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Clark & Sheffield Bottled-in-Bond

In today’s inflationary times, don’t overlook “store brands” or “house brands” of bourbon. A buddy recently texted me with a picture from Sam’s Club wondering if their Member’s Mark bourbon, produced by the Barton 1797 Distillery, was the “same juice” sold by Costco that everyone was raving about. Today, we take a look at another “house brand” - Clark & Sheffield Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon - also produced by Barton. 



The Champagne of the Chicago Cubs 


It’s baseball time here in the Midwest, and I confess that I’m a longtime Chicago Cubs fan. The telecasts are peppered with commercials for Binny’s - a Midwestern chain of liquor stores - advertising they are the official provider of champagne for the Cubs. 


Binny’s traces its roots back to the original store at the corner of Clark & Sheffield Street - just a hop, skip, and a jump from Wrigley Field and the home of the Cubs. This bourbon from Binny’s marks the third in its Clark & Sheffield Series, which include a straight bourbon and a single barrel expression.


The Tasting    


One of the things I like about the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 is that it requires the producing distillery to be named. While some house brands or new brands spring up with often an interesting story of an “old family recipe” or a distant distilling relative, some don’t disclose where the product is from or the mash bill that was used.


As a quick reminder, the Bottled-in-Bond Act was signed into law on March 3, 1897 and contained several provisions:


  • It must be produced at the same distillery by the same distiller (no “blending”).

  • It must contain no additional substances or material (no added colors, flavors, and the like - only water may be added to bring it to its final proof).

  • It must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse under federal governmental supervision for at least 4 years.

  • It must include a tax stamp over the bottle closure, including the registered distillery number along with the name of the actual distiller and the season in which it was distilled.

  • It must be bottled at exactly 100 proof.


So to that end, I appreciate the Bottled-in-Bond Act, which ensures me bourbon that is at least 4 years old and is bottled at a proof that is versatile for pours that are neat or on ice, as well as a cocktail. Lastly, this bourbon is packaged in an attractive, short, squat bottle and identifies the Barton 1792 Distillery in large print on the front label. Similar to other products from Sazerac, including those made at Barton and the Buffalo Trace Distillery, there is no indication of the contents of the mash bill. 


Eye:  Amber. A host of lacy legs line the inside of my Glencairn glass.


Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and banana are present. I’m reminded of those candy-marshmallow-flavored Circus Peanuts I gobbled up as a youngster.  


Palate: A savory mouthfeel with vanilla and toasted oak, followed by more light banana notes balanced with charred oak and spice.


Finish: Medium with oak and cinnamon balanced with those same tropical banana notes.


Overall: Compared to its single barrel sibling, I found this an enjoyable pour, available for $30 at my local store. Now, if you’re not a banana fan, this might not be to your liking. I know that sometimes, depending on my palate, I’ll get some similar banana-notes from Old Forester. That said, though, this is not an overwhelming tropical display, and, honestly, this is absolutely great for a summertime pour. 


Does this beat one of my favorites - Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond? Ummmm - probably not - especially when I can find that for sub-$20 at a national discount store. But, for the price and availability compared to 1792 Bottled-in-Bond (at $40), this store brand is a pretty fair deal and a way to enjoy a higher proof product from Barton on a budget. Be on the lookout in these inflationary times and consider a store brand - especially when it meets the requirements of the Bottled-in-Bond Act and fully discloses the distiller.

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