- Brand: A. Smith Bowman
- ABV: 50%
Here's a whisky named after someone who really does have quite a legacy. John J. Bowman was an explorer who went through Kentucky in 1775. He then moved there with his family a few years later, eventually presiding over Kentucky's first county court and becoming the first military commander and military governor of Kentucky County. He was the great-great-uncle of Abram Smith Bowman, founder of this distillery (which is in Virginia, not Kentucky).
John J. Bowman is the name the A. Smith Bowman distillery gives to their single barrel bourbon (although no barrel number is given). Unusually, it is triple distilled.
The colour is a coppery gold. Oaky on the nose with contrasting fruity notes of lemon pith, green apple and sultana. Thick caramel. Lots of cinnamon. Roasted almonds. Wet leather. Light hint of wood smoke. Though no age statement is given, this does seem very wood-dominated. More wood smoke with water, but really water is not necessary here. Very complex and well-balanced between wood and lighter fruit notes.
Even fruitier on the palate with dates, papaya, blackberry and ripe banana. Not too hot in the mouth, with baking spices and unusual herbs (lavender, tarragon). Creamy mouthfeel. Sweet toffee (maybe a bit too sweet). More herbal with water. Again, the balance between complex and contradictory notes is impressive.
The long finish has oak char with baked apples and sage. This is a surprisingly rich yet delicate bourbon, with all the wonderful notes you could ask for (perhaps that delicacy is a result of the triple distillation?) I've had a couple of whiskies from this distillery and they never disappoint. Jim Murray scores this a 94, and it won World's Best Bourbon at the 2017 World Whiskies Awards.