Virginia Gentleman

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Virginia Gentleman
Virginia Gentleman.jpg
Virginia Gentleman
Type Bourbon whiskey
Manufacturer Sazerac Company
Country of origin Virginia, United States
Alcohol by volume 40.00%
Proof 80
Related products Buffalo Trace

Virginia Gentleman is a brand of bourbon whiskey. This bourbon is distilled in Kentucky, and re-distilled in the adjoining state of Virginia. This beverage has had something of a following typical of some smaller-brand alcoholic beverages.[citation needed] The brand's motto was "The Aristocrat of Them All" (sometimes rendered as "The Aristocrats of Them All" when advertised with Smith Bowman Distilleries' Fairfax County Bourbon).[1]

Expressions and awards[edit]

In addition to the 80-proof (40 percent alcohol) presentation, the distillery also offers a 90-proof small batch whiskey. Both are triple-distilled. The Virginia Gentleman small-batch 90-proof whiskey won Double Gold and Best American Whiskey awards at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.[2] Although it won a double gold at the same competition in 2006, its performance in other years has been quite variable. It received silver medals in 2005 and 2009 and a bronze medal in 2007.[3] In 2007, another spirit ratings organization—the Beverage Testing Insititute—awarded the 90-proof a middling score of 87 on its 100-point scale.[3]

History[edit]

Virginia Gentleman's producer, A. Smith Bowman Distillery, was founded in 1934[4] by Abram Smith Bowman and his sons, Smith and DeLong. It was originally based on the Bowman family's Sunset Hills Farm in Fairfax County, Virginia, in what later became the planned community of Reston. In 1988, it relocated to Spotsylvania County, near Fredericksburg, into the former FMC Corp. cellophane plant. The distillery previously was an independent family operation, but it has been owned since 2003 by the Buffalo Trace Distillery of Frankfort, Kentucky, which provides the unfinished distillate that becomes Virginia Gentleman. (Buffalo Trace is itself a unit of Sazerac Company, an international beverage corporation based in Metairie, Louisiana.) The company has since expanded its production into hot sauces and barbecue sauces under the Virginia Gentleman label.

Virginia Gentleman's former label was a source of controversy[citation needed] as it depicted a Revolution-era scene of two white men being served by a black footman (presumably a slave), all three in aristocratic dress, standing in front of a plantation-style manor.[5] By at least the 1970s the label was redesigned somewhat, the most obvious difference being the change of the black footman to a white one.[6] Virginia Gentleman's motto, "The Aristocrat of Them All," was discontinued some time after, at least from appearing on the label. The current label (as of 2014) depicts three men in a similar arrangement, none of which are rendered as being black or being a servant.

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