John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon Review

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By Jake Emen

Rating: B-

John J. Bowman Bourbon

John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon
(Credit: A. Smith Bowman)

The greater area surrounding Washington D.C. has seen an expansive growth in all things imbibing in recent years. Yet, it’s not only the Johnny-come-lately distilleries and breweries who are capturing consumer attention.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery has been open for over 75 years, and is currently located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, sandwiched about halfway between Richmond and the nation’s capital. One of the reasons for renewed interest in the brand as of late has been their experimentation with small batch and single barrel offerings. Here, I’ll offer my thoughts on the John J. Bowman single barrel straight bourbon whiskey.

The Bourbon
John J. Bowman was a pioneer explorer, and the first military commander and governor of Kentucky County. He must have been a part of some epic donnybrooks in his day, because his single barrel whiskey comes looking for a fight, with a strong, intense aroma and sharp flavor.

The aroma is both earthy and spicy – at one moment I’m smelling a combination of deep spices that I could only imagine would make for a wonderful secret ingredient for a chili recipe. Perhaps I’ll report back on that.

Of course, you’d expect that a single barrel wouldn’t have all of its intricacies smoothed over. On ice, the intensity and sharpness of its taste and aroma settles down, and you’re left with a long finish. More sweetness also comes to the forefront.

The single barrel John J. Bowman is hand bottled at 100 proof, using the oldest barrels in the warehouse, and is left to age for “years on end”.

Between this and the Bowman Brothers small batch bourbon which I also recently sampled, I’d sooner reach for the Bowman Brothers small batch, but for a single barrel, when sometimes you never quite know what you’re going to get, the John J. Bowman is also impressive.

The Price
John J. Bowman single barrel bourbon has a suggested retail price of $49.99

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