Friday, January 20, 2017

John J. Bowman Pioneer Spirit Single Barrel Virginia Straight Bourbon

- $55
- 100 Proof

As the name would imply, John J. Bowman Bourbon hails from Virginia. While it's not the bourbon Mecca, considering the deluge of quality bourbons hailing from outside of Kentucky, that fact alone should not steer anyone away from this bourbon. I've always been intrigued by it, and have read review after review that this is a good to great bourbon. Though I've wanted to give it a try, it seemed to have become more scarce than it previously was for a while, and I just couldn't find it. However, on a recent mini-road trip for work I found a bottle at one of my go to stops whenever I'm out that way, and I didn't hesitate to pull it off the shelf.

To get right to the point, these other positive reviews were absolutely correct. This is definitely a very good bourbon, one I wish I had gotten around to earlier, and one which I will happily enjoy whenever given the opportunity to do so. It is going into my memory bank of solid bourbons that could be mainstays for me, right there with Eagle Rare, Four Roses Single Barrel, Old Scout, and others.

The nose is almost all caramel. Sure, there are hints of vanilla and the expected light burn from the alcohol, but the caramel clearly dominates on the nose on this one.

The taste was somewhat different than what I was expecting after smelling it, but it actually exceeded my expectations. My first notion was that I am a fan. Consistent with the nose it carries a heavy caramel flavor. Now certainly all bourbons should have those vanilla and caramel notes, but to the extent there's any sliding scale of vanilla versus caramel flavors in bourbons, this is all the way on the caramel end.

It has a rich coffee undertone that really adds to the character, complemented by a light cinnamon spice at the end. It really is like a caramel flavored coffee drink with cinnamon sprinkled in, and as someone who likes his coffee to be foo-foo'ed up, this really appealed to me.

It had a light burn that tended to evaporate pretty quickly, and by the last few pours from the bottle was pretty much nonexistent. It also has a hint of oak dryness to it. Although there's no age stated on the bottle, that certainly gives the indication that A. Smith Bowman Distillery is not simply throwing some young juice into a bottle to hurry up and get it out on retail shelves. It's got the taste of an 8-10 year bourbon (other blogs suggest that it's a 10 year old bourbon). That oak from the age seemed to be just the right amount, adding to the character of the bourbon rather than making it bitter or otherwise detracting from the traditional bourbon notes as is the case with some longer-aged bourbons.

Grade: B+

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