For my next client visit, I stopped by A. Smith Bowman Distillery to learn about hand-crafting spirits and to catch up with old friends. My earliest memories with A. Smith Bowman Distillery go back about 15 years when Joe Dangler was the Master Distiller. Joe taught me and my mom about horse betting at Colonial Downs and our temporary workers made hand-crafted jello shots. And, one could not take a trip down memory lane without paying homage to Bowman’s Vodka and Gin (not that I ever took it from my mom’s liquor cabinet). A lot has changed since those good ol’ days, but our 20-year business relationship remains smooth and distinct, just like their award winning vodka, bourbon and whiskey!
A. Smith Bowman Distillery prides itself on being a historical family-owned distillery. A. Smith Bowman needed a use for all his estate farm’s excess grain in the late 1920s. So, in 1935, after the repeal of prohibition in the state of Virginia, he built and licensed a distillery in Northern Virginia. His sons continued the business and the distillery moved to its current location in Spotsylvania County, near the city of Fredericksburg, in 1988.
During my visit I worked with Jason and Keenan. Two years ago, we placed Jason at Bowman for a temporary one-day assignment after having a hard time finding employment. His temporary assignment led to a permanent position with Bowman (we also recently placed his wife at a full-time position in the Fredericksburg area). Jason and I made a new batch of bourbon and barreled it, which will be ready in 10 years. Master distiller, Brian, even allowed me to sign my first barrel of bourbon. I’ve marked my calendar for 10 years from now to make sure I return to try my personally barreled bourbon (though I know I’ll be back for tastings before then).
After barreling, Keenan gave me a chemistry lesson on testing the proof in the alcohol. Then, we labeled the bottles for an upcoming special release and shipments. I also caught up with Debbie and Jimmy who have been mainstays at Bowman’s for almost 30 years!
Jobs can be funny in that you never really know what path might lead to a new career. When A. Smith Bowman opened his dairy and granary in 1927, he probably didn’t foresee such a successful distillery taking shape. When Jason went on his one-day Bowman assignment two years ago, he didn’t anticipate a start to a new career. Keep an open mind the next time you take a temporary position – it might be the bridge to your next full-time career!
Whether hosting events at the distillery or sponsoring events in Fredericksburg, A. Smith Bowman is very active in the community. Be sure to visit this upcoming weekend for the Sixth Annual Father’s Day Celebration with free tours, tastings, vendors, live music and more. You can also rent out the distillery for special events! They offer tours Monday through Saturday and have a great gift shop if you are looking to buy local gifts in Fredericksburg.
Let’s work together! Contact Ginni if you’d like me to spend the day learning your job!
Stay tuned to see where you’ll find me next…