George T. Stagg, from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection. I got my first bottle at the same time as my first bottle of Pappy at a lottery at a local liquor store. I scored a bottle of Pappy 20 and the lady who got the Stagg let me buy it because she said she would never drink such high proof whiskey. I remember trying it and thinking, wow, this is what bourbon is supposed to taste like.
In color it is a beautiful mahogany. It has spent somewhere around fifteen years in a barrel, and bottled unfiltered and uncut. It is from Buffalo Trace’s low rye mashbill and truly shows how great that juice can be when aged properly. On the nose is the perfect blend of rye spice, sweet corn, leather, pipe tobacco and oak. It’s reminiscent of a beautiful library or study with leather chairs and bookshelves with a whiff of Balkan Sobranie pipe tobacco in the air. The palate is just like the nose; this bourbon hides nothing, and leaves a finish that is the perfect blend of rye spice and oak that lingers. It’s Buffalo Trace bourbon taken to its logical conclusion. But as high a proof as it is, it is stupid smooth. This bourbon is bottled at 65 to 70 percent abv but the flavors are anything but the alcohol. You get some nice burn on the finish but it really doesn’t burn going down after chewing the bourbon in your mouth a little bit.
A friend of mine who has never had George T. Stagg but who has had Stagg Jr., the eight to ten year old version, asked me to describe the difference between the two. I said I drink Stagg Jr. because it reminds me of Stagg Sr. The former is like methodone and the latter is like pure heroin for the bourbon drinker’s taste buds. Yes, it is that good. And you know exactly where that extra money went when you drink it. There is a lot of hype on the bourbon world about certain expensive whiskies and I have called quite a few out on this blog and elsewhere. There is no hype in George T. Stagg.
It truly is one of the world’s greatest whiskies of all time. After all the bullshit I went through today, I am the luckiest man in the world. I came home to a beautiful wife that loves me. And I got to drink this in my study.
And this fall there will be 38,000 more bottles released than last year (which was only about 10,000). So, dear friends, it is a lot more likely you too can get a bottle this year! Definitely savor this bottle if you get one. I wouldn’t save it for celebrations though. Save it for a Monday that’s particularly rough. It’s pure indulgence in a glass.