Its been quite a while since I’ve posted, but I’m back. Unfortunately, been to busy to drink and write, but now trying to get back into it. On a positive note, I do have lots of notes on whiskeys that are ready to turn into reviews.
Today’s is a real brute – Stagg Jr from Buffalo Trace Distillery. It was first released in 2013 as the little brother of Buffalo Trace’s George T. Stagg Bourbon, which is a once-a-year release of 14-17 year old uncut, unfiltered bourbon that averages around a holy hazardous proof of 130-140. Stagg Jr is the same but about half that age, with batches released twice a year, and proofs are closer to 130-132 proof (the difference in the proof from George T. Stagg is probably the age – perhaps there has been less time for the angels to take water content from the whiskey, thereby producing a lower proof). As of this writing, there has been nine batches released. It uses Buffalo Trace’s mashbill #1, which is lower in rye. It sells for around $50-60.
My bottle was from batch #6, which clocks in at a whopping 132.5 proof. And that proof rears its head with this stuff.
On the nose, there is ALCOHOL. It is hot. If you put your nose too far in the glass, your nose hair will spontaneously combust. With the nose out a bit, I get tobacco, sawdust, leather, burnt brown sugar, and lesser amounts of the usual buffalo Trace caramel and vanilla.
On the palate, I get ALCOHOL. It burns. Beyond the burn is pepper, tobacco, wood, slight vanilla. The finish is lengthy, dry, slightly sour, with wood and an antiseptic flavor.
So now with some water added. This brings to the nose some banana bread and more caramel. But as the alcohol subsides, some acetone appears. The palate becomes more manageable, the mouthfeel more viscous. The palate also has more caramel working with the dry oakiness, and the finish also brings more sweetness, but again with that acetone. But it still has a dry, oaky, slightly bitter, burnt brown sugar and peppery taste and finish. So it might as well be drank without water to get the full effect.
As you can see in the picture above, I waited till the bottle was gone before writing this review. I really wanted to get my hands around this one, but had trouble doing so. It was just so much pepper and heat. On one hand, I do have to recommend you check this one out, because it is a big barrel-proof strong bourbon with a good amount of age at a fair price point. It has commendable qualities. But I’m just not that impressed. I think Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is way better, if you can find it, with way more in-your-face flavor to go with the heat (its also older, 12 years). I also prefer Knob Creek Single Barrel, especially if you can find a store pick that is older than 9 years & clocks in at 120 proof, and is also about $10-15 cheaper. I find the heat to be less evident with that one, perhaps because of all the caramel sweetness. I know some like this one alot, and if you like bourbons with lotsa dry heat, go for it. I will have to try another batch in the future to see if my opinions change. For now, I’m actually somewhat relieved to be done with this bottle. Its been a lot of work. I guess somebody’s gotta do it tho.