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I had my first taste of Stagg Jr . on December 9, 2016. That was apparently batch 7. I was very impressed with it and reviewed it the next day:
This year I’m grateful to @Astroke who made me aware that Batch 8 was available. As it seemed to sell out almost overnight last year, I asked my faithful Connosr friend in Sudbury to see if he could secure me some as I was afraid I wouldn’t get any in Toronto. As it turns out we were both successful so it’s a good thing I really like this batch. Surprisingly it remains available in small quantities almost 2 weeks later.
This bottle was opened on October 15, and gassed after each infrequent use, and contained about 710 cc. It is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle for a nice long time after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting. I’m also going to compare it to batch 7. I did not read my previous review today until after writing this. The marks are for this batch only.
In the Glencairn, rich vanilla and caramel, and brown Demerara sugar. With my nose deep in the glass (carefully at 64.75%), I get cherry. It’s not too complex but clean and rich. As the glass is drying after pouring into the Kentucky bourbon glass, I get sour cherries, sweet fruit syrup, quite an astounding explosion. In the bourbon glass the nose is more open, the cherry more pronounced, the vanilla and brown sugar more in the background. I get a hint of dust in the empty glass, later sour cherry. Fantastic bourbon nose. With water, the pitch of the fruit is a little higher and I get more caramel than brown sugar. The empty glass smell in the Glencairn is muted.
The batch 7 has a fruitier nose in the glencairn and I get less vanilla and brown sugar. It may be nose fatigue but in the bourbon glass the nose is more muted.
This is a very hot whisky (sometimes I can take it neat, sometimes I can’t). Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar. Some cherry, dry cola in the development. With time in the glass the brown sugar becomes more prominent. A little creamier in the bourbon glass. Very rich brown sugar and cherry development. With water, the brown sugar is sweeter. It remains extremely rich.
Batch 7 has some cinnamon and nutmeg, lots of brown sugar, and less cherry.
Dry, astringent, as if I were chewing on charred oak. Lasts pretty long.
This is a powerful bourbon. There is no subtlety to it. The palate and the nose complement each other.
Of course, when sitting with 2 similar glasses in front of me, having completed the tasting notes, there’s only one thing left to do… mix ‘em together. Unfortunately I don’t have the chance to smell and taste them together neat, but batch 7.5, with the water, appears to be more than the sum of its parts. The spices are more diverse, and the palate is a little more complex. I get lots more cinnamon especially.
This is bourbon on steroids. I really like it. I think I prefer its elder sibling for complexity, and some of the Booker’s releases for flavour, but with time in the glass and the mood just right, this can be a show-stopper. I think I’m prepared to give this batch a slight edge over the 7, and I’m very happy to have a little extra for the future. Mind you, with bourbon like this, a little bit goes a long way.
Interestingly, I find most bourbons have something in the nose and flavour that is unique to bourbons, but which I have never been able to pin down and name. I call it a “bourbon” signature. I think that maybe the sour, oaky cherry may be a part of that signature. There’s more, but maybe I’m starting to unravel the secrets of bourbon…