Let’s Talk Craft Distilleries: Stumpy’s Spirits.
Written by: Colonel Steve Akley
1727 Centerville Road
Columbia, Illinois 62236
Owners: Adam & Laura Stumpf
Follow Stumpy’s Spirits Journey Online:
The phrase, “Grain-to-Glass” is used excessively to describe distilleries in the distilled spirits world. It’s one of those undefined/unregulated phrases in the industry, like small batch. What is “small batch” when you see it on a bourbon label? Whatever the distillery wants it to be. A “small batch” for some of the larger distillers might exceed the output of a craft distillery in a year.
Rarely is a distillery growing its grains, so calling it “grain-to-glass” is a bit of a stretch. (Not a lie, mind you… since this is an unregulated phrase, a distillery using it can define it themselves and they are likely referring to sourcing grains locally.)
Unlike most, Stumpy’s is a true “Grain-to-Glass” distillery; they are growing all of the grains in their products. While there are many positives to doing so, it does cause its own unique issues. For instance, you have to plan what you will be growing at least a year ahead of time. You aren’t just buying grains on the open market, so you are planning in advance. You also have all of the issues farmer’s face: weather, machinery breakdowns, infestation issues, critter-share (deer, bunnies, groundhogs doing a little pre-whiskey sampling of your grains).
Everything is done onsite at the Stumpf family farm... from growing the grains, to milling, mashing, distilling, aging the whiskey, bottling and even selling at their gift shop. Despite the perfect set-up, Adam and Laura had never intended to open a distillery. In fact, while Adam had toyed with distilling spirits while at Missouri Science & Technology (Rolla, MO) while studying engineering, he became more involved in brewing beer and eventually went to work for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis.
While working at AB, Adam kept going back to a project he had done in college, though. He had been assigned to do a complete business plan and he had written up the idea for a craft distillery on the family farm. As he kept thinking about it, he pulled it out and began to showing it to people… friends, family, neighbors, co-workers. Everyone told him it was a great idea and he should pursue it. Those are all pretty friendly advisors, though. He then began getting a little more serious showing it to business advisors and mentors and they too, were in agreement, he had a solid model for a sustainable business.
With a great job at Anheuser-Busch, Adam and Laura decided it would be a good idea to ease into distillery ownership. Work at building it on weekends and in their spare time. Get it up-and-running and have Adam work there in the evenings and Laura could manage it during the day. It would be a nice “side hustle” until they built it up to the point where they could both do it full-time.
At least, that was the plan…
One day at work, Adam got called into a conference room. He hadn’t realized own a distilled spirits company would be a conflict working for a brewery. He was given a choice: stop the plans for the distillery or leave Anheuser-Busch.
It was an awkward call to Laura in the car that afternoon. They were officially full-time distillery owners!
Adam and Laura officially opened their doors in 2015 and have already gone through several expansions since opening. Currently, they are in the process of raising production from 5 barrels a week to 50!
A stop by Stumpy’s Spirits involves a tour of the facility, tastings and a gift shop loaded with Stumpy’smerchandise. Be sure to say hello to Adam, Laura as well as distillery cats, Barley and Wheatie.
Old Monroe Single Barrel Select Bourbon (90 proof)
Old Monroe White Whiskey (100 proof)
Old Monroe Pecan Pie Flavored Whiskey (60 proof)
Old Monroe Lemon Drop Flavored Whiskey (60 proof)
Old Monroe Honey Flavored Whiskey (60 proof)
Unbroken Vodka (80 proof) (a season peach vodka using locally sourced peaches is very popular as well)
The Stumpy’s product I am reviewing is Old Monroe, their flagship bourbon. Old Monroe retails for about $32 (750 ml bottle) and it is a wheated bourbon. This is a single barrel product and it the bottle has the barrel number on it. This is from barrel #100. It’s always fun to ask Adam about the individual barrels as he seems to have a photographic memory of all of them and he can share specific details about the barrel… like interesting tasting notes, what equipment it was made on, that type of thing. Here’s a look at my review:
Caramel candy and vanilla. All. Day. Long. Secondary nosing yielded hints of citrus and oak.
Oak, vanilla and baked goods on the tip of the tongue. Total caramel dance mid-palate. You do catch the sweet taste of wheat at the back of the palate.
Smooth as can be going down. It has complexity in that in the finish it comes back a bit mid-tongue with some tingle and does give you a whiskey hug as it goes down the inside of your chest.
This is a true gem from Stumpy’s Spirits. At only $32, it’s is equally adept as a sipper, or, if you are looking for the gentle flavor of a wheated bourbon in a cocktail it could be a mixer. If you are in Illinois or Missouri and you see a bottle, pick it up. No hesitation. Buy! If you are an online shopper, click here to buy it from the Wine and Cheese Place in St. Louis.