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Buffalo Trace Stagg Jr. Bourbon Batch 8

Bourbon on Steroids

2 1789

@NozinanReview by @Nozinan

27th Oct 2017

2

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
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  • Overall
    89

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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:

connosr.com/stagg-jr-bourbon-whisky-review…

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.


Nose: 22.5/25

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.

Taste: 22.5/25

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.

Finish: 21.5/25

Dry, astringent, as if I were chewing on charred oak. Lasts pretty long.

Balance: 22/25

This is a powerful bourbon. There is no subtlety to it. The palate and the nose complement each other.

Score: 88.5/100


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…

Related Buffalo Trace reviews

17 comments

Taco commented

Tempted to try this, but reviews of early batches were poor. And I love Booker's and ECBP. How would this compare to those?

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Taco, the first batch of Stagg Jr was way too tannic and bitter. Later batches are much better. Of those you mentioned Stagg Jr would be closer to ECBP in effect than to Booker's. I still prefer ECBP to a good batch of Stagg Jr, but a good batch of Stagg Jr is well worth having. Having ranted and raved against Batch # 1 of Stagg Jr I am now convinced that most batches of Stagg Jr are perfectly OK and desirable to drink and to own.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Taco, one more thing...Stagg Jr still tastes to me more like "Buffalo Trace Sr." than it does like George T. Stagg (Jr). The deep luxuriant wood notes of George T. Stagg are just not there. But the batches now are like a good batch of "Buffalo Trace Sr." rather than a bad one. My guess is that if you get a taste first that you will like it OK, but not feel compelled to own any. Get a taste and tell me what you think. Stagg Jr does have the virtue of being righteously powerful. It is no shrinking violet.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

So if I were to splurge . . . this or ECBP? fwiw I like the Eagle Rare I'm sipping and also a fan of the EC12.

Good review, thanks :)

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I scored one batch of ECBP 2 points higher for what it's worth. I think if I had to choose between the 2, 7-8 times out of 10 I would go with ECBP.

Of course, in Canada, there isn't usually that choice.

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC, for a purchase if I owned neither, unquestionably I would choose ECBP, 10 times out of 10. If I owned both, I would be in a mood to prefer to drink ECBP over Stagg Jr. 8 or 9 times out of 10.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

Taco commented

I must say the bottle of ECBP I currently am drinking (124.8 proof) is a bit tamer than all my previous ones. Still a great nose, but a bit tamer on the palate. And I need to add much less water, as too much makes it washed out. Makes sense as my all time favorite was batch 6 (140.2 proof). Now THAT was not only ass-kicking, but had wonderful nose, palate and finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the five bottles I had of it. At $46 a bottle, any batch is a great buy. For more daily drinkers, I have WT 101 ($20) and Evan Williams BIB ($12). For special occasions, Booker's ($65) is a wonderful choice which I find (for a bourbon) comparable to a really good sherried scotch, like Glendronach 18 Allardice.

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Taco, I too am a huge fan of Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, but no one outside of the USA is buying it for $ 12.

about one year ago 0

@newreverie
newreverie commented

My current batch of stagg Jr open is 66.25 which is batch 6. I haven't had enough yet for a propper review, but it is next on my list.

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

The chat above raises a question in my mind.

@Victor, or the other knowledgeable folks here: What defines a whisky as a "Stagg"?

How is a "Stagg" different from the other Buffalo Trace whiskies, and what's the commonality between a regular George T. Stagg and a Junior?

about one year ago 0

@newreverie
newreverie commented

Buffalo Trace is just hitching on to the Stagg name as a marketing strategy. Similarities and Differences between George T Stagg and Stagg Jr are as follows, Same: At or near barrel proof non chill filtered Buffalo Trace Mashbill #1 Somewhat limited release Different: Stagg Jr is younger Stagg Jr barrel selection is less restrictive

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, George T. Stagg was a business partner and salesman in the whiskey business. What is now called the Buffalo Trace Distillery has had several names previously in its history. For a period of time it was named the George T. Stagg distillery.

Buffalo Trace Distillery makes standard, rye-containing bourbons with two different mashbills. Buffalo Trace Mash Bill # 1 has a relatively low rye content, about 8-10% rye. Mash Bill # 1 is used for standard Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Stagg Jr., George T. Stagg, and some of their other bourbons, of which there are quite a few. Standard Buffalo Trace bourbon, 45% ABV domestically, 40% ABV exported to some countries, has no age statement, but is reported to typically be 6 or 7 years old. Stagg Jr. is slightly older barrel strength Buffalo Trace Mash Bill # 1 bourbon, typically 8 or 9 years old. George T. Stagg is released once per year as part of the Antique Collection. It is uncut, i.e. barrel strength, unfiltered, and carries no age statement, but has always been at least 15 years old.

Buffalo Trace Mash Bill # 2 contains about 15% rye, which is a typical middle of the road rye content for standard bourbon. The Ancient Age line of bourbons, the Eagle Rare bourbons, Elmer T. Lee, and the Blanton's line of bourbons are examples of bourbons using Buffalo Trace Mash Bill # 2. Mash Bill # 2 is the higher rye content of the two Buffalo Trace rye mashbills, but it is still a medium range of rye content, and not a relatively high range of rye content, as are found in Four Roses bourbons (20%, 35%, and 28% for the old sourced Bulleit bourbon), the Old Grand-Dad line (28-30%), and some others.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Wow, @newreverie and @Victor, I don't think you could have better orchestrated those answers if you tried! Good summary, then an explosion of detail! Thanks.

So it sounds like those "Junior" barrels would become regular old Staggs if they were allowed to reach 15+ years? So the connection between the two releases is pretty legit?

And do you think similarities between the two in taste would be pronounced to most drinkers if they weren't branded with the same guy's name?


I gotta hand it to you bourbon fans for keeping all this stuff straight among the various brands. Is any of that explained on the labels, or does all that understanding come only from doing your homework?

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, for me there is NO comparison in taste between George T. Stagg and Stagg Jr. George T. Stagg is a magnificent demonstration of incredible prolonged new oak influence. Stagg Jr is merely older barrel strength standard Buffalo Trace bourbon. I consider the Stagg Jr barrels to be George T. Stagg rejects, otherwise they would keep aging them for Stagg. Stagg Jr. tends to be a lot more shrill and tannic than is George T. Stagg. The wood influence is just not in the same league.

Certainly some homework is required to put together the information to get a clear picture of these whiskies.

@MadSingleMalt, I suggest that you get somebody to give you a taste of Buffalo Trace, Stagg Jr., and George T. Stagg side by side.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@newreverie
newreverie commented

@MadSingleMalt Stagg Jr is in the same league as Booker's and Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Meaning they are made of good barrels with a decent amount of age, but are by no means exceptional. That is not meant to be discouraging. I've tasted plenty of Booker's and Elijah Craig that i'd be happy to sip on right next to a George T Stagg, but it would be a rare event even in a blind taste that i'd choose one of those over GTS. With bourbon, barrel selection is the most critical component between something that is good and something that is outstanding. This year's GTS is made up of 309 hand selected barrels. I assure you that Buffalo Trace has many many thousands of barrels of Mash Bill #1 aging in their rick houses. You can find out all the nerdy details about this year's release of GTS here: buffalotracedistillery.com/sites/default/…

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Victor & @newreverie , great input again! Thanks. I find all this stuff really interesting even though bourbon's not my big thing.

Tasting that lineup of regular Buffalo Trace, Stagg Jr., and George T. Stagg would be the way to go, especially being armed with some idea of what defines each label. I bet some fellas in my club have the first two. The third sounds like a longshot. :)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

...but this would be a good place to note that this year, for the first time, I entered my local retailer's lottery for the regular Stagg. In past years, I passed because I didn't want to "steal" any of these from the folks who are really into it, instead of just politely curious like I am. And frankly, I never would have paid the asking price for own sake even if I found them just sitting there on the shelf. I changed my tune this year mostly because I know my club would be "stoked for the Stagg," so to speak. I would definitely open it with my whisky buddies, rather than just for myself.

The retail price for the lottery winner is $105, for anyone keeping tabs on those.

about one year ago 0

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