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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof

This particular bottle caught my eye behind the counter at a college-town liquor store. I recognized the name but wasn’t sure exactly what was inside. Here’s the low-down:

Dedicated to a Bourbon Legend

Released for the first time in 2013, Stagg Jr. honors bourbon legend George T. Stagg. As the label shares, George was born in Kentucky on December 10, 1835. He went on to build a dominant distillery on the banks of the Kentucky River. As mergers and name changes marked the passage of time, the distillery later came to be called Buffalo Trace. 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. is a younger version of the George T. Stagg bourbon release annually by Buffalo Trace. While the GTS bourbon ranges from 15-17 years, Stagg Jr. typically runs in the 8-9-year range.

The Tasting

This bottle was purchased for $48 and is a whopping 127.9 proof. The mash bill is undisclosed, and while there’s no age statement, Buffalo Trace indicates it is comprised of 8-9 year batches. This particular release has been winning a number of awards of late, including a Double Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a 2019 Silver Medal at the World Whiskies awards.

Eye: Dark copper with crimson tones.

Nose: Yep, there’s alcohol there. I’ll aerate this more in the glass… and wait while I write the rest of this review.

There’s a lot of vanilla and caramel followed by oak and some sweet, baked fruits.

Palate: Still lots of alcohol here and it’s masking much of what I’d expect to taste. After a hefty splash of water, I can pick up more dry wood notes, a large dose of cinnamon, more dark fruits and even a dash of cocoa. That splash (or two) really helped here, though it wasn’t awful straight on.

Finish: Long and hot. A lot of spice and oak with some burn from the high proof. There is a lot going on in there.

Overall: This was a nice one to experience, though not one for a novice. A splash of water or an ice ball would go a long way on taming the heat on this one. Unlike some other recent barrel proof samplings, this one wasn’t tamed until we dropped the proof a bit. Overall – an excellent tribute to a true legend. Enjoy this one on the rocks!

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