By Kurt Maitland
This year’s version of George T. Stagg comes from 128 barrels filled in early 2000. While the batch in terms of barrels was essentially the same size as in prior years, the yield out of those barrels was much smaller. Some barrels had only a gallon or two in them after 15 years in the warehouse, and even Buffalo Trace admits that it will be harder to find this release than ever. After being dumped and married, the whiskey in those barrels came out at 69.1% abv, or 138.2 proof.
Color: Reddish Copper
Nose: Summer stone fruits (I get ripe peaches) and vanilla cream.
Taste: Wonderfully fruity with more apricot than the peach I had nosed. A little water turns the fruit of this release into a much sweeter hard candy with hints of honey, vanilla and a little tobacco. The texture is semi-dry from the astringency, with a peppery middle and second heat spike at the end. With this Stagg think sweetness and heat, but what else would you expect from a Stagg?
While this iteration of George T. Stagg is a high octane monster of a bourbon, it still drinkable at its barrel proof and only becomes more so with a little water.
Finish: This release is a spicy, peppery number. The heat rises up from the first taste, spikes in the middle and then has a long pepper finish.
I love the BTAC Releases, with my favorite usually turning out to be the Weller as I have a bit of a bias re: wheated bourbons. Having had both the Stagg and this year’s Weller, I may have to give the Stagg the championship belt this year. It has a higher proof but it is a smoother ride and is surprisingly easier to get under control with the addition of water.
The recommended price tag for a bottle of 2015 George T. Stagg is $80, but only those lucky enough to win a lottery or enjoy nice connections will pay that. The average market price for a bottle of Stagg is currently running $460.