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Issac Bowman Port Finished

Author: Joe Burnett

Sometimes when you are scanning the shelves and looking for new options but not a large investment, it
can be daunting; there are lots of options. I stumbled across this lovely bourbon whiskey by chance,
intrigued by the story on the bottle, and I thought, “lets give it a shot”. Today’s distillery harks back to the
original A. Smith Bowman distillery which began production the day after Prohibition ended in 1934. The
copper stills used for production are named after the Bowman brothers’ parents; George and Mary.
These stills produce a triple-distilled spirit, from which Master Distiller Brian Prewitt leverages his
creativity to experiment in creating must-have bourbons. While this name doesn’t jump out like some,
don’t let it fool you. The distillery has won multiple silver and gold medals, and in 2016 their port
finished “Worlds Best Bourbon” at the World Whiskey Awards.

This port finished offering from 2016 formed the basis and formulation for the offering available today.
I appreciate its somewhat benign 92 proof, and the initial nose yields the quintessential port fruit-
forward essences. The hints of tannin along with the white oak come thru initially. As it breaths, I pick
up a complimentary blend of jam and bourbon-mash sweetness. I enjoy its rather straightforward
offering, not overly complex, in that it’s easily drinkable as-is with the right amount of space between the
flavor characteristics as it travels through the mouth. On my palate, the first sip carries the pleasant
sweetness from the corn, a complimentary fruit jam, and almost fig-like caramel. Master Distiller
Prewitt got it right – no off flavoring or ‘cough syrup’ that some other brands produce with this type of
finish. I was curious to see how water might change the nose and the pallet, so I add a few flecks of
crushed ice to see what might develop. As is sometimes the case, the nose is muddled somewhat, but,
the flavor has shifted to more of a caramel-spice with the port flavors now on the backend instead of at
the tip-in. I detect some small amount of pecan skin bitterness, throughout. As the last bit resides in
the base of the glass, it has continued to develop, with one last sniff yielding the caramel forward
bourbon many folks enjoy.

If you’re looking for a solid mid-priced bourbon whiskey that avoids the Allocation Trail, lends itself to
both neat and or a bit of ice, and makes a basis for a solid cocktail, look no further. The fun in having
this spirit develop over a period of a half hour will make an interesting conversation piece with your
savvy friends and allows you to enjoy it multiple ways depending on the night. Maybe the port finish
will match well one night with your meal, maybe the next night the more caramel centric is more
appropriate. You’re in luck – this can do both, and does it well. Won’t you give it a try?

As always, I enjoyed this spirit in an original green and gold Culvers old fashion glass.