...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Whisky #500: Abraham Bowman Virginia Rye (exclusive to The Party Source, barrel #2)

And some of you are going, "Huh?"

Okay, maybe some backstory?  I'll try to keep it brief.

Abraham Bowman is a whiskey brand owned by A. Smith Bowman, which is in turn owned by Sazerac.  A. Smith Bowman does have its own distillery in Virginia and (according to Sku) rather than distilling grain mash, they distill spirit that has already been distilled by Buffalo Trace.  In 2011, they released three single barrel ryes exclusively through The Party Source in Kentucky.  For these whiskies, Bowman took Thomas H. Handy rye spirit (sources here and here) and re-distilled it.  They were all left to matured longer than Buffalo Trace's Handy releases -- somewhere around 10 years -- and all have very high ABVs.

In 2012, Florin (a prince) poured a glass of barrel #2 for me.  It was the best American whiskey I'd ever had.  Over the years it has kept that title.  But I wondered recently, had I begun to inflate this memory?  I've had a lot of American whiskey since then.  And other people (see the links above and also LAWS) raved about barrel #1, but no one to my knowledge had reviewed barrel #2.  Thankfully, I had a sample of this very rye, which I opened on Mathilda's 18-month birthday.

The important thing to remember is:
Change is goo.
Brand: Abraham Bowman
Company:  A. Smith Bowman
Owner: Sazerac
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Final Distillation: March 14, 2001
Bottled: May 12, 2011
Age10 years
MaturationNew American Oak
RegionFredricksburg, Virginia (though originally distilled in Frankfort, Kentucky)
Barrel: 2
Retailer: The Party Source
Alcohol by Volume67.3%
(Sample acquired via a swap with Florin three years ago. Thanks!)

Tasting Notes:

Color -- A red brown, like cherrywood.

Nose -- Enormous wood notes.  Vanilla beans, butter toffee ice cream, pencil shavings, and Hershey's syrup.  Weaving within the oak desserts are mint leaves, cherry candy, Macintosh apple skins, and (maybe) slivovitz.  It also picks up some orange oil notes after a half hour.

Palate -- Not only does it have most of the nose's notes, but it's also loaded with thick gooey rye, salt, limes, and chili oil.  So much toffee.  Almond cookies, vanilla mingling with toasted nuts.  It's also a little malty at times too.  The peppery spice box notes lift off at the 30 minute mark.

Finish -- All night long.  Chili oil and brown sugar.  Oak smoke and toffee.  Then the rye hammer lands and spice fills the face.

More words:

As wonderful as I'd remembered.  You may ask, "Did you try it with water?"  And I may answer, "Nope."  This should be experienced in its full thunderous form.  Very bold but very composed and, well, delicious.  Multiple times during this tasting I discovered I'd gotten lost in reverie.  I can't think of an American whiskey I've tried that can match this rye.

I'm of many minds about this, partially because I am Sybil, and partially because of the utter shitshow that the premium American whiskey marketplace has become.  It would be wonderful if Bowman would produce more of this rye at full strength because people need to try it.  But it would royally suck if they only released it exclusively through a retailer that doesn't ship.  What would suck even more royally is that if they did release more single barrels today then most retailers and all flippers would sell it for 5x its MSRP and no one would actually open a bottle.  So maybe it was best that it was sold four years ago.  Some people actually drank it.  Change is goo?

Availability - None
Pricing - ???
Rating - 94