Spirit Of The Week: Abraham Bowman Oak Series – French Oak

Enter the lottery for a chance to purchase a bottle of this hotly anticipated Virginia whiskey.

(A. Smith Bomwan)

A little over a year ago, we shared the A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2 as the Spirit of the Week—an unproofed expression so violently potent (72.3% ABV / 144.5 proof) the FAA deemed it too flammable to fly. Literally, as in they considered the alcohol content bomb-like. Unfortunately this was only discovered after taking the delicious expression to the Galapagos, so it’s possible some laws were broken in its enjoyment. 

“Cask #2 was deliciously hazardous, but you would be wise to grab a Cask #3,” A. Smith Bowman distiller David Bock advises. “With each blend I am learning and, I think improving.”

Today we’re not here to celebrate A. Smith Bowman “Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #3” however, but rather an entirely new “Oak Series” sub-category under the A. Smith Bowman distillery’s Abraham Bowman vertical (the latter being the great-grandfather of distillery founder Abram Smith Bowman). Confusing? A bit. 

Abraham Bowman’s “Limited Edition Collection” looks to “push the boundaries of American whiskey making methodologies.” Their new “Oak Series” specifically dials down cask maturation, allowing for experimentation with different oak species found worldwide to discover how each varietal can nuance the bourbon within.

For the debut bottle, welcome Abraham Bowman Oak Series: French Oak.

“I like to think about our Abraham expression as a gamble: Maybe if we try ‘this’ it will turn out great!” Bock explains of his work under the Abraham Bowman label. 

(A. Smith Bomwan)

“For more than a decade we have been aging barrels in different types of oak hoping our gamble would pay off. Knowing we have multiple oak experiments coming, we thought the concept of an ‘Oak Series’ was fitting,” the distinguished distiller continues. “Our first oak trial, French Oak, has hit what I believe is its peak. As the other oak varietals age, we thought this release would be a great way to kick off what is about to come.” 

The juice that makes up the new expression was aged for exactly 12 years in French Oak—however the barrels were treated differently, some charred and some left uncharred. Why 12 years, you may ask? Because that’s when Bock and his team determined the bourbon was ready.

“I have always based my decision on flavor profile and will continue to do so,” Bock illuminates. “The age just happened to be 12 years.”

When asked about the specific blend between charred and uncharred barrels, the Distiller explains that it wasn’t an even 50/50 split—rather he balanced the cherry flavor from the uncharred barrels with the spice from the charred ones.

(A. Smith Bomwan)

“There is no way to know at the start what the finished product will taste like when you change something, like the type of oak. You have an idea or a hope of what will be produced, but that’s no guarantee.”

Demand for Abraham Bowman Oak Series: French Oak is so high that the distillery will only sell the bottles via online lottery taking place from April 4 through April 11—you can enter here. If you’re lucky enough to win a bottle, you will have to purchase it in-person at the A. Smith Bowman gift shop within three weeks of winning; a perfect excuse to visit the distillery’s Fredericksburg, Virginia campus. Sure it’s a bit of a hassle, but that’s the only fair way to keep prices down. 

Winners will be randomly selected on April 15 and notified via email immediately following the selection. Each 750ml bottle will be sold for $99.99.

Follow Deputy Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.