Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Sazerac Company Inc.
Distillery: A. Smith Bowman Distillery
Release Date: December 2022
Age: 10 Years
Color: Dark Copper
MSRP: $100 (2023)
Cherry | Caramel | Vanilla | Creme brulee | Maple | Beautifully robust
Black currant | Plum | Cacao nibs | Molasses | Thick oak | Velvety | Full flavor
Dry oak | Dry leather | Maraschino cherries | Toasted brown sugar | Long & powerful
Hitting the same exceptional mark as its previous release, A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2 adds layers of dark fruit and an even higher proof in an effort to continue its reign as one of the top barrel proof bourbons on the market.
Last year’s inaugural release of the A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon line was a banger right out of the gate. We awarded it our #1 Whiskey of 2021 saying, “Bold. Memorable. Delicious. A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch 1 is in a class of its own. All of its qualities taken together are what propelled this whiskey to the forefront of our minds time and time again in 2021. A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon above all others that we tasted, was the one that left an incredibly memorable impression.” Somehow, A. Smith Bowman Distillery was able to follow it up with the announcement of an even higher proof barrel proof bourbon at the end of 2022.
Ramping the proof to 11 on the Spinal Tap dial (or 144.5 proof in standard bourbon terms), this HAZMAT bourbon is even more bold than the previous batch. Yet it's able to keep its composure, and not be overrun by its high proof. The nose is beautifully robust with scents of cherry and caramel upfront, followed by vanilla and creme brulee, atop a maple base. The palate, most interestingly, adds black currant and plum, which are layered upon cacao nibs, molasses, and thick velvety oak. The finish is on the dry side thanks to its oak and leather components, yet offsets these flavors slightly with maraschino cherries and toasted brown sugar.
There are times people think an ultra high proof whiskey automatically brings with it robust flavor. To a degree this is correct, but there are plenty of unbalanced and overly hot ultra high proof bourbons that border on undrinkable. The best of the best know how to manage their proof while showcasing their robust flavors. With such high proof it isn’t always easy to deliver individual flavors and instead deliver them en masse. A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2 does a great job delivering a stream of flavors that each have their moment to shine. A. Smith Bowman Distillery hit one out of the park once again, now they just have to work on making this release more available to bourbon lovers.