it, probably north of ten.

I tend to prefer my whiskey a little less dry, but this is a very interesting spirit. It has a big, bourbon taste that I think a lot of whiskey drinkers are going to love, along with elements that remind me of aged Barbados rum like Mount Gay Extra Old. It's great to see the tradition of fine Virginia bourbon continuing, over two centuries after the colonists first began making it.