View Full Version : RE-introduction

09-09-2011, 08:22
Greetings and salutations to the Straight bourbon.com community,
Many of you may already now me as I have been a member for several years. I have gained a new position and felt that it was best to reintroduce myself so that this community would know and understand my background and new point of view.

My Name is Truman Cox and I am the new Master Distiller/Director of Operations of A Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, VA. I am coming into the microdistilling business from a fairly unique position. While most micro-distillers are startups, A Smith Bowman has been a large format distillery in the past and business has diminished to the point that I am refocusing the business model as a regional/craft micro-distiller.
I personally have been in the alcohol industry for many years. I have a degree in Chemistry from the University of Central Florida. I started in the alcohol industry as the Quality Chemist for the beverage alcohol division at Grain Processing Company in Muscatine Iowa. While there, I earned still operator certification and became intimately involved with all aspects of wet milling and ethanol production, including fuel, industrial, beverage and medical grades. I also worked with many of the top vodka producers in the world. I set up a world class sensory laboratory for GPC and became something of an expert in organoleptics for beverage alcohol. I left GPC to work as the lead chemist at Buffalo Trace Distillery. I apprenticed in the still house under Harlen Wheatley, one of the most award winning distillers in the world. I was then selected to become the Master Distiller to take over for Joe Dangler, who is retiring form A Smith Bowman.
We have 7 products currently. Virginia Gentleman, Bowman Brothers small batch and John J Bowman single barrel whiskies are distilled, barreled, aged, and bottled at A Smith Bowman. I will be sourcing some barreled goods from our larger brethren for our Abraham Bowman Limited edition whiskey until some of our experiments at ASB come of age. Our vodka, gin, and rum are sourced but they are picked by me personally and I designed the formula for our gin.
We are putting capital into our tourism area and will have a general opening on November 1st. I plan on starting fermentation at the A Smith Bowman distillery which hasnít been done since 1984. We still have the original yeast from A Smith Bowman and will be recreating his recipe. I also plan on making our own rum when our fermentation vessels are ready; using our own used cooperage for aging.
I make no secret that we purchase designate from Buffalo Trace distillery and have purchased designate since fermentation was ceased in 1984. We distill the designate, barrel and age the distillate at our own facility. I plan on expanding our designate purchases to include some other distilleries to marry the distillates before going through my own still to come up with some unique whiskey.
I know and understand the informaiton and honesty that is requested by many members fo SB and will endeavor to answer as much as I can without revealing trade/company proprietary information. some things just can't be answered.

Truman Cox (etohchem)
Master Distiller
A. Smith Bowman Distillery
One Bowman Drive
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
Office: 540-373-4555 x1310
email: tcox@asmithbowman.com

Lost Pollito
09-09-2011, 08:28
Thanks for the re-introduction Truman, and Congratulations again. :cool: Sounds like we should expect some good things.

09-09-2011, 09:39
Truman, thanks for this information and wishing you all the best, this sounds most interesting.

My only question is, is the A Smith Bowman distillery still owned by Buffalo Trace Distillery and therefore ultimately by the Sazerac Company which owns Buffalo Trace Distillery?


09-09-2011, 10:07
Truman, on a separate note and since you indicated the original A Smith Bowman yeast will be used anew for fermentation, I thought I'd mention that I used to buy Virginia Gentleman back in the 1980's when it would have been an all-Virginia product. The reason I bought it was, I had read that this was the bourbon served at the annual dinner of the press corps in Washington, D.C.

I have a clear recollection that it was very impactful on the palate and had a marked rye note, almost like some of the 4 year old rye whiskeys of today. It was not sweetish like, say, ETL is, but on the dry side.

It is good to know that A Smith Bowman's recipe will be recreated and I thought these taste notes, albeit from memory and going back almost a generation, might be of interest.


09-09-2011, 10:42
Congrats on the new position!

09-09-2011, 12:18
Truman, thanks for this information and wishing you all the best, this sounds most interesting.

My only question is, is the A Smith Bowman distillery still owned by Buffalo Trace Distillery and therefore ultimately by the Sazerac Company which owns Buffalo Trace Distillery?


Our parent company is Sazerac.

Thank you for the tasting notes. I am finding that VA climate lets the bourbon get more esterificaiton and less typical wood effect than similar aged products from our western neighbors. kind of a reverse small barrel effect, more noticable age. your results may very.


09-09-2011, 14:19
Are you able to tell us what the off-the-still proof and barrel entry proof are for your bourbons?


09-09-2011, 14:21
I read in a whiskey book from the mid to late 80's I think it was Micheal Jackson's that the whiskey made at the old Bowman distillery was considered sweet mash, but was not. Something to do with cleaning the fermenters. I know others probably have read it too. I lent my copy out so I cannot check myself. What do you know about that?

09-10-2011, 15:50
no on distillation proof. 125 on barreling proof.
Had not heard about the sweet mash/sour mash. will investigate.


09-10-2011, 19:29
I have Michael Jackson's book before me and this summary may be of interest. He was describing distilling at Sunset Hills, Reston, VA, the original location of the distillery (est'b 1934). (Shortly after the book came out, the business moved to Fredricksburg, VA where a small distillery was set up and which has been re-distilling white dog coming from what is now Buffalo Trace distillery). Jackson said the distiller at the time in Reston was Tom Leahy, who is pictured in the book.

Jackson said a 90 proof version of VG was occasionally issued called Fairfax County. He said VG was big-bodied and used more malt and less corn than some bourbons. He called it "magnificently flavoured". He said that the bourbon was described as sweet mash but that this was "hair-splitting" based on some kind of sterilising of the wooden (cypress) fermenter. He said in fact backset was used in the fermenter although not the cooker and therefore the whiskey in a principal respect was a sour-mash whiskey.


09-10-2011, 20:59
I am speculating here, but they probably used enough backset to get the ph just right in the cooker. Which would not have been much. And left a small amount of mash in the fermenter for the next batch. Which would have had a souring effect as well.

09-10-2011, 21:02
Thanks to a fellow member i have a sample of Fairfax county and it is indeed big bodied whiskey. Very good stuff. I would imagine a low still and barrel proof.

09-13-2011, 17:55
Thanks for the re-introduction, Truman. Since my first taste of The Fox, I've been a big fan of Bowman whiskeys. It sounds like you've got some really exciting things going on. I'm looking forward to tasting the results!

09-14-2011, 09:11
Since my first taste of The Fox, I've been a big fan of Bowman whiskeys.

The Fox was a regular go to for quite some time. I'm now down to one lonely bottle on the shelf which will probably go unopened for years to come. I always loved drinking The Fox in the summer. A light, easy drinking bourbon which worked great neat, on ice, or in a cocktail. Lots of good irish whiskey notes always accompanied my pours.

The only other Bowman product I have tasted is one of the cask strength ryes, which I thought was excellent.