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George T Stagg bottled 2011

A dissertation on depth and power

0 596

@NockReview by @Nock

23rd Oct 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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.

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WhiskyBee commented

An incredible review, worthy of the world's most celebrated bourbon. It's #1 on my wishlist, and I hope this will be the year I can finally get a hold of one.

8 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

I tasted this one a few months ago. Not sure if it was the 2012 or 2011 but it was really fantastic.

8 years ago 0

Nock commented

@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.

8 years ago 0

Nock commented

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).

8 years ago 0

BourbonHunter commented

I enjoyed your review. Good luck in your quest for a bottle in 2013. I had the great good fortune to come up with three bottles this year, but have not opened one yet.

8 years ago 0

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