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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Bowman Brothers Small Batch

I was searching my favorite dusty-bottle haunt when I saw this on the shelf. Knowing that it was “for the sake of the blog”, I plunked down my $35 to try this interesting find that I hadn’t tasted.

A Pioneer Spirit

The label shares the story of the Bowman Brothers, John, Abraham, Joseph, and Isaac. All were officers in the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War. In 1779, the brothers led 30 pioneer families to Madison County, Kentucky (near present-day Richmond, Kentucky) establishing Bowman’s Station. Later, the brothers moved further west and established Fayette County, Kentucky (now home to Lexington). They were legends, admired and respected by fellow settlers for their courage and bravery. This hand-crafted bourbon whiskey is a tribute to these four heroic Bowman brothers. My oldest daughter attended college in the Bluegrass and took a Kentucky History course. As I learned more about these heroes, I had to ask – did you learn about these in your class? She answered, Of course, they were quite neat!

These four brothers were, indeed, heroes and pioneers in the truest spirit. John participated in campaigns with George Rogers Clark throughout the West (at that time meaning Ohio and Illinois) to secure the frontier. Abraham served in most of the major northern campaigns during the Revolutionary War, which culminated in leading a charge against the final redoubts at Yorktown. Joseph was second-in-command to Clark, was injured at the end of the Illinois campaign and succumbed to his wounds in 1779. Isaac was charged with leading a band of settlers back from Fort Kaskaskia, Illinois in 1779, only to be captured by natives. He survived his torturous imprisonment, escaped and spent nearly 2 years returning to the Colonies via Cuba.

Modern-Day Pioneers

In 1927, A. Smith Bowman purchased Sunset Hills farm in Fairfax, Virginia with the intent of operating a dairy and granary on the sprawling 7,200 acres. With an abundance of crops, and Prohibition’s end, Bowman built a distillery on the farm and began selling his Virginia Gentlemen whiskey.

Today, the distillery has relocated to Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1988 and in 2016 and 2017 won “World’s Best Bourbon” at the World Whiskies Awards. In 2003, Sazerac (owner of Buffalo Trace and Barton) purchased the A. Smith Bowman distillery.

The Tasting

Bowman Brothers is bottled at 90 proof in a short, squat, rounded bottle containing the stories of the Bowman Brothers on the back label. It is triple-distilled in copper pots. While the mash bill isn’t disclosed, it does contain at least 51% corn, followed by rye and malted barley. Bowman Brothers batches their bourbon into eight-barrel batches that have aged between 6-7 years.

Eye: Honey

Nose: There are sweet notes of vanilla-maple and fruit (apple-pear) and a little bit of spice. This has a quite lovely nose – much more complex than I would have expected from a $32 bourbon.

Palate: There is more maple, vanilla, fruit and very light spice with a slightly thick mouthfeel. I get some nut and oak flavors as well.

Finish: Medium with a vanilla trailing off to be replaced by a spicy finish. This one really maintains its sweetness (without being too sweet) throughout the tasting.

Overall: This is a nice find for a break from traditional Kentucky bourbons and for something “different”. Priced at around $32, you’ll receive a smooth drinking bourbon that’s suitable for every day consumption. Sources indicate that the distillate may actually originate from Buffalo Trace and are further distilled and aged in Virginia. Even if this is the case, this is a bourbon worth considering for a different twist on a traditional bourbon. I won’t be reluctant to to grab this one again.

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