Saturday, May 7, 2011

Virginia Gentleman Is Still Made and Sold.

Ah, the bar bets.

The know-it-all tells you bourbon can only be made in Kentucky so you book the bet and ask the barkeep to hand you a bottle of Virginia Gentleman Bourbon, made in Virginia. Easy.

A. Smith Bowman, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is now owned by Sazerac/Buffalo Trace. About a year ago they launched a line of Abraham Bowman small batch bourbons and ryes. They also killed, I thought, the more pedestrian Virginia Gentleman brand.

Joe Dangler, the long-time Master Distiller at Bowman, will retire soon (exactly when is up to him). His replacement will be Truman Cox, Chief Chemist at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, who moves to Virginia this week.

I was talking to Cox recently and learned that while they did discontinue the 90 proof Virginia Gentleman expression, known as 'the fox' for its fox-hunting scene label, the venerable old 80 proof VG continues to be made. It's nothing special, just a good, standard bourbon, mostly distributed in Virginia.

But if you see it on a back bar somewhere else, there is money to be made.


Crash said...

Don't have a bottle in front of me, but I believe that the labels on Virginia Gentleman read, "Distilled in Kentucky and re-distilled in Virginia" I'll have to look again when I get to my store tomorrow.

Chuck Cowdery said...

When Bowman moved to Fredericksburg in 1988 they didn't put in cookers, fermenters, and a beer still, just a spirit still. They get white dog from Buffalo Trace, distill it again in Virginia, and age the whiskey in Virginia.

Anonymous said...

I have a miniature Virginia Gentleman bourbon bottle and the label says copyright 1936. Does that refer to the label or the bottling?

Do you know how to read miniature bottle numbers on the bottom of the bottles?

Chuck Cowdery said...

The copyright most likely refers to the label. Obviously the bottling can't be earlier than 1936, but may be much later.

The numbers embossed on the bottom of the bottle simply identify the bottle mold used to the bottle maker. Sometimes they can help you date the whiskey if a date is clearly present, but just like the above, all it really gets you is the earliest possible date, not the actual date. I hope this is helpful.

VersatileVintage said...

thank you for the response.