Stagg, Jr. (Batch #3)

Stagg, Jr. (Batch #3)

132.1 Proof, Unfiltered Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

The young son of Buffalo Trace Antique Collection’s George T. Stagg, Stagg, Jr. is an approximately 9 year old bourbon, whereas George T. Stagg sits in a barrel for between 15-16 years.  Stagg, Jr. is maybe the most polarizing whiskey I’ve experienced since I really started paying attention to this stuff–some people love it, some people think it is incredibly overrated, and some even hate it.  Perhaps this is because many see it as an attempt for Buffalo Trace to sell an inferior product, a product meant to be sold 7 years later but released early because they needed to make a quick buck.  I personally don’t believe this is the case.  If Buffalo Trace was hard up for cash, they could just double the price of their Antique Collection and everyone would still buy it.  I feel like the cause of the all-over-the-board reviews of this bourbon is based on the variance in the different batches…so far there have been three batches released, each one much different from the others.  The problem is, the batch number is not indicated on the label, you can only tell the batch by the bottling proof.  So far the three batches we have are:

Batch 1: 134.4 proof

Batch 2: 128.7 proof

Batch 3: 132.1 proof

Here we have Batch 3.  I’ve actually had the opportunity to taste the other two batches, and while I enjoyed my drink each time, I was never compelled to go out and buy a bottle right away.  Batch 1 was too much, alcohol forward, medicinal; Batch 2 was lacking something, flavors a little restrained and confused.  I bought this bottle hoping the third batch would be the best of the bunch, and I’m happy to report that taking a chance on this one paid off–it is absolutely my favorite of the three available batches.  Kind of a Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear thing.  I got the Baby Bear!

On the nose: dark fruit explosion–black cherries, grapes, over-ripe plums, baked red delicious apples; cherry gushers (the gummy candy); maple, vanilla and oak are present but lost a little in the wall of fruit.  For some this is maybe too much cherry, too much fruit in general, but damn it smells great to me.  I’m getting all this from the straight pour, aired for 15 minutes, no water added.  At this proof it’s normally very hard to get all those delicious smells, but this is a Buffalo Trace product we are talking about, so I’m not shocked to find such a wonderful nose.

I don’t understand how a 130+ proof whiskey can go down this smooth.  Half the sip seems to evaporate on your tongue, but the other half goes down beautifully.  No intense alcohol burn (ok a TINY bit, man up!).  Lots of flavor there but hard to place until I add a little water finally.  I’ve probably got this at 115 proof now.  Total eyeball guess.  Now I pick out caramel corn and cherry up front, the oak is way more present on the palate.  Surprise of cinnamon, slight spice but the rye is definitely overpowered by the sweet and fruit of this bourbon, and at this high proof I’m fine with that.  Medium Plus body, finishes shorter than expected, sweet and good.

Haters gonna hate, but I am a fan of this bourbon.  Best part is you can actually walk into a store and PURCHASE this off the shelf, for a normal price.  Can’t say the same for George T. Stagg, though I’m sure it’s a better bourbon overall (I’ll let you know soon–I got one!).

Rating: 8.8 / 10

Bought at Decatur Package Store in Decatur, GA for $55.99



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