The Bourbon World Loses a Great Man – Truman Cox

Truman Cox Master Distiller

Photo courtesy Buffalo Trace Distillery

Sometimes life can be unfair, and good people are taken from us far too early.  This is unfortunately what has happened to Truman Cox, who has passed away at age 44.

Truman was the master distiller of the A. Smith Bowman Distillery.  Truman’s background was in chemistry, earning his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Central Florida.  In 2004, he became the Quality Chemist for Buffalo Trace Distillery.  After working underneath many of the most innovative master distillers in the industry, Truman earned the role of master distiller at A. Smith Bowman.

I had the pleasure of meeting Truman for the first time at Whiskey Fest 2011.  I wrote a post about it and shared an anecdote about a bourbon thief trying to steal a bottle, only to have his plan thwarted by a man “the size of a truck”.  That man happened to be Truman.

The second time I met Truman was at the A. Smith Bowman distillery.  Despite being in the middle of their busiest two weeks of the year, Truman gave me a private tour of the facility without hesitation.  I was blown away by his kindness, knowledge, and overall likability.  He went far and above my expectations to ensure that I got the most out of my tour.

Truman’s passion for the art of distillation certainly shows up in the whiskey he made.  John J. Bowman bourbon is still my #4 rated whiskey (#2 bourbon) and his other expressions are not far behind.

Although I knew Truman far less than many other people, it is quite evident by the number of blog posts, tweets, and Facebook shares that he was loved and respected both in and out of the whiskey community.  My thoughts over the past couple of days have been with his wife and daughter who I hope can find some peace in knowing that Truman touched a lot of people in this world.




    • Dan Williams on February 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    • Reply

    Very well said Ryan. As you know, Truman was my friend. It was funny as hell watching him run after that would be whiskey thief, confront him and give him a little chest bump … Well, in all honesty, belly bump.

    While I was employed at Buffalo Trace, Truman and I visited each time I was at the distillery. Your description is spot on. Long before he earned the title Master Distiller, I knew him with a white lab coat in charge of everything in QC and analysis. His boss was Drew Mayville, another gentleman who at one time worked, as I did, for Seagram. Drew is from Canada and was the man behind Crown Royal. Together they were a dynamic duo in innovation. I sent a note to Drew this morning.

    Some folks overlooked Truman as unimportant, and he was humble enough never to demand attention. I saw something in him …. A good soul, someone who was simply a pleasure with which to chew the fat. As you, I see now that I wasn’t the only one who saw something special.

    In light of this, I am so happy to have spent that hour or so with he and you at Whiskey Fest. My memory of him will now be those moments full of laughter and a shared dram or three.

    See you down the road Truman!

    1. Dan, it was wonderful to read your comment to Ryan’s tribute to Truman. As you might imagine, we have been in shock all week here at BTD, and several of our co-workers are in Fredericksburg today for Truman’s funeral this afternoon. We are simply stunned and deeply grieved to have lost such a wonderful man, with such a wonderful family. Our thoughts and prayers have been with Susan and Emmy, and will continue to be, as well as with Truman’s many, many friends and family. Although we will one day appoint a new Master Distiller at A. Smith Bowman, we will never find another Truman…he was the best, and is irreplaceable. He will be missed for a very long time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.