Bottled at a scorching 129.5 proof, Stagg Jr. is a bold, uncut, unfiltered Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that has been aged for nearly a decade before hitting liquor store shelves with price tag $50 a bottle. Stagg Jr. is the offspring of George T. Stagg – a bourbon so rare you’ve probably never seen it (and never will) at your local liquor shop. If you ever do find it, be prepared to fork over $150 – $200 a bottle, and buy it on the spot! Or you can always jump on Ebay where it can go for as much as $700 to $1,000 a bottle. With the rarity of George T. Stagg these days it makes a lot of sense that Buffalo Trace decided to put out a small batch bourbon with the Stagg name to tide us over and to introduce the Stagg brand to the masses. That doesn’t mean Stagg Jr. isn’t also rare, but you will find it easier to acquire.
If you’re a bourbon junkie, you’re already well aware of George T. Stagg, but to those of you who are uninitiated here’s a little history lesson.
Working as a whiskey salesman in St. Louis, George T. Stagg had the good fortune of teaming up with bourbon icon E.H. Taylor, Jr. Together they built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century. A leading industry expert at the time declared the Distillery “one plus ultra of its class,” the best of the best. Stagg’s salesmanship and financial acumen helped build the Distillery into one of the world’s leading bourbon producers. In 1904, the Distillery was rechristened to bear Stagg’s name, a title that was maintained for nearly a century. Today, Buffalo Trace Distillery carries on his tradition of innovation and excellence.
Recently Buffalo Trace entrusted the Busted Wallet tasting panel with a sample of Stagg Jr. to sip, sniff and taste. When we told friends we were reviewing Stagg Jr. the questions started coming out of the woodwork. How does it taste? Is it worth $50? Can you mix it? Does it burn? Good questions my friends, here’s what we discovered…
Recent accolades include: 2017 Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2017 Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- Proof: 129.5 (64.75% ABV)
- Age: Blended 8 – 10 years
- Appearance: rich mahogany
- Nose: chocolate, cinnamon, fruit, pepper, oak,
- Flavors: spice, caramel, wood, vanilla,
- Price: $50 – $70
On the nose this bourbon is intense! The aromas are complex. At first it is easy to pick up on cinnamon tones as well as deep oak and wood. Spice is something that also jumps out at you. Being uncut and unfiltered this 129.5 proof bourbon delivers the burn!
Tasting Stagg Jr. is a wonderful experience. On the front of the palate you are greeted with a initially docile caramel and vanilla flavors which moments later transforms into an intense spice that quickly reminds you, wow… I guess this is almost 130 proof! On the finish we were surprised with hints of smooth fruitiness and chocolate that doesn’t burn, but rather subsides nicely and leaves you reaching for another sip. We recommend sipping Stagg Jr. neat, but if the high proof proves to be too much for your liking, cutting it with some distilled water is or ice is a good choice and makes the bourbon more welcoming.
This limited batch release is somewhat hard to find, but is worth the search. Talk to your local liquor store manager often and hopefully they can hold a bottle for you. The $50 price tag is on-point if you ask us.
– Mix It Up with – Stagg-Hatten –
Ingredients: 2 oz Stagg Jr., 1 oz Italian sweet vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters.
Method: Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.