Erica's Blog

The Try Something New Everyday experiment

Today I toured a whiskey distillery

on December 28, 2013

Today I found myself in Fredericksburg, VA which happens to be the home of A. Smith Bowman Distillery.   A stop in was a must.
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I’m not a whiskey coneiseor.  In fact, I’m not much of a liquor coneiseor.  I do live in awe of those who can talk intelligently about spirits though…to be able to tell the difference between flavors and years.  Instant mental visualization of “The Most Interesting Man”.  My taste buds lack such sophistication.  I figured I could learn a thing or two during the tour (and get a sample at the end to add to my education!)

Opening the door to the distillery was like falling into a bottle of bourbon without getting wet. The sweet, distinct, grainy aroma envelopes and satterates you.  All the flavor of bourbon without the buzz.

A. Smith Bowman distills high end bourbon.  So that’s a high dollar smell.  They offer free tours every hour during their business hours.  Visitors gather in the reception/gift shop area to begin the tour.  We were led all through the distillery and the tour guide filled our heads with awesome factoids.  Here are just a few:
* Bourbon is a type of whiskey but the whiskey has to be developed by distinct regulations in order to be considered bourbon.
* A bourbon uses a new american white oak barrel that is charred inside.
*Bourbons reside in that single barrel for the determined number of years (at least 2 years but usually 5-10 years)
* Most of the flavors of bourbons come from the wood of the barrel

The last room in the tour was the barrel warehouse (as pictured below)
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Oodles upon oddles of barrels!

The tour ended in the reception area and 3 samples were set out for us to try.  The first was a 7 year bourbon.  The tour guide instructed us on how to drink the whiskey to appreciate all the flavors.  I figured you just chug it but there is a technique to smell it, prepare the tongue and then sip.  Next, we sampled a 10 year bourbon to compare the difference of the time.  To me, the 7 year had more distinct flavors but also had a burn to it.  The 10 year was smoother, less burn but also mellowed flavors.  Lastly, we sampled a gin which after the tasting instruction, I could appreciate a bit more.

Overall, I found the tour fascinating!  Who knew what all went into making a simple drink!  I now have a deep appreciation for all the “liquid art” displayed in the ABC stores!

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