The A. Smith Bowman Distillery just released the Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Vanilla Bean Infused Whiskey. According to their press release:
This new whiskey was aged a total of seven years and six months in the barrel. Barrels of A. Smith Bowman bourbon were infused with chopped up Madagascar vanilla beans in October of 2012. Beans were added at various levels and tasted every ten weeks to observe how their flavor interacted with the bourbon as it aged. After a little over two years, all of the barrels were married together for bottling.
The distillery was kind enough to send me a review sample. First, I’ve got to say vanilla is the star here, but not in an unnatural way. It doesn’t come across as having fake vanilla flavoring added. This vanilla bean infusion also doesn’t completely overtake other flavors, but make no mistake – if you don’t like the traditional vanilla flavor in your bourbon, you won’t like this.
On the nose, there’s a bit of vanilla up front, followed by some oak and even a little maple syrup and nutmeg. It’s a nice, sweet smell. I pick up some sweet vanilla, oak, caramel, sweet corn and some spice (very traditional bourbon flavors). The mouthfeel seems a little thin. I also notice that at 90 proof, this whiskey is a great sipping proof. There’s not a lot of bite. The finish is medium-long and sweet. There’s a hint of vanilla afterwards, which makes me long for another sip.
There’s a good news and bad news situation here. The good news: this edition of Abraham Bowman is an interesting and successful experiment in infusing additional “traditional” flavors. I suppose this is technically a flavored whiskey, but it doesn’t have the artificialness of others in that category. It tastes like a traditional bourbon with slightly elevated vanilla flavors. The bad news: it is extremely limited, and mostly available in Virginia (where the distillery calls home). This will run you about $70. Recommended.