Review: George Bowman Colonial Era Dark Caribbean Rum

DSR – VA – 021: George Bowman Colonial Era Dark Caribbean Rum

Company/Distillery: A. Smith Bowman Distillery

Location: Spotsylvania County, Fredericksburg, VA

Mash Bill: Unknown

Age Statement: No Age Statement

Proof/ABV: 80 Proof/ 40% ABV

Color: From the bottle, this George Bowman Colonial Era Rum is a beautiful mahogany color.  Viewing this rum from the tasting vessel, it presents a rich auburn hue. A thin viscous line appears when tilting the spirit up the side of the glass. The viscosity becomes thicker before small beads appear. There are really no legs to speak of with this rum, but droplets emerge and are sluggish to glide down the sides of the glass. 

Purchase Price: $29.99 from Virginia ABC; 750 ml

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label:

“Early American Import”

“George Bowman Pioneer Spirit”

“Colonial Era Dark Caribbean Rum”

“Small Batch”

Back Label:

“During the late 17th century, imported rum became exceedingly popular in Colonial America. Early estimates of rum consumption in those colonies suggested every settler drank an average of three imperial gallons of rum each year. To support this demand a substantial trade was established between the Caribbean and the American Colonies. This trade of sugar, molasses and rum was quite profitable. The Sugar Act in 1764 disrupted this trade and may have helped cause the American Revolution. Nevertheless, the popularity of rum continued. This dark imported rum commemorates George Bowman and the other early American Colonists.”

“We love to hear from our customers! 1-866-729-3722”

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Distillery Background

A. Smith Bowman Distillery

Legend has it that in 1934, A. Smith Bowman built a distillery in Fairfax County, Virginia as a way to use the surplus grain that his farm was producing. Shortly after launching the distillery, Bowman produced the first run of Virginia Gentlemen, a bourbon that is still on the market. Today, A. Smith Bowman is known for the following of its core product line: Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Isaac Bowman Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Barrels; John J. Bowman Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Deep Run Virginia Vodka; Sunset Hills Virginia Gin; George Bowman Dark Caribbean Rum; Mary Hite Bowman Caramel Bourbon Cream. In addition to those products, A. Smith Bowman regularly releases its Abraham Bowman experimental projects which have included Cider finished, Double Barrel, Port finished, Gingerbread Beer finished, Rye, Sweet, Wheat, and many more. For more information visit the A. Smith Bowman website.

A. Smith Bowman is currently led by Master Distiller Brian Prewitt. Mr. Prewitt has been at Bowman since 2013 and has helped the distillery become the “World’s Best Bourbon” at the World’s Whiskey Awards in 2016 and 2017.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: August 29, 2022 – Neat in Glencairn Glass


Christian: In the bottle, George Bowman Colonial Era Dark Caribbean Rum permeates the air with generous amounts of sweet dark molasses. In my Glencairn glass, the aromas remain sweet yet subtle. Molasses, fresh vanilla beans, ginger, and just a touch of coconut rise out of the glass. A gentle swirl allows a touch of toasted brown sugar and warm honey to join in on the nose. There is a punch of ethanol on this despite the low proof point. 

Mike: As I nose this rum from the bottle, notes of dried fruits are present. Heavy hints of raisins and prunes, then a wave of dark molasses surges and quickly recedes to sugar cane. With the glass sitting a few inches from me, it is suggestively sweet and floral. As I draw the glass closer to my nose, the traditional rubber eraser/rubber cement tone is present, but with a twang of malt vinegar detected in the background. A gentle swirl reveals molasses and brown sugar aromas with suggestions of jerk spices that transition to heavy baking spices. This sampling is very clove prominent.  


Christian: On the tongue, this rum feels silky yet offers a decent body with a light coating covering the tongue. The sweetness of this spirit dances on the palate, taking the form of molasses, honey, and dehydrated stone fruit. A second pass allows a hint of fresh cinnamon spiced tea, like a chai tea, to become present. There is a very light hint of barrel here, but it is faint and unassuming. 

Mike: As I draw the glass to my mouth and breathe in, a singe of alcohol burn is pulled through the nostrils. Semi-sweet on the front of the palate and a symphony of dried fruit flavor progresses front to back. A hint of dried apricots with a drizzle of warmed dark honey on the second pass fades to sweet molasses and a rich, strong steeped tea flavor. 


Christian: The finish on this rum is short in nature. Very little burn is present making this pour an unbelievably smooth sipper. Once again, molasses dominates on the finish, but is accompanied by flavors of apricot jam, barrel char, and dark brown sugar. As the spirit lingers, a touch of toasted coconut and ginger candy remain for some time. 

Mike: The finish of this rum is ultra-soft, very sweet from front to back with a mild warming effect in the chest. A bright honey liqueur flavor lingers with a touch of butterscotch candies and white raisins.  

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: Dark rum has become a spirit that I have found some interest in for a change of pace spirit that I can enjoy much like I do my whiskey, neat. Priced at just below $30, this George Bowman Colonial Era Dark Caribbean Rum offered a low risk gamble that was outside of the norm for our review. I am pleased with what we uncovered. A nice dark rum, in my estimation, is sweet, smooth, and crisp – offering a nice sipping experience in the hotter months of summer. I think all three of those are good adjectives for what this rum offering from A. Smith Bowman brings to the table–a nice taste of the Caribbean. Molasses is the clear dominant trait here but it combines nicely with a hint of cinnamon, stone fruits, brown sugar, and honey. This is a pour that makes me want to experiment more with other dark rum offerings while having another pour as I sit on my porch this fine late summer evening. 

Rating: 3.50 Rickhouses

Mike: This is a flavorful and well-balanced rum. Highly drinkable with rich flavors of brown sugar, molasses, and dried fruits. I love this rum offering from A. Smith Bowman neat. It would be an excellent addition to a Dark and Stormy, a holiday eggnog, or rum cake! At $29.99, this is a perfect bottle for anyone that is rum curious! 

Rating: 3.50 Rickhouses


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