Review: Bogue Sound Distillery John A.P. Conoley Bourbon Whiskey

DSR – NC – 004: John A.P. Conoley Bourbon Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Bogue Sound Distillery

Location: Bogue, NC

Mash Bill: Unkown; At least 51% corn.

Age Statement: No Age Statement

Proof/ABV: 105 Proof/52.5% ABV

Color: Warm Copper

Purchase Price: $25.95 from NC ABC Store 3/26/2020

Bottle Label Information:

Neck Label: Bogue Sound Distillery

Front Label: “American Small Batch”

“Distilled From Grains”

“Bogue Sound Distillery – Crafting Quality Spirits”

Back Label: “This Bourbon Whiskey is distilled from locally sourced grains. Named for John A.P. Conoley and crafted in the United States, this fine whiskey’s journey began when John’s father-in-law transported a still from Scotland to America to produce whiskey and brandy to provide for his family. The still was housed in John and Sara Conoley’s barn until it was stolen, later confiscated by a local sheriff and ultimately donated to a museum in Raleigh. John A.P. Conoley American Bourbon Whiskey is rich in history and smooth in taste.”

“Produced and Bottled by: Bogue Sound Distillery, Bogue, NC 28570 “

“Batch No. 12; Bottle No. 133”

Distillery Background

Bogue Sound Distillery

Bogue Sound Distillery, located just across the Bogue Sound and Emerald Isle, was formally opened in May 2018 by Richard and Margaret Chapman. Mr. Chapman, a member of the North Carolina State University Wolfpack football team from 1965-1968, enjoyed a successful career in textiles, construction, and real estate prior to launching the distillery.

One thing that becomes instantly clear upon researching Bogue Sound Distillery is that they have a great passion and zeal for sharing and celebrating their family history of distilling. On site at the distillery, Mr. Chapman has a museum built to showcase stills from the 1700 and 1800’s, a 1923 Ford Model-T pickup used to run moonshine, and a 1900 grist mill.

Bogue Sound Distillery prides itself on being a self-sustaining process. “The whole process, from grinding the grain to bottling and labeling takes place right here at Bogue Sound Distillery. Our quality spirits are free of sugar and made from only the best grains available. We practice safe-distilling using methods like low-pressure steam cooking.  And we work to be environmentally friendly through process improvements like utilizing rainwater to cool all of our equipment.”

In addition to John A.P. Conoley American Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey, Bogue sound also distills Vitzellen Vodka, Bombshell Gin, John A.P. Conoley Salted Caramel Spirit, and most recently John A.P. Conoley Carolina Peanut Butter Whiskey. Additional information on Bogue Sound Distillery and their offerings can be found at

John A.P. Conoley Bourbon Whiskey

Who is John A.P. Conoley anyway? According to Bogue Sound Distillery, John Alexander Patterson Conoley was a Civil War soldier who, along with Company D of the Second North Carolina Calvary, fought under well known General J.E.B. Stuart of Northern Virginia. He was part of several infamous battles including Richmond and Gettysburg. Conoley found himself concussed and injured during battle and was nursed back to health by a Union Nurse named Vitzellen, the namesake of their vodka offering. After his service, John A.P. Conoley decided to return to a life of farming, which he did until his death in 1904.

For Additional information about John A.P. Conoley, Vitzellen, and the stolen still from Scotland visit the Bogue Sound Distillery history archives.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: March 26, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass


Christian: This bourbon hits you with a punch of cherries and oak instantly. Light hints of raisins, vanilla, and tobacco. Very sweet on the nose. Addition of water freshens up the nose some. Sweetness intensifies considerably as an aroma of brown sugar rises to the forefront.

Mike: Floral and peach initially hit me then succumb to traces of honey, oats and oak with a subtle wispy burn of alcohol.


Christian: Surprisingly, this feels very thin to me. Bourbon is very sweet at first taste. Strong leather flavor – almost like you have genuine leather in your mouth. An unexpected and unusual, yet pleasant, smokiness as the bourbon moves down the palate. Reminds me a lot of a campfire smell. Addition of water makes mouth feel become buttery. The taste of leather remains strong.

Mike: An immediate sweetness that gives way to a slight spicy smokiness. Hints of wood, perhaps cedar, with some minor earthy qualities. Picking up a delicate nutty essence as it lingers in my mouth. This bourbon is thick and oily on the tongue and there is soft bitterness that lingers with larger tastes.  A few drops of water add a cinnamon spiciness that reminded me of red hots.  


Christian: Extremely short finish. Does not drink like a 105 proof bourbon. Little to no burn. As the flavor dissipates detected a slight hint of coffee. Addition of water really ramps this one up. Strangely, it seemed as if they spirit became more spicy. Earthy leather undertones remained.

Mike: Long, slow, and gentle burn down my throat and into my chest. Very warm and inviting.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: This is a decent pour. Young (their website indicates less than 2 years old) and high proof, however, doesn’t show it. Really drinks like a more mature well aged bourbon. Smokey campfire taste is different, unexpected, yet enjoyable. Priced at $25, this bourbon is easy to try and experiment without a substantial investment. Would really like to see how this bourbon would stand up if it had a little more age on it.

Rating: 3 Rickhouses

Mike: This is a good sipping bourbon that I enjoyed neat. The proof is higher (105) and I generally prefer 100 or higher expressions. I did not overly appreciate the bitterness that accompanied larger sips, but it was not completely off-putting. This presents itself as a bourbon that’s been aged 3-4 years. It retails for $25 in North Carolina and that is a bargain for this product, in my opinion!

Rating: 3 Rickhouses

Conclusion: It would be fair to say that we entered this review with a fair amount of skeptisim. We had heard very little about this distillery or any of their products. Honestly, we were at the ABC store looking at the North Carolina offerings, saw the proof on the bottle, and decided to take a chance. Boy are we glad we did!

Bogue Sound Distillery’s John A.P. Conoley is a very enjoyable bourbon. The balance and depth in flavors were pleasant and unexpected. The transition of sweetness on the nose to leather in the mouth and the surprising smokiness in the finish really made this a good tasting experience.

At just over $25 per a bottle and 105 proof, this bottle is a steal. It came with low risk (money wise) but delivered a high reward. The bourbon is a quality every day drinker that we will have no problem keeping on our shelf. Mr. Chapman has really unlocked a nice tasty product. Grab yourself a bottle and enjoy the journey! We don’t think you will be disappointed.


6 thoughts on “Review: Bogue Sound Distillery John A.P. Conoley Bourbon Whiskey

  1. Thanks for this review, Rickhouse! It’s nice to find reviews of whiskey in the budget-friendly arena from time to time. Some days a fellow just wants a cheaper pour. Found a bottle on the discount shelf the other day, and look forward to trying it soon.

  2. Agree wholeheartedly. It is sweeter than I would typically appreciate, but on the other hand it lends itself to Autumn/Winter after meal sipping at the fire. Really like the smoke. The cherries do hit hard but not enough to dissuade me from the $26 bargain. Thanks, fellas.

  3. does the delicious peanut butter whisky or the little jelly bottle that comes with it, have high frutose corn surup?

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