It’s party day here at Talking Bourbon. Today TB is out on a boat with some good friends on beautiful Monroe Reservoir. There is a lot of people here today helping with the tasting, so some had to be grouped together. We have couples Rod and Shelly(Rolly), Dave and Kelsey(Dork), as well as Clark and Erica(Clerica). Also helping is Susie, henceforth referred to as Q.
We are tasting a bottle that TB saw and bought for the first time in, of all places, a grocery store. Stonehammer Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Distiller’s Reserve is a brand that none of us here has heard of, including yours truly Talking Bourbon. We could find almost nothing about this Bourbon online. The bottle states it was named after some Kentucky governor who was nick named Old Stone Hammer, anyway.
Stonehammer comes in an ordinary non descript looking corked bottle that sells for around $19 for the 750 ml. It is bottled at 90 proof and has no age statement but should be at least 4 years old. TB is not really sure about the availability seeing as how this is the first time we have ever seen it.
A note on price, the supermarket that Stonehammer was purchased gives a 15% discount if buying 6 or more bottle of any kind of liquor, which TB did, thus bringing the price down below $17.
Q: Butterscotch seems to be the most prevalent. Also pick up some anise, pepper and hazelnut.
Rolly: A fruity sweet smell reminiscent of a caramel apple.
Clerica: Vanilla, almonds and maple. Also get some light aromas of pepper and caramel.
Dork: We also get the caramel and butterscotch along with a banana scent.
TB: A smooth sweet aroma with maple and butterscotch up front with a slight hint of caramel just behind that.
Q: Mostly just pepper and vanilla, strange I didn’t taste the butterscotch that I got so strong on the nose.
Rolly: Oak, leather and vanilla up front, not much else as far as secondary flavors. Too hot neat, reminds us of rubbing alcohol.
Clerica: Caramel and some oak, not to be argumentative but we like it better neat.
Dork: We also like better neat even though it is pretty warm going down. Taste caramel and some type of wood. We taste the butterscotch we got on the nose.
TB: Little hot neat for 90 proof. Taste the caramel and wood. Also get a little vanilla and some type of non pepper spice.
Q: It seems to me to be a long finish with a hint of cinnamon.
Rolly: Medium to short with not much to add in the way of taste.
Clerica: Agree, medium short with not much going on.
Dork: Medium with a little pepper and ethanol.
TB: Warm, medium long finish with a touch of vanilla and that same spice that I couldn’t identify on the taste.
Q: I liked it and would buy a bottle.
Rolly: We liked it as well but would probably only use as a mixer.
Clerica: Just okay, would pay a few more dollars and get something I liked better.
Dork: We liked it, especially on ice, would definitely buy.
TB: A little on the sweet side, almost reminded one of a wheated Bourbon. Having said that there is nothing wrong with sweet Bourbon. At under $20 it is a pretty decent buy.
Nose 3.75 out of 5
Taste 7.25 out of 10
Finish 3 out of 5
Total Score 14 out of 20 barrels
Well as you can see, when a lot of people get together there are a lot of different opinions. After a decent nose, it does seem that most of us were expecting a little more from the taste and finish. But as TB tried to tell them, it is getting real hard to find a good Bourbon under $20, let alone under $17. Having said that, Talking Bourbon would have probably rated this a little higher if tasted alone.
Stonehammer is a little too sweet to mix with cola or any surgery drink but does fine with water or neat. It also makes a decent Manhattan and is at a price point that you don’t mind mixing.
Final word, if you like your Bourbon on the sweeter side, at under $20 you really should give it a try. If not to your liking then you are not out much.