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George T. Stagg built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century, during a time known as the Gilded Age of Bourbon. Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of the man himself.
STAGG JR. – BATCH #11 BOURBON
NOSE: Cherry | Vanilla | Oak | Honey
TASTE: Vanilla | Nuts | Pepper | Cherry Pie Filling
FINISH: Less burn than you’d guess from the proof, with long-lasting cherry vanilla and pepper.
SHARE WITH: Fans of barrel proof whiskeys
WORTH THE PRICE: Most definitely
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle, this is one of the better releases of Stagg, Jr.
OVERALL: When Stagg, Jr. was first released, it was pretty much a hot mess. Buffalo Trace tried capitalizing on George T. Stagg with a much younger release. Some folks who had those first releases were so turned off they haven’t come back.
And, then, there are those of us who #DrinkCurious.
Stagg, Jr. has come a long way since that initial release in 2013. Buffalo Trace blesses us with a new release twice a year: Spring and Fall. The most current release, Batch 11 (Fall 2018), weighs in at 127.9° and is the second-lowest proof of all releases. The highest was Batch 1 at 134.4°. While there is no age statement on the bottle, Stagg, Jr. is typically a blend of eight- and nine-year-old barrels distilled from Buffalo Trace’s #1 low-rye mash bill. This is the same mash as its namesake.
My favorite release of Stagg, Jr. was 131.9° (Fall 2017). I was extremely excited when I was able to purchase the latest. On a side-note, you’ll find many folks refer to Stagg, Jr. as allocated and while that’s true in a sense, it isn’t overly difficult to find. I’ve also seen the price vary between $49.99 and $69.99, usually about the middle of the two.
So, how does 127.9° compare to 131.9°? The only way to know for sure is to drink up.
In my Glencairn glass, the appearance was very dark amber. It left an ultra-thin rim on my glass that yielded slow, fat legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
The nose was an amazing cherry bomb. However, underneath all that cherry was vanilla, oak and honey. When I inhaled through my mouth, it was all very thick vanilla.
The mouthfeel was thin and light, something very strange for Stagg, Jr. Flavors of vanilla and nuts were at the front palate. That was followed by a peppery middle. What happened to all of that cherry? If the nose was a cherry bomb, the back palate was cherry syrup. I don’t mean the gross kind that they make cough medicine from, or even the stuff you find in cherry cola. Rather, this is like taking a spoonful of cherry pie filling. It washed through everything else, at least initially… which, of course, requires an explanation of the finish.
If you assume that this will go down your throat like fire due to the proof, you’d be way off base. I was shocked at how easy it was to sip. That cherry pie filling was reintroduced to the vanilla, creating an almost cherry vanilla ice cream experience. Then, while you settle on the fact it is over and done with, about 30 seconds later, pepper comes back to warm your throat.
Overall, I’m convinced Buffalo Trace has their game together with Stagg, Jr. On the Bottle, Bar or Bust scale, this is a very solid Bottle recommendation. This most recent release isn’t my overall favorite as it did not eclipse 131.9°’s profile, but I’d place this one in the Top three batches.