Abraham Bowman Vanilla Bean / Coffee Finish

Thanks to /u/Marcovici and /u/I_SAID_NO_GOLDFISH for these samples.

I am a firm believer that when a company stops innovating, they stop living.

Look at Blackberry. As a fellow Ontarian, and someone who lost money on them, I can say that I’m disappointed in what they wrought. They were the brand leader of a product no one else had. And then what? They… did nothing until larger companies caught up and surpassed them.

Now it’s a joke on Mr. Robot to have a Blackberry. In my professional lifetime I’ve watched a company go from the “IT” company in Canada to a sad reminder of what happens when you just stick with the Status Quo.

I could have added in Zeller’s and Target Canada above and said the same.

I could also add in Ardbeg as well.

But I can’t add in those angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night at Abraham Bowman. No those crazy nuts aren’t going to the point of fishsky, however they are coming close.

I’ve previously talked about Abraham Bowman before in two other posts (see below). What I’m impressed by the most is their odd combinations.

Today I’ll be reviewing two of them. And while I may not like all the decisions made in making each of these limited editions, I surely can’t lump them in with a lazy company.

AB Vanilla Bean 2.jpg

Abraham Bowman Vanilla Bean sounds vile, when you first read about it. I’m not going to pull any punches: This sounds like one of the many mistakes I’ll make while reviewing flavoured whiskeys.

However digging deeper into how this was made sheds some light on the situation. In Oct. 2012, vanilla beans from Madagascar were chopped up and added to the barrels. So this isn’t beaver anus. That’s a relief.

They even added it at various levels to multiple barrels, testing it every 10 weeks. After 2 years of this, the barrels were blended and watered down to give us this bourbon.

This both makes me happy and kinda worries me. I’m happy that the sheer amount of work that went into this bore fruit. It seems like a lot, however gives me hope it’ll taste better than some shitty flavoured whiskey.

It also worries me because I’ve read before of “great whiskey” being watered down and then not tasting as great anymore. The non-barrel strength limited edition train is something I’m not too happy about. I don’t think it automatically means this will taste poor; I just fear it, like pissing myself while plugging something in.

So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

AB Vanilla Bean 1.jpg

Price: N/A in Ontario

Region: Virginia

Abv: 45%

Colour: 10TR 7/10

Nose: Burn, vanilla pudding, pear, orchid, creme brulée, mint

Initially there’s a burn. Which normally I’d be worried about, however here it wasn’t initially vanilla, so… good sign? Maybe?

Quite creamy vanilla. And it doesn’t overtake the whole thing. There’s floral notes, and even some sharp pear/mint flavours. I don’t love it, and it’s quite jarring, however I’m surprised this is flavoured.

Taste: Floral, plum, a metric shit ton of butter, oak

The elephant in the room is endangered, Because it’s going to die of a heart attack due to the amount of butter.

Because this tastes like butter. Only like butter. I can get some other elements, some of which are vanilla based and some of which are ones I remember from the whiskey in the past releases.

However yes, this is a mouth full of melted butter.

Finish: Floral, molasses, cocoa, dusty, vanilla

Finishes off kinda musty. Has this deep flavour to it. I jump between enjoying it and not so much. Have trouble with it. Almost like a floral rum in some ways, but simple and kinda has that taste in your mouth when you walk through a spider web.

Conclusion: The pros on this one? It isn’t a flavoured whiskey in the normal fashion. It’s quite tasty, and has taken more of the floral elements of the vanilla rather than the over-the-top-complicated flavour of it.

That said, while the nose is excellent, the taste is all butter. I love butter, as my weight can attest, but it’s unbalanced. And the finish is all over the place for me.

I don’t hate this release, but I don’t love it either. I think there’s worse to drink out there. I applaud the amount of hard work that went into an interesting dram. I just don’t feel it was as good as it could have been.


ab coffee finish 2.png

First off, I’d like to apologize for stealing the picture of Abraham Bowman Coffee Finish. It’s a bitch pain in the ass to find a generic picture anywhere of this. If the owner would like me to take it down, I’m more than happy to take it from Imgur and my WordPress.

So, is this a flavoured whiskey? The answer is no sir! And if you’re not up to being called sir, then no mam! And if you don’t like that either, no buoy (the Atlantic way, not the racist way)! And if that doesn’t float your boat, then a simple No is all I can offer.

Instead this is an interesting process from Bowman and Rick Roasters.First Bowman gives them three barrels: One that had 7 year old whiskey in it, and two that had 8 year old whiskey in it. Each of them Standard American oak barrels, #3 char. I hope that makes more sense to you, as I am quite behind on memorizing char levels.

Shame on me.

Then they let the barrels fight. It’s quite dazzling for three inanimate objects. Reminds you of the first time you saw the Matrix, except without motion.

After that the Coffee Company packs them full of Roasted beans. Well after aging in the barrels they then dump them out and hand them back to Bowman.

Bowman then takes a 9 year old whiskey and ages it in the ex-coffee barrel for another 6 months.

That’s impressive. So this isn’t a flavoured whiskey, it’s a finished whiskey. I’ve only had one other coffee finished whiskey, and the barrels in that case had espresso prepared and poured right into it. What I’m saying is: I’m not wearing underwear.

Also I’ve never had something like this before. So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

AB Coffee Finish 1.jpg

Price: N/A

Bottle: 206

Region: Virginia

Abv: 67.3%

Colour: 5YR 2/6

Nose: Cinnamon, coffee, sea salt taffy, jalapeno, hot, anise, ginger, wood, radish

Okay, I’m floored right now. Right on the floor. So floored the floor is jealous of me being so floored with the floor.

Yes, there’s aspects of coffee here. However to say that’s the main point is false. There’s this hot, hot, spicy, hot jalapeno flavour that blows me away. I love it. It works so well with the spice and wood. Almost pairs really well. Slightly dominating, in the same way Christian Grey was slightly dominating.

Taste: Jalapeno, espresso, caramel, peach, oak, butter, cereal, cucumber

Really hot. I know, I know: It’s over 135 proof, of course it’s hot. But it’s not alcohol hot, it’s spicy, “I just found a good Thai restaurant for once” hot.

As time goes on the earthy aspects are more dominant. I really do enjoy that aspect. Almost like going hot to cold while eating.

And as a note: I don’t mean to say I hate Thai food or Thai food is bad. More so, in my experience, Thai restaurants in Canada are either really, really good, or so meh that I don’t want to go back.

Finish; Caramel, carrot cake, peach, spearmint, currant, wood, coffee

I’m somewhat sad at the end. Don’t get me wrong, the whole dram has been tasty, and there’s complex flavours that can only come from coffee in this one, however I feel like it ends too much like a high proof bourbon.

That’s not a bad thing, per say. Like having someone finish you off with their mouth isn’t a bad thing, per say. I’m just saying if she was doing some crazy shit with her dick before that and then you just finish in the usual, great way, you’d be let down.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. It’s tasty, sweet, and has a nice finish. I just wished for more coffee flavours, that’s all.

Conclusion: This is amazing. Honestly I don’t know why anyone isn’t trying this type of cask finish more often.

Side note: I actually had a coffee bean skin floating in the dram. Really cool.

I’m really blown away. It tasted so much like jalapeno and coffee and everything in between. It was unique and starting to be really, really complex. It’s a must buy if I ever happen upon one. I feel privileged even trying it, it was that good.


Bourbon reviews #111-112, Virginia reviews #6-7, Whiskey Network review #680-81

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