We were strolling through a grocery store liquor section a few months back and my trusty sidekick noticed this bottle. She grabbed it for herself and said I could share a taste. While Kroger green beans can easily stand up to Green Giant, I wondered how this grocery-store bourbon would impress or underwhelm me.
The label tells the story of US Representative, senator and 10th governor of Kentucky Thomas Metcalfe, who lived from 1780 – 1855. In his early years, he worked as a stonemason. Upon winning the governor’s race in 1828, his opponent mocked his early years, earning him the nickname “Old Stone Hammer“. As a governor, Metcalfe’s toughness allowed him to accomplish many improvements for Kentucky. In honor of a job well-done, StoneHammer bourbon was crafted by the Clear Springs Distilling Company of Louisville, KY (noted as the bottler).
This bourbon is bottled at 90-proof with no indication of who distilled the product or how long it was aged. As a “Kroger-exclusive” product, I was wondering who exactly is Clear Springs Distilling Company. A quick search shared an interesting background. Clear Springs was once owned by Jim Beam, but was subsequently sold to Buffalo Trace. They make several store-brands, including some for Costco. I’ve notice a few other similar brands at my local grocery stores wearing a similar bottled-by label, as well.
Eye: Light copper and straw-like. This looks young.
Nose: Butterscotch and toffee notes with a good dose of corn and some oak notes.
Palate: Really sweet. Almost too sweet. There’s some saltiness, too, in the mouthfeel, so you almost get a salted caramel flavor.
Finish: Medium. A fair amount of heat and spice with a splash of alcohol notes and a sweet-dry woodsy finish.
Overall: This isn’t a bad bourbon – I suspect it’s young. For a $17 – $20 price point, it’s fine. I just like others better or would rather pay a few dollars more for something just a tad more interesting. The one ironic note is the Beam-Buffalo background to this company. I was leaning towards some Barton notes in it, but also caught a lot of the typical Beam sweetness.
If you catch this at local Kroger, check it out. It’s not bad neat or with a cube. With the heavy dose of sweetness, this might not be the best bourbon & coke mixer. All in all, not bad – but also pretty straightforward. An easy sipper that’s easy on the wallet, too.