Fairfax County Bourbon Review

Fairfax County Bourbon Review

Fairfax County Bourbon comes to us from the A Smith Bowman distillery which was founded right after prohibition (1934) in Fairfax County Virginia, hence the name of this whiskey. Virginia Gentleman and Fairfax County Bourbon were its two main products and until the 1950s it was the only active distillery in Virginia. In 1988 the distillery moved to Spotsylvania County where it is today. I don’t know exactly when they stopped making the Fairfax County Bourbon, but I’m guessing that the move would have made it difficult to keep the name so it would have been sometime before that.

Fairfax County Bourbon Info

Region: Virginia, USA

Distiller: A Smith Bowman
Cask: New charred oak
Age: 5 years
ABV: 50%

Distilled: Fall 1950
Bottled: Fall 1955

Price: NA – Dusty

Fairfax County Bourbon Review

EYE
Worn leather

NOSE
Dark fruit, oak, dilly rye spice, leather, vanilla and a whole host of spices like cinnamon and clove with a touch of vanilla. It’s a rich full luscious bourbony aroma and I’m loving every second of it.

PALATE
Dilly spice, oak, complex dark fruit, complex dark sweets, leather and a touch of astringency, varnish and cough syrup. I know that sounds bad, but it’s not and compliments the sweet and spicy notes very well.

FINISH
Long leathery fade sprinkled with notes of oak, cinnamon, caramel and varnish.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Nicely balanced, a full body and a warm rich texture.

OVERALL
1950s Fairfax County Bourbon is fan-freaking-tastic whiskey. Rich aroma, deep flavors and a pleasantly lingering finish combine in a grin inducing manner. I wanted to give the Fairfax County Bourbon an A- but the harsher varnish / cough syrup notes, while not bad, were hanging a bit heavier than I like and overshadowed the darkly sweet and fruity notes a bit too much. It’s an interesting bourbon all around, but what I found most interesting is that it kept conjuring up images of Four Roses while I was enjoying it.

Something about the combo of rye spice, dark fruity notes and oaky notes hit in just the right combination and my brain kept wanting to find a connection between the Fairfax County Bourbon and a bottle of Four Roses. The next time I get to try this I’ll see if shakes anything loose in the grey matter and see If I can figure out exactly which bottle of 4R it’s reminding me of. If it does I’ll update it here. Regardless, 1950s Fairfax County Bourbon is an incredible whiskey and definitely one for the snag-it-at-an-auction-if-its-reasonablyish-priced list.

SCORE: 87-89X/100 (consumed at a tasting, not at home)

Fairfax County Bourbon Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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12 Responses to Fairfax County Bourbon Review

    • Good question. Based on what I’ve seen bourbon like that go for on the secondary lately I’d say you could get somewhere in the $150-$250 for each. Though keep in mind that at auction you’ll only end up with about 1/2, or possibly even less, of the hammer price after you’ve paid for shipping and all of the fine print auction house fees. Unless you’re seriously hard up for cash I’d just drink them or trade them with friends for other bottles you want.

  1. I just acquired a bottle of this with a bottle date of 1981. Joe Dangler, the Master Distiller of Bowman for well over 30 years told me that all Bowman produced bourbon was halted at the time of the move in 1988. They contracted with Ancient Age (BT) to supply their distillate from that point on.

  2. Josh: I hope this reaches you. I have an unopened bottle of Fairfax County Bourbon 4/5 quart that says on the stamp, Fall 1965 and below Spring 1970 and below that 1969. Does this make sense to you? Is this bourbon worth anything? Would love to know. I got out of the Army in 1960 in Arlington VA and bought this at some point and never drank it. Saw your notes and it is obvious you know a lot about this type of bourbon. Any info appreciated…Ed

    • Hey Ed,

      That’s really weird. If you can send some clear pictures to the email address listed in the contact section I’ll see what I can do to help you out. I’d need clear photos of the front, back, bottom, top and sides of the tax strip. Cheers!

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