Wednesday, March 6, 2013
A Truman Cox Tribute with Some Bowman Bourbons
The whiskey world suffered a huge blow recently with the death of 44 year old A. Smith Bowman Master Distiller Truman Cox. Tributes to Cox and his work by John Hansell and Sam Komlenic at Whisky Advocate are worth a read.
The A. Smith Bowman distillery was a sleepy distillery that made Virginia Gentleman bourbon before Buffalo Trace let Truman Cox and his predecessor Joe Dangler wake it up, releasing premium bourbons and ryes under the Abraham Bowman label.
In memory of one of the whiskey greats, I'm going to sample two of the most recent limited releases from Truman Cox's A. Smith Bowman Distillery.
Abraham Bowman Port Finished Bourbon, 7 years old, 50% abv ($70)
This most recent Bowman limited edition bourbon was finished for 8 months in a bourbon cask that was refilled with port for two years before it was used to finish this bourbon.
The nose on this is really nice with a balance of sweet candy notes and wood with some fruit and wine noes in the mix as well. The palate is very sweet, with caramel and maple syrup, but lacks some of the balance of the nose. It's quite hot for being 100 proof. Adding water produces some sour, acidic notes.
I've never been much of a fan of finished bourbons, and this one doesn't convince me otherwise. The nose is beautiful, but the palate doesn't quite keep up with it. It's good, but not exceptional.
Abraham Bowman Limited Edition 1994, 73.75% abv ($70)
This is another limited release Bowman, the third in that series. It was distilled in 1994 and aged over 17 years; it's hard to find outside of Virginia and Maryland. At 147.5 proof, this is Stagg level stuff.
The nose is very similar to a Stagg (which makes sense given that it's the same mashbill and a similar age and proof), with huge polished wood notes and some candy sweetness. It also has some good rye type notes with some light mint and spice. The palate has a lot going on; there's wood, vanilla, anise, mint and some rye; the only flaw is an acidic note that pushes some of the other flavors to the background around mid-palate. The finish is sweet mint and spice, like a good mint julep. It's very hot, of course, but once it's diluted and airs out a bit, it's very nice.
Despite it's high proof, this isn't quite up to Stagg quality, but it's good stuff with lots of complexity.
The willingness to experiment with these limited releases is a real tribute to all of the folks at Bowman, including the great Truman Cox.