Monday, September 9, 2013
New Releases: Stagg Jr.
It's fall, which is the beginning of whiskey season. New releases are starting to pop up and will continue for the next two months, culminating in the holiday buying spree. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll review some of those new releases, starting with Stagg Jr.
Few bourbons have entered the market with as much consumer anticipation as Stagg Jr., a younger version of Buffalo Trace's barrel proof super star. The bourbon has no age statement but the back label states it was aged for "nearly a decade."
By naming this Stagg, Jr., BT makes a bold statement. Given that it's about the same age as the standard Buffalo Trace whiskey, they could have called it Buffalo Trace Barrel Proof or Eagle Rare Barrel Proof, since both of those bourbons are made from the same mashbill. But neither of those names would have likely caused the excitement (or merited the price) that comes with the Stagg name which is second only to Pappy in bourbon lore. But by calling it Stagg, the distillery also gives itself a higher bar, inviting comparisons with Stagg the elder, one of the most lauded bourbons in recent memory. Let's see if it lives up to its name.
Stagg Jr., 67.2% abv ($50)
The nose is indeed reminiscent of George T. Stagg, very rich and woody with sweet toffee notes, spice and oak. The palate leads off with sweet candy, then rye spice, oak and a touch of mint with a nice, chewy mouthfeel. The finish is lightly minty. A few drops of water brings out some vanilla and herbal notes.
Reviews of this bourbon so far have not been kind, but I think it wears the Stagg name well. It's exactly what I'd expect in a younger Stagg. It's missing the richness and complexity, those dark oak notes that frame Stagg Sr., but it's well balanced and intense. It's surprisingly drinkable neat though it also takes water well. All in all, a very good bourbon, and one I would recommend.
Like the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and pretty much every other new release this year, Stagg Jr. has been tough to find, so if you want it, it might require some hunting.