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A. Smith Bowman Distillery A. SMITH BOWMAN DISTILLERY BEGAN to produce Virginia Gentleman, a 90-proof bourbon, on the grounds of an old dairy farm in the far western outskirts of Washington in 1935. By the 1980s Smith Bowman had decided that the conditions there--in a thoroughly suburbanized place known as Reston--were not to its liking. "Things in Reston were not the greatest," says Jay Adams, Smith Bowman's vice president of production. "We'd outgrown that location, and the negatives were outweighing the positives."
The negatives of producing whiskey next door to townhouse developments included the escalating value of the distillery's land and resultant high taxes, skyrocketing insurance premiums, ever increasing traffic, and a high cost of living. "As I said to several of my people, 'Name me one reason to stay," Adams recalls. "Except for the fact that we'd been there for 52 years, there was no reason anybody could come up with."
So Adams tok Virginia's only legal distillery south. He bought a 25-acre piece of the old FMC Corporation cellophane plant a mile outside of Fredericksburg in Spotsylvania County. The county had purchased the 234-acre FMC site in 1982 and renamed it Spotsylvania County Industrial Park. During its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s FMC had been the largest cellophane …