Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Abraham Bowman Rye Whiskey Review (Barrel Strength)

This is a quick review that I was spurred to write after tasting a sample of Abraham Bowman Pioneer Spirit Virginia Whiskey. Whew, that’s a doozy of a name, but in short this is a rye whiskey first distilled by Buffalo Trace before being re-distilled at the A. Smith Bowman distillery in Virginia. This particular one was a single barrel bottled for The Party Source, a wine and spirits store in Kentucky. It was distilled on March 14, 2001 and bottled on February 1, 2011. This is from Barrel #1 and it’s a whopping 68.2 abv or 136.4 proof.

Think of this one as a nearly 4 year older (10-ish years vs. 6 years) version of Buffalo Trace’s other cask strength rye – Thomas H. Handy Rye Whiskey. While I’ve not done a review of Handy, I feel it and the George T. Stagg from the 2010 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) were the 2 stars of last years BTAC releases.

This is the first I’ve been able to get a hold of this whiskey. However, thanks to Steve Ury, otherwise known as Sku, from Sku’s Recent Eats, I was able to try a sample. Steve is a gem of a guy, one of the best whiskey writers on the internet and has one of the more entertaining blogs as well. Check out his site when you can.

Enough blabbering, let’s get into this review…..

Abraham Bowman Rye Whiskey, 68.2% abv (136.4 Proof), $70
What a massive pour of whiskey. Abraham Bowman Rye is mahogany hued and drinks just like it looks – intense. The nose blasts you with rye grain and spice, is calmed ever so slightly with toffee and brown sugar syrup, then fistfulls of mint, licorice, and Kirsch. The palate is just enormous (there’s a theme here and it’s big!) with an oily texture that coats anything it comes in contact with. However, even at 136 proof, this is not too hot to sip neat if you take it slow. Syrupy toffee sauce, black pepper, mint, eucalyptus, menthol, and cherry cough syrup are delivered in layers on the palate. The finish is long and lingers for days with cherry, cola, peppery spice, and a gentle bitter quality that is a welcomed respite from the intense flavors that preceded it. Abraham Bowman Rye Whiskey is an absolute stunner and a must try for those that love big barrel proof whiskeys.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (9.5 Superb/Outstanding)


  1. Jason,

    Do you know if this whiskey will be widely available? I’m in California, what are the chances of me seeing this in a local store?

  2. Ryan that is a good question. I believe that if you called to some better stores in your area there is a chance. If you can get some shipped into your state you could try contacting The Party Source. It’s worth the hunt I assure you.

  3. Just ordered a bottle of this and a bottle of the private bottling Buffalo Trace from The Party Source. Looking forward to both!

  4. Jason,
    How does this compare to Thomas Handy? Same ballpark?
    Gonna try to hunt some down.

  5. Hi Jason. New Manifesto fan here. Writing as I enjoy a Rittenhouse Rye 100 Old Fashioned. Just wanted to suggest that perhaps you were “spurred” rather than “spurned” to write today’s review. Must have been the high octane 🙂

  6. Indeed Marc. Thanks for keeping me straight!

  7. Franco, very much in the same ballpark. Absolutely as good. Hunting down a bottle of both to do a comparison.

  8. Ryan, let me know what you think!

  9. Jason and others, this is an unrelated (to the Abraham Bowman) question but, how do you guys get the cork fragments out of your whiskey glass?

    I’ve noticed that some corks deteriorate quite quickly and leave quite a bit of cork sediment in the glass after a pour. Others seem to be made more densely and don’t do this. When you pour and notice a decent amount of cork in your glass, what do you do? Strain it? Spoon it? Drink it?

    I noticed the cork from some Wild Turkey Rare Breed putting a lot of sediment in my glass last night. Is this a bad cork? Do some brands/bottles just have bad corks?

  10. Ryan, I haven’t had this problem with new whiskeys, but with older bottlings it can be an issue. I’ll take the whole bottle and run it through a coffee filter before decanting it back into its (or another) bottle.

  11. I had that with a bottle of Rare Breed from earlier this year, and also with a Macallan 12. For me, it’ll depend on how much whisky is left. I decanted the WTRB since there was a sizable amount left, but with the Mac there were only a few glasses left when I started noticing the cork, so I just fished any pieces out with a spoon.

    Either way, it’s very frustrating, since whisky isn’t cheap and it’s the sort of problem which shouldn’t happen…

  12. Sam, I decanted the bottle last night through a coffee filter. Thanks for the advice.

    Bitter, I wonder if this is a problem with certain bottlings of Rare Breed especially?

  13. Great review, Jason. While I have not tried this yet I can only imagine it was like driving a Lamborghini after the Toyota Corolla low proof WT.

  14. Hey Jason, thanks so much for the kind words. I really enjoyed this one as well. BT finally seems to be treating Bowman as a serious asset.

    Ryan, this bottle is exclusive to The Party Source, but they do ship to California. I’ve never seen any product out of A. Smith Bowman on a shelf in Calfornia, but hopefully that will change as BT seems to be expanding that brand.

  15. Jeffrey, that’s about accurate! ; )

  16. I finally tried this. Absolutely amazing. Fully drinkable at full proof and the buttery warmth in mouth it’s unlike anything I’ve tried before. Nose is great. Flavor is great. I’m going to order 2 more bottles for the bunker.

  17. Jason – thankfully I have a couple bottles of this very nice Rye sitting in the bunker. I’ll be visiting Bowman next month and will meet with Truman Cox the new Master Distiller. Joe Dangler is retiring after many years on the job. Rumor has it that BT is looking to make Bowman a micro distillery but I have nothing more than snippets of conversation to back that up. In the meantime, they’re performing second distillation and aging there in Fredericksburg, VA.

  18. Greg, sounds fantastic and I for one would love for you to share what you learn when you are there next month. It’s not been an easy one to get here, so I was really quite impressed by it. I hope you are doing well.

  19. Ryan, glad you liked it. I concur – it’s wonderful whiskey.

  20. Jason, where’d you go? We miss you.

  21. Tommy, I’ve got some things in the queue. It’s been a hectic 3 months so it’s made for a tough time getting consistent content up, but it’s coming around. More new reviews coming this week and next.

  22. Nice. Looking forward to it.

  23. For all that we pay for these reviews, we expect more!

    Kidding aside, nice to have you back.

  24. Tommy, my address is on the site. Send checks payable to Jason Pyle. 🙂

    Thanks for checking in and checking back. More good stuff coming.

  25. Hi Jason,

    Glad to see you were able to try the Bowman from TPS that I gave you the heads-up on back in August. Sounds like you were not disappointed. A gem of a whiskey. Thanks for the great review!

  26. HP12, I sure was able to get ahold of some. Thanks for bringing it to my attention – it’s a stunner!

  27. Jason,

    Great review! I just opened a bottle tonight at your recommendation, and I love it! Compared to the 2010 Thomas Handy (I understand it’s the same juice as the Handy, aged longer) I find it more balanced and with deeper but more forward, open flavors. I’m getting another bottle for the bunker.

  28. Florin, glad you enjoyed it. Cheers!

  29. Hello, Jason. Have you tried (or heard anything about) the Abraham Bowman bourbon? I noticed that the Party Source carries that in addition to the rye that you reviewed. If the bourbon rates anything like the rye, it might be very interesting as well. Take care and thanks for all of the bourbon/rye education that I’ve received from your site and youtube videos!

  30. Ditto to Chris’ question about the Bowman bourbon. Party Source lists two in addition to the rye, same price, same high proof. I ordered the rye from them and it kicks butt. I would expect the same from the bourbons. For anyone giving up on finding Pappy and BTAC, some top shelf stuff is a click away.

  31. Ford, I am looking forward to reviewing more of the Bowman stuff. I have enjoyed it.

  32. I was at The Party Source this weekend and saw what i thought was more Bowman Rye from this review. I was a little shocked to see it as i had heard that it was gone. Then I realized that the Bowman Rye on the shelf was not barrel proof, but 90 proof. Problem was, it was still marked $72.99.

  33. Dear Todd et al.,

    I’ve been thinking about purchasing a bottle of the 90 proof Bowman Rye, since I have a brother down in Virginia who can get his hands on it, but I’m reluctant to do so without hearing from others if they’ve tried the 90 proof and, if so, what their thoughts are. Any advice?

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