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Whiskey plant is sold
A. Smith Bowman Distillery, the long-time Fredericksburg area business, is being sold, but Virginia Gentleman will still be sold under that label.

 A. Smith Bowman's Imported Scotch Whiskey is one of the products being offered by the Fredericksburg area plant that has been sold.
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Date published: 12/2/2003

A. Smith Bowman Distillery, a local operation known widely for its Virginia Gentleman brand bourbon, has been sold.

Sazerac Company Inc., of New Orleans--whose products include Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint Schnapps, Tequila Herradura, and Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey--is the new owner.

The Spotsylvania County distillery's name will remain the same, and production of the Virginia Gentleman brand will continue.

The sale price was not disclosed.

Buffalo Trace Distillery, a subsidiary of Sazerac based in Frankfurt, Ky., for years has worked with Bowman Distillery.

"We've known each other for 14 years. We view it more as a partnership," Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer of Buffalo Trace and Sazerac, said yesterday at a press conference at Bowman Distillery. Joe Dangler, Bowman's distiller, who will remain with the company under Sazerac, led visitors on a tour.

"We're taking the best of what we know how to do and the best of Smith Bowman and putting it together," Brown said.

Buffalo Trace and Bowman have made the country's only triple-distilled whiskey for the length of their relationship.

The whiskey starts out at Buffalo Trace in a still. Later, it's moved to a pot still there before being shipped to Bowman. Brown said Bowman places it in a unique pot still to finish the distilling process.

The barrels here keep whiskey stored upright. In Kentucky, barrels are stored on their sides, Brown said.

He also said he hopes eventually to expand some Buffalo Trace bottling operations here. Bowman can put spirits into lightweight plastic bottles as well as glass bottles--which Buffalo Trace cannot currently do.

And Brown said the company may start producing single-barrel bourbon--meaning the spirits from one particular barrel would be bottled on their own, not mixed with the contents of other barrels. Because no two trees are alike, the acid in the wood barrels give each batch its own color and taste. So single-barrel bourbon would be one of a kind, Brown said.

Brown said no current employees will lose their jobs, but there are no plans to add to the workforce either.

John "Jay" Adams Jr., president and chief executive officer of Bowman Distillery, said the sale will mean better marketing for the Bowman brands.

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