In 2001 I was in Virginia to watch the distillers of DISCUS (Distilled Spirits Council of the United States) distill some whiskey at Mount Vernon. While I was in Virginia, I visited the A. Smith Bowman Distillery. That is when I purchased this bottle from their gift shop.
The A. Smith Bowman distillery was founded in 1933 by A. Smith Bowman. It was a small farm distillery with Bowman growing his own grains to distill. The brand created was Virginia Gentleman and it was a huge success in the region. The distillery remained in the family until 1960 and was expanded in 1966 to a capacity of 50 barrels a day. In 1970 Robert E. Lee IV became the head of sales and in 1971 John “Jay” Adams became the head of production. However, not even these famous names could help the sales in this time of declining whiskey sales. By 1988 the original distillery site was sold and the smaller, new distillery was built in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
The new distillery did not have a column still or fermenters. The distillery was purchasing once distilled Bourbon spirits from a distillery in Kentucky and then double distilling the spirits in their copper pot still and aging it in their warehouse. In the early 21st century, Sazerac purchased the distillery. They continued to send once-distilled spirits to the distillery to be double-distilled and aged. The brand has grown under Sazerac and there are some A. Smith Bourbon whiskey expressions available in most markets. This bottle was distilled by Joe Dangler and has the fox head embossed on the bottle because A. Smith Bowman was a “Master of the Hunt” in his lifetime.
Virginia Gentleman “The Fox”
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Rich vanilla pudding with some notes of caramel and oak.
Taste: Corn and vanilla with ripe apples and lemon zest, baking spices and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry enhances the lemon zest and baking spices reminding me of a lemon poppy muffin. Tasted with a pecan and the caramel and apple flavors come forward.
Finish: Long and dry with sweet oak and baking spice. The cranberry added some notes of lemon to the finish whereas the pecan simply enhanced the caramel notes, making the finish sweeter and shorter.I am pairing this Bourbon with a Perdomo Reserve Champagne Noir Maduro cigar. I find the smoke very robust with lots of rich, earthy tobacco and cedar spiciness. The Bourbon added a creamy note of vanilla to the smoke and the smoke enhanced the spiciness of the Bourbon. I like this pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller