SPVAQ32021 - 28

sugar barrels and was impressed
with how charring improved the
flavor. " Others, however, dispute
this legend.
In 1792, Kentucky (including
counties that had been part of
Virginia) became a state. Settlers
continued moving into the
region, where corn grows well.
For farmers, distilling corn into
whiskey was more practical than
transporting and selling the grain.
Thus, throughout the region
known as Old Bourbon (named
after a French royal family), corn
whiskey shipped from ports at the
falls of the Ohio River came to be
known as " Old Bourbon whiskey. "
The popularity of corn-based
whiskey grew, and much of it
came from outside of Kentucky.
But then, writes Chuck Cowdery
in " Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut
and Unfiltered Story of American
Whiskey " : " After bourbon
crashed in the 1970s, the industry
contracted into the Kentucky
heartland, so people just assumed
bourbon could only be made in
Kentucky. "
At that point, Cowdery writes,
the " only producer outside of
Kentucky was A. Smith Bowman,
maker of Virginia Gentleman. "
A. Smith Bowman began making
bourbon in Fairfax County,
Virginia, in 1934 (Bowman
moved to its current location
near Fredericksburg in 1988).
The distillery has been producing
bourbon ever since, except for a
brief time during World War II,
when all distillery production was
redirected toward war efforts.
" Up until the 1960s, 'bourbon'
could be made anywhere in the
world, " explains Bowman Master
Distiller Brian Prewitt. " It wasn't
until it was deemed a 'distinctive
product' of the United States by
the 88th Congress that the origin
had to be the United States. "
GROWTH IN THE
COMMONWEALTH
In 2005, 57 craft distilleries
operated in the U.S. By 2020,
that number had exploded to
more than 2,000. Throughout the
country, many of these distilleries,
including several in Virginia, are
making award-winning bourbons.
" Virginia bourbons have
increased in quantity and sales, "
says Maria Jeter, marketing
product manager at Virginia ABC.
" Consumer interest in Virginia
bourbons has increased over the
last few years as we have a wider
selection. "
In 2015, Virginia ABC stores sold
four Virginia bourbons-Bowman
Brothers Virginia Straight
Bourbon, John J. Bowman Virginia
Straight Bourbon, Reservoir
Bourbon Whiskey, and Filibuster
Bourbon.
" Bourbon is the quintessential
American drink, " says Jay
Carpenter, cofounder of Reservoir
Distillery. " At its founding [2008],
Reservoir was the nation's third
distillery outside of Kentucky
making bourbon. "
In 2016, Virginia ABC added
Ironclad Bourbon to its inventory.
In 2017, six more dropped on
shelves: Bare Knuckle Straight
Bourbon Whiskey from KO
Distilling; Ragged Branch
Signature Bourbon and Ragged
Branch Straight Bourbon Wheated;
Mccauley's Virginia Bourbon
Whiskey from Dome & Spear
Distillery; Kopper Kettle Virginia
Straight Bourbon Whiskey from
Belmont Farm Distillery; and
Hunter & Scott Bourbon Whiskey
from Reservoir Distillery.
The year 2018 held steady, while
2019 introduced consumers to
Old Volstead's Straight Bourbon
Whiskey from Mt. Defiance
Distillery and Ironclad Bourbon
Finished in Maple Barrels.
In 2020, Virginia ABC
introduced Church Bourbon from
Falls Church Distilling.
Between 2015 and 2020, the
number of Virginia bourbons
inventoried by Virginia ABC had
grown to 15, and sales had nearly
tripled. The top five bourbonproducing
distilleries by total
sales were A. Smith Bowman
Distillery, Reservoir Distillery,
Ragged Branch Distillery, Ironclad
Distillery and KO Distilling.
DISTINGUISHING BOURBONS
When craft distillers began
making bourbon, few would have
claimed a need to improve upon
the spirits from top distilleries like
Elijah Craig, Woodford Reserve,
28 SPIRITED VIRGINIA

SPVAQ32021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SPVAQ32021

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