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George T Stagg bottled 2011

Average score from 6 reviews and 6 ratings 93

George T Stagg bottled 2011

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George T Stagg bottled 2011

According to Buffalo trace in there official press release, “The 2011 George T. Stagg was found in Warehouses H, I, and K. This uncut, unfiltered bourbon was distilled back in the winter of 1993 and weighs in at 142.6 proof—some bold stuff! This whiskey tastes of espresso, chocolate and vanilla.”

So that makes the 2011 release around 18 years old. George T. Stagg is typically listed as being "at least 15 years of age” so 2011 release has a bit more age on it. Another interesting tidbit: the 2012 Stagg was also found in Warehouses H, I, and K (but also L). It was all distilled in 1995 (so about 17yo for that one). I have not tried it yet, but I expect it to be very similar to this guy.

This bottle was purchased in October of 2011 by sheer dumb luck. I was wandering around a liquor store in Green Hills near Nashville. I had no intention of buying anything. A store attendant asked if I needed help finding anything to which I jokingly asked if could help me find any George T. Stagg. He got an odd look and said, “Let me check the back.” He came out with a grin and one bottle. Of course, I asked if there was any more. He said it was the last – I have to think it was on hold for someone else . . . but I bought it anyway. I opened it with friends at my engagement party on November 4th 2011. There were four whisky tasting friends there that night, and we killed half the bottle. I have been slowly rationing this out ever since. I only taste it with pen and paper around. This is a compilation of 4 different reviews. I will say that over the years this has remained very consistent, as has my appreciation of this bottle.

Nose: This nose is a dissertation on depth and sweetness. Easily the deepest nose of the night. There is a hint of something sour, but it is far in the background adding to the complexity: brown sugar, leather, tobacco, coffee, toffee, maple syrup, caramel apples on a stick, hard apple cider, fruit cake, figs, vanilla, oak, hickory smoke, cloves, cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg just to name a few. But all of this complexity surrounds a huge roaring volcano. Punch me in the face! This is huge!! You don’t want to put your nose too far in there . . . unless you like brutality (which I do)! This nose takes you on a tour of the south in the autumn. Simply fantastic! Could I nose this all night and into next week? Yes! Now I’m getting leather armchair, toasted hickory, cedar, and subtle smoke. This nose seems endlessly complex, deep, and rich.

Taste: Sweetness – thick maple syrup, brown sugar, oak, caramelized onions, vanilla bean . . . and then the salt comes. This is not a whiskey to leave on your tongue . . . but oh what joy while it is there – all thick and lovely like. But, it moves to mouth destroying within seconds. With water: still sweet but not the wonderful intensity. Still, brown sugar, candied apples . . . but now sour tarts . . . and Jolly Ranchers?

Finish: Gigantic assault of fire, brimstone, coal, hickory wood ash, and then sickeningly sweet caramel and caramelized sugars. The salt is huge! You need a few breaths to regain your composure. This is astoundingly longer and drier then Elijah’s valley of dry bones. This is the taste of a gigantic sand storm. One huge wave and then another wave . . . anise . . . oak . . . charred wood, BBQ, a night out camping . . . this is simply massive in a way the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and Stagg JR just can’t come close to matching (forget about Old Granddad 114). Utterly mouth enveloping . . . leaves your mouth decimated. You have a nice char, brown sugar, hickory charcoal and maple syrup left in your mouth hours later.

Balance, Complexity: In my mind this really is the standard of complexity in bourbon – and power for that matter! I have nothing to complain about here. Now, you have to really like big flavors and high proof alcohol. I know . . . it isn’t for everyone. Luckily it works for me. Typically I don’t cut whiskey with water . . . and this is no different. I really think you miss out on some of the raw beauty of GTS if you don’t at least take one sip neat. Then once your face is composed again you can add some water. Balanced? I think so. I can’t think of another whiskey at over 70% ABV that is so dang drinkable!

Aesthetic experience: I love almost everything about this bottle: hand written ABV and Proof, the solid clear glass, the antlers, the amazing color, and the name. I love the age (18 ½ years) I love the uncut and unfiltered nature of this beast. The only thing I have against it is that the bottle is so $#%& tall. I guess for some people it is all about what is in the bottle. For me it is a bit of both. Still, I admit there is something elegant about this bottle . . .

Conclusion: This is my benchmark bourbon. Period. I judge all bourbons against George T. Stagg – for better or for worse. I have loved this bottle since my first Stagg in 2005 (it was the Fall Release at 141.2% . . . it still haunts my memory). I have since had bottles of 2007, 2010, and 2011. I’m sad I moved to Virginia and missed out on the 2012 release. I still have a chance for the 2013 . . . we will see how it pans out. Is the 2011 my favorite Stagg year you ask? Nope. It might be my least favorite of the years I just mentioned. That said, if you can get your hands on a bottle – of any year! – do not hesitate.

@WhiskyBee thank you for the very kind words. I wish you the best of luck in your Stagg hunt this year.

@rigmorole I have yet to try a Stagg I didn't like (including the Jr.), but that is me. I hear that @Victor likes the 2012 even better then the 2011 . . . and that is a man who knows his bourbons.

I just tasted this again tonight against Stagg Jr. and the 2013 Stagg release. I am surprised that I scored it the exact same score of 30 in my book (which translates to 96 in the typical 100 point scale range).


Yes, I know it's July 12 - eight days after Independence Day. But hey, whaddya want? It's been a busy time: work is nuts, my girlfriend and her four-year-old are staying with me right now, and generally life is busy. And so, finally, here I am, with another Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottle.

Well, not a bottle, but a sample, courtesy of @Victor. George T. Stagg was the one time proprietor of what is now known as Buffalo Trace. It seems Stagg was a ruthless businessman - he forced out his partner E. H. Taylor Jr when Taylor's debts to Stagg piled up, and too legal action against him to prevent his use of his own name on the Old Taylor brand! Niiiiiiiiice.

Stagg is the flagship of the Antique Collection. It is uncut and unfiltered, and each annual release is at least 15 years old (and tastes like it). This 2011 release is actually 17 years old, having been distilled in the winter of 1993 and bottled in the fall of 2011. Pretty old for a modern bourbon!

The colour is a deep burgundy with lighter reddish highlights. On the nose, I first get hit with dark chocolate, musty mahogany bookshelves, and buckets of oak. There is massive complexity here with vanilla, cherries and very pungent herbs. Cinnamon and cloves. More floral and with aromatic herbs, if you add a drop of water.

In the mouth, immediately mouth-drying and mouth-puckering with the huge tannins! Big heat, but with molasses, caramel, smoky paprika and chorizo. And more chocolate! Pow! Water actually increases the heat and pumps up the chorizo sausage. Fascinating.

The finish is beautiful, with lots of oak, gentle spices and, surprisingly, port. You'll also be surprised that the finish is not as huge as the palate - it elegantly peters out, leaving you wanting more, much more. This is a show-off bourbon, absolutely fantastic and one of the greatest American whiskies you'll ever taste (and a big 96.5 score from Jim Murray). Hard to say what the difference is between this edition and other editions? Hmmmm...how does one find out? I wonder...stay tuned...


Distilled in the winter of 1993 and bottled in 2011, this Stagg is 18 years old. It has, just like his siblings, a very dark color and is almost syrupy in the glass.

The nose is very sweet and aromatic, yet quite different from the earlier bottlings. I also get vanilla and cherries, but a lot more hints of corn. Pipe tobacco. Pancakes with maple syrup, sprinkled with coconut powder. Whole wheat bread. Mint and something that reminds me of graphite. Toasted oak. Grand!

The high ABV gives a kick upon entry, but immediately your mouth is overcome by flavours like liquorice, coconut, raisins, some cassis and loads of spices. Think cloves, pepper, ginger, vanilla, aniseed and mint. The oak creates a drying effect, more so than on the other bottlings.

The finish is long, but very drying on liquorice and cinnamon.

After the head-to-head of these three Staggs, I do need a break. These are big boys and very much worth your while. Intense, spectacular taste sensations that really test your palate. Thanks, Kris!


Terrible puns aside, this is stellar stuff.

nose: caramel with light pepper, a more toffee like quality than the honeyed W.L.Weller. Buttered molasses mixed with bitter burnt sugar from a spicy creme brulee

palate: medium body, surprisingly dry, a little spicy, and loads of sandalwood sawdust.

finish: a little spicy, pepper, vietnamese cinnamon infused tar molasses

with water- nose: spiced fruit cake, with subdued fruit and more cinnamon, and minty eucalyptus

palate: spicier than it was neat, with more stewed fruit (apples and pears), and some wood, but not as much as neat.

finish: more or less the same, but more fruit and dessert-like (along the lines of a slightly stale, once moist mince meat pie) overall - this is a tale of two drinks. neat, the nose was fairly suppressed and muted, and the palate was shockingly dry. with water, it because expressive and more complex, and very enjoyable.

It's a tale of two bourbons, in many ways. Neat, it's closed, sour, and dry. Good, but with flaws. With water, it opens up incredibly, and brings some fruit to the show.


My brother in law's birthday is coming up and I decided a few weeks ago that I had to get him an awesome birthday present.

I had called him up and gave him the option of whisky or beer as he does enjoy both.

He opted for whisky.


I knew that he'd wanted to try Stagg for months now and my sister store (I run a wholesale boutique beer store) had just decided to import whisky specifically high end bourbons (I'm forbidden to by my license otherwise I so would!) and they'd just gotten a bottle of Stagg.


But a problem first.

I had to pay down my whisky debt at the store before I could snag the bottle. So I scrapped and pinched pennies and finally got my account paid off.

I then called them up and asked them if they still had The Stagg.

They did.


I asked them to put it aside until I could snag the bottle the following day.


End of work the next day I rush over to our sister store and burst through the door.

"Stagg! I need it!!"

At which point the guy behind the counter looks at me in surprise and possibly a wee bit of fear.

"Sorry sir, but we're out of ..."

"I'm Squidgyash. I'm here for the Stagg"

Pant pant pant.

"Ah no worries! Here you go" he says in some relief that I won't eat him if he doesn't have my bottle for me.

Fast forward a few weeks and I've already given my brother in law his bottle of Stagg for his birthday and all of a sudden it's my birthday!

I send out a general invite last minute as I decide to crack open some good beers to see if anyone would care to join my wife and me for a drink.

My brother and sister in law say they'll be there!

When they arrive at the house my brother in law looks at me and grins then holds out the Stagg.

"I figured we'd crack it open tonight seeing how it's our birthdays!"


I was going to crack open a new bottle or two but nothing along the lines of the Stagg.

Hellz Yah!

We sit down for a nice yummy beer and wait for pizza, once dinner is done we're cracking the Stagg!

We eat the pizza while watching Die Hard (YAH BABY!!) and then we crack The Stagg!

My brother in law pours me a hefty dram and then one for himself.

We start nosing the drams and what wafts up is lovely lovely bourbon, but not quite the same as the first Stagg I tried.

No big surprise as I'm pretty sure that the release I got from the bar was a different one from the current bottle.

So as I nose the glencairn some lovely aromas of oak, cherries, vanilla, maple, toffee, mint and hiding in the background, just the faintest whiff of bananas.


Damn Stagg makes a bloody complex whisky, but now for one of the funnest parts.

The tasting!

Now as I take a taste the first thing that you'll notice is a wee bit of alcohol burn.

Not surprising considering that this is over 70% ABV which makes it extremely powerful!

But it doesn't taste like you're drinking 140+ proof whisky. The alcohol never dominates the flavor profile.

Instead what you taste is cocoa, mint, orange rind, cinnamon, clove, and oak.

Now I'm sure that there is probably more then that flavor wise but I didn't add any water so the Stagg was drunk neat. I'd be curious what a wee bit of water would throw into the picture.

Cocoa is the strongest aspect in the flavor profile with the mint following close behind. Not bad. First time I've ever had a chocolate bourbon I think I can safely say. The rest of the flavors appear slowly as you taste the Stagg.

The finish is standard Stagg length which means LONG, INSANELY YUMMILY LONG! Lots and lots of that cocoa with some spices lingering along with the oak.

This whisky feels like you could practically chew on it. Awesome awesome mouth feel, rich and full!

My brother in law tried his and looked over and just went "That's a really good whisky" and as I look on his Facebook page right now he's posting

"I think George T Stagg is the best whiskey I've tasted. Rich, complex, and strong - thanks Squidgy+Ash for the gift (where's the review already Squidgyash damn)"

This is an AWESOME whisky by anyone's measure, not quite as good as the first one I tried, but still bloody good.

However all of this goodness comes at a price. This is NOT a cheap whisky. I'm not going to say how much it does cost just in case my brother in law reads this review, but I will say that the cheapest one I've seen was a good deal more expensive then $200 AUS. After that the price can easily shoot up to $400 AUS IF you can find the bottle over here.

Does that mean you shouldn't buy a bottle of this?


Like I said one of the best bourbons out there, bar none and fully deserves it's reputation as one of the best whiskies in the world.

Rich, complex, balanced.

Can I have some more please brother?

Haha the story with you running to the store and yelling at the seller - great! Maybe they thought you want to rob them ;)

Nice review, everything I hear from the Stagg is just superb. Seems like the holy grail for bourbon. I am getting a sample very soon. Looking forward in joyful anticipation.


George T. Stagg bourbon is approximately 15 years old, and is bottled uncut and unfiltered. It is one of the five whiskeys from the Sazarac Antique Collection, which are released once each year in the fall.

Nose: Exquisite, and flawless. Strong rich wood tones emphasizing maple and also harmonizing discreet rye spices. There is some alcohol noticeable in the nose, which I personally like.

Palate: Neat, there are thick chewy wood flavours which taste a little bound up compared to the Stagg 2010 release. The maply wood flavours are intense, and the rye spices remain strong. A little water brings this out very nicely, and I find the addition of water to be much more important for the 2011 release Stagg than for the 2010 release expression. These "bound up" palate flavours seem to me to be of the sort that often open up and blossom extremely nicely after the bottle is open a period of weeks to months. I have not yet had the opportunity to observe that for this release, however. As always, George T. Stagg manifests a veritable cornucopia of flavours, and does so with great intensity.

Finish: the usual long intense Stagg flavours remain for a very long and flavourful finish, as in previous releases. Delicious. As with the palate, I like the finish better after there has been a little water added.

Balance: Another delicious George T. Stagg, maybe not quite equal to the 2010 release, but very highly desirable, and beyond the pale of the experience of most whiskies. With water added, the balance is once again excellent. I am very enthusiastically looking forward to how this whiskey ages in the open bottle.

I cant find this anywhere. I had a bottle of 09 I think it was and it was in my top 5 best bourbons ever. Its on my wish list...and I fear it will be for some time now. I know the 09 I had was like a nice rare steak fresh off the grill. I am not "whiskey educated" enough yet to quantify that, but it was like a great Cabernet...when you know its quality before you even sip it. But once you sip it....oh once you sip it! its amazing that this juice is 140 proof...it just doesnt have any harshness to it at all. Dont get me wrong, there was that old, familiar burn that I love so much, but it was warmth, not harshness for me. The palate to me, was how sandalwood smells. That distinctive woody smell thats not overpowering is what this tasted like sitting on my tongue. I think this is maybe my novice nose and palate detecting the rye, combined with the wood?? Victor, not sure about this barrel, but the 09 version I had, had legs like a woman's volleyball player. it sat in the glass, and on my tongue for what seemed like minutes. I never even added water, but I am kicking myself now for not trying it..i was so afraid of adding water to such an amazing pour. I will be looking everywhere for this bottle...my last one was amazing, and from the looks of it, it continues on.

I just finished the last drop of the 2011 release. After reading your review, I feel that it is pointless to add anything more - you hit it right on the head. This is a bottle that my younger son gave me for Father's Day in 2012 and I've been nursing it ever since. The only thing that I might add is that my son wrote on the back label, "Distilled in 1993" - where he got this information I have no idea, but I did notice that one of the responders to your review mentioned that the 2011 release was an 18 year old bourbon (the math works out at least) and explains that firm oaky backbone.

Just something in passing. I've been saving that last drop of Stagg to celebrate the birth of my granddaughter, Nika. My son and his wife live in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan and we have often remarked what a nice name Nikka would be for a girl (if indeed they had a daughter). Ever time I go back to Sapporo we make a trip out to Yoichi to the distillery (I think my favorite distillery) taking the train along the beautiful coast along the Sea of Japan. It is quite the trip. When Urara and may son announced that they were going to have a daughter, we put plans into motion. Apparently "Nikka" and "Nika" are pronounced similarly in Japanese, but the Kanji for the two names are very different. My son and his wife knew that her mother would not want to have her daughter named after a distillery, but all was not lost. By simply dropping one of the "k's" (in the Latin Alphabet) you get Nika which is Japanese for "smile" (at least I am told). So here's to Nika Chan!

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