In whiskey, names carry a lot of value and can generate excitement. George T. Stagg is a very well-known, respected label with a rich history and following. It is part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC). In 2013, Buffalo Trace went on to create another barrel-proof, unfiltered Bourbon, it would be one that would be a little easier to come across, and they chose to cash in on the GTS name, calling it Stagg, Jr.
Obviously, the tip of the hat doesn’t come without risk. If Stagg, Jr. didn’t go over well, it could put Buffalo Trace in poor light with fans. Thankfully, four years later, the label is still running strong and is in demand. The question becomes, just because it is popular, is this one you should be pursuing?
Batch 9 was released in 2017 at 131.9° and its MSRP is $49.99. Most of the batches I’ve come across the last couple of years have been closer to $54.99. It is created from a small batch of Bourbons using Buffalo Trace’s #1 mash. Each barrel in the batch ranges from eight to nine years old, but it carries no age statement.
The color is an almost murky brown. Swirling it in my glass gives an unusual, thick appearance. It leaves a thin rim and thick legs that race back to the pool. However, some of the rim remains glued to the glass.
Aromas of caramel and vanilla are up front. As I lift the glass closer to my nostrils, I pick up a slight mint, followed by oak and cherry. Inhaling through my mouth also brings an almost circus peanut sweetness.
The appearance of thickness is deceptive, because the mouth feel is shockingly light and airy. Keep in mind this is a 131.9° Bourbon. It also doesn’t provide burn in the mouth, but is very, very warm in the throat.
Flavors of black cherry are strong and way up front, followed by vanilla. Think cherry vanilla ice cream, and that’s what’s happening here. Behind that ice cream is a bit of the caramel. “Heavenly” is a term that comes to mind.
At this proof, the finish expectedly makes the soft and hard palates tingle, while building oak and more of the caramel in the throat. It is shorter than you’d guess, and it goes down a little too easy.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Stagg, Jr. seems to get better with each subsequent release, and Batch 9 is easily my favorite so far. To answer my earlier question, “Yes. You should absolutely track down a bottle. It is well worth the investment of time and money.”
On a final note, I drank this neat, just as I do with every whiskey. There are times I will add water, especially to barrel-proof whiskeys, as a curiosity factor. However, this incarnation of Stagg, Jr. is such an easy drinker, I’m going to skip that for now. Perhaps that will happen in a later review. This one snags my Bottle rating. Cheers!