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DSR – VA – 004: Virginia Gentleman
Company/Distillery: A. Smith Bowman Distillery
Location: Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Mash Bill: Undisclosed
Age Statement: NAS (Email from distillery indicates a minimum 4 years old)
Proof/ABV: 80 Proof/ 40% ABV
Color & Viscosity: Watered down apple juice. Thin viscosity but a bit oily appearing in glass.
Purchase Price: $13.99 from VA ABC store 8/24/2020; 750 ml
Bottle Label Information:
“The Bourbon of Virginia”
“Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Distilled in Kentucky and Redistilled in Virginia”
“Bottled by A. Smith Bowman Distillery”
“Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Virginia 22408”
“We love to hear from our customers 1-866-729-3722”
“www.asmithbowman.com email firstname.lastname@example.org”
A. Smith Bowman Distillery
Legend has it that in 1934, A. Smith Bowman built a distillery in Fairfax County, Virginia as a way to use the surplus grain that his farm was producing. Shortly after launching the distillery, Bowman produced the first run of Virginia Gentlemen, a bourbon that is still on the market. Today, A. Smith Bowman’s core product line contains the following: Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Isaac Bowman Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Barrels; John J. Bowman Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Deep Run Virginia Vodka; Sunset Hills Virginia Gin; George Bowman Dark Caribbean Rum; Mary Hite Bowman Caramel Bourbon Cream. In addition to those products, A. Smith Bowman regularly releases its Abraham Bowman experimental projects which have included Cider finished, Double Barrel, Port finished, Gingerbread Beer finished, Rye, Sweet, Wheat, and many more. For more information visit the A. Smith Bowman website.
A. Smith Bowman is currently led by Master Distiller Brian Prewitt. Mr. Prewitt has been at Bowman since 2013 and has helped the distillery become the “World’s Best Bourbon” at the World’s Whiskey Awards in 2016 and 2017. Mr. Prewitt works alongside Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, of Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. Mr. Wheatley provides A. Smith Bowman with single run distillate. After receipt, Prewitt then distills the product two more times prior to aging and bottling at the Bowman distillery (Source).
Virginia Gentleman is an offering by the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. When browsing their website, there is no reference to this bourbon anywhere, however, an email to A. Smith Bowman, returned by a representative at Buffalo Trace, indicated that the distillery has had Virginia Gentleman in production since 1935. It should also be noted that this bourbon is aged a minimum of 4 years. They would not disclose the mash bill as it’s proprietary.
Tasting Date/Vessel: August 29, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian: This bourbon has a nose of fresh corn on the cob with butter. As you continue to smell, an aroma of apples becomes present. It feels rather one dimensional. Water really sweetens up the corn and adds a touch of honey to the mix.
Mike: Opening up and pouring in my glencairn unleashed a light fruity aroma. As I begin to nose in, a light ethanol presence transitions to a hint of butter and tart apples. A swirl in the glass brings forth a light scent of caramel and brown sugar.
Christian: Virginia Gentleman has a mouth feel that is light, thin, and watery. Flavors of corn, table butter, peanuts, and honey are all present on the tongue. These are not deep rich flavors, rather subtle and soft. Really not a complex pour – remains one note despite multiple tastings. I continuously get a taste that is similar to kettle corn. Adding water makes this take on a bourbon flavored water taste and feel. Corn is still strong however, the taste is just bland and flat.
Mike: A quick sweetness hits the middle of my tongue before the tartness begins to develop. Suggestions of popcorn expand towards the back of the tongue then a tannic bitterness surmounts the palate. A pop of oak tends to linger but it is very delicate, almost undetectable.
Christian: What finish? This bourbon doesn’t really bring a finish. No burn and drinks like less proof than the 80 proof at which this was bottled. If you try hard to identify flavor, you might pick up a hint of vanilla wafers and oak. It is just flat. With the addition of water there is nothing left at the end.
Mike: Not overly harsh, which is surprising. The finish is moderately soft and very short. The oakiness from the mouth persists in the finish.
Christian: Virginia Gentleman is what it is. A $13.99 bottom shelf bourbon offering that the distiller and its parent company don’t even publicly advertise. This pour has a lot of similar characteristics to Mellow Corn which I do like – keeping in mind that it is also a low cost whiskey option. Virginia Gentleman isn’t going to impress many as it is lacking complexity in the nose, mouth, and finish – but it is in no means rot gut. This is a good mixer or a fun bourbon to consume at a fall morning tailgate in Virginia.
Rating: 2.0 Rickhouses
Mike: I am typically a neat drinker but this is not an offering I would ever enjoy neat. It was really a meager offering overall but I honestly wasn’t expecting much, considering the price. I consider this to be a mixer, without question, which is honestly a little bit of a stretch seeing how much I did not enjoy this pour. I can appreciate that there is at least some flavor present, unlike some of the other whiskies we’ve reviewed.
Rating: 2.0 Rickhouses
Conclusion: Virginia Gentleman is a $13.99 bottle that has no chance of standing up to many of the offerings available at just a slightly higher cost. It is not a bottle that we would likely keep on the shelf, however, if the situation was right and we needed an inexpensive option available for mixing, then Virginia Gentleman could fill a need. It is definitely a better option than some of the flavorless bottles we have tasted in the $50-60 range.