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George T Stagg bottled 2012

Average score from 4 reviews and 5 ratings 96

George T Stagg bottled 2012

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@talexander
George T Stagg bottled 2012

...and thank you for staying tuned in. We've jumped a year ahead and now we are comparing the 2012 Stagg with the 2011. I am VERY fortunate to have the opportunity to taste these side by side. @Victor provided the 2011 sample; @thecyclingyogi provided the 2012! I'm a lucky, lucky man (raps knuckles on table, dodges ladder, kicks away black cat, kisses rosary). As with all Staggs, this is at least 15 years old, uncut, unfiltered.

The colour, of course, is a deep mahogany with those reddish overtones. On the nose, we have something a little softer than the 2011 - fruitier, with more cherries and dates, menthol and wood furniture polish. Vanilla, absolutely, but a touch less than the 2011. Elements of a deep, dark, very aged rum. Strangely, water seems to have little effect. It's definitely a powerhouse, but it does have an elegance to it.

On the palate, tons of spice, more so I think than the previous year's release. Big, big heat, and big, big spices, with apples and plums, huge tobacco and leather, and tons of oak. I'm getting more rye in this edition; am I imagining things? Water tames the heat but retains those mouth-pulling tannins, while adding more mint. Again - brilliant.

The finish is almost hoppy, like a wort - then comes raisins, more tobacco and late-arriving cloves. It's very interesting to see the subtle - very subtle - differences between these two editions. I wonder how consistent the mashbill is between years; I could swear there is a little more corn in 2011, and a little more rye in 2012. But what do I know? I need @Victor to weigh in on this one! Incidentally, John Hansell rated this is 96, the highest rating he's given any in the 2012 Antique Collection. Also winner of Best American Whiskey in the 2013 World Whiskies Awards, and deservedly so.

@talexander, it is good to see you reviewing releases of George T. Stagg. I do not think that Buffalo Trace changes the mashbill at all from year to year. George T. Stagg bourbon uses the standard Buffalo Trace mashbill, which is relatively low in rye content, around 8%, compared to most bourbons which use 15% and higher as a standard. If there is corn to be tasted past 15 year old wood and rye grain, it would be more likely in a bourbon such as this in which the rye content is only about 8%.

For me tasting corn in bourbon usually ranges from extremely subtle to completely impossible. Rye grain and new wood flavours are so much stronger than the flavours of corn. Standard Buffalo Trace mashbill #1 does let the corn flavour peek through a bit, though. So yes, if you look for the corn flavours in George T. Stagg, you can probably find some of them, though to my palate they are still pretty subtle in the company of such intense wood influence.

Where corn really shows itself in bourbon to me is in the thick oily body which it gives to the whiskey. That thick body is typical of bourbons and also of US straight rye whiskeys, which usually have about 30-40% corn content in their mashbills.

So why might one taste more rye flavour in the 2012 release of George T. Stagg than in the 2011 release? I am not at all sure, but the guess that I would hazard is that the differences in the wood of the two releases probably either emphasised or cloaked one set of flavours relative to the other. In other words, the differences in the wood flavours of the two batches may have emphasised the ability to more easily identify the taste of corn in the 2011 release and the taste of rye in the 2012 release.

This is a subtle game, trying to figure out things like this. I think that it comes down to the flavour influences of the wood used in the specific barrels in the two releases...how did you get that last post read and responded to in 2 minutes flat?!?

@Onibubba

What could be a more appropriate soundtrack to this pour than the high lonesome sounds of Hank Williams III, a true devil born.

Aroma - How am I able to pick anything up other than alcohol? Has Satan gifted me with a Neat glass, or perhaps the nose of a jackal? Best not to question why, and just enjoy. Salted roasted macadamia nuts. Slightly burned coconut cream pie. And alcohol...Who am I kidding. This is thick with the stuff, but it is somehow beat down and thrown around enough to allow some chocolate covered pralines to make their presence known. Some great roasted meat aroma. Perhaps a soul is frying just out of sight?

A small sip begins to coat the tongue with sweetness before a numbing bitterness takes hold of the gums and sides of my mouth. Goes down with only the slightest of burns. Masterful.

Burning wood lingers. The sweetness only the faintest memory on the tongue. What to do but take another taste?

I am convinced that nothing short of a deal with Mr.Scratch himself could have produced something this smooth and yet this powerful. A crossroads deal well struck in my opinion.

This year I have one shot at BTAC bottle (but not PVW). My gut and your inspired review are telling me to go with Stagg.

@Victor

Many thanks to @cpstecroix for a sample of the 2012 George T. Stagg from the limited Ontario release, which preceded the 2012 USA release by four months

Nose: unbelievable, probably the best bourbon nose I have ever encountered, fiercely strong, incredibly beautiful, and quite mellow all at the same time. Perfection in the nose. There is beautiful sweet maple and oak, vanilla, natural wood caramel, rye and the semi-mute corn flavours, all beautiful, and all in perfect balance. A few drops of water tones down the flavours slightly, but brings out fruitiness. You could spend hours with this nose

Taste: the nose flavours are all there on the palate, with the addition of some dark fruits. As with the nose, this is the kind of whiskey you can explore for hours. This is quite enjoyable neat, but I prefer it with a few drops of water. Water brings out the flavours well. As with the nose, water brings out some fruitness. Out-of-this-world bourbon

Finish: everything present from the delivery continues long and strong

Balance: One more fantastic George T. Stagg. Everything is in balance, though I like the mouth flavours better with a bit of water than without. This is probably the best Stagg nose among the 2010, 2011, and 2012 releases, and probably the best of many very fine bourbon noses I have encountered. I liked the total package of 2010 George T. Stagg a little better because the mouth flavours of the 2010 release were completely accessible without any water. I do prefer adding the water here, for the palate. Now I will have to find bottles of this for myself to buy, about 8 weeks from now

Given that you're the one to introduce me to Stagg, I felt good that I could share the first pour off my bottle with you. I agree with your review BTW, the nose is amazing, almost too good to drink. Almost.

I'm on a waiting list for a bottle. Fingers crossed.

@SquidgyAsh

I've been wanting to try George T. Stagg ever since I heard about it. I'm a bourbon man, always have been. And from everything I'd ever heard this wasn't just the granddaddy of all bourbon, but more like a god of bourbon come down to earth in liquid form to please mere mortals.

Yah, I've wanted to try this for just a little while.

Now my wife and I had just finished a series of whisky and chocolate pairings at the local whisky bar, Helvetica, and I was left with one last dram to try. I'd already tried Dalwhinnie 15 yr old, Glenmorangie Qunita Ruban, Jameson 18 yr old, Aberlour Abunadh (Batch 36), Ardbeg 10 yr old, and after the chocolate tastings snagged a dram of the Ardbeg Day release.

When I'd first arrived at Helvetica we'd been a little early and when I saw that Helvetica had managed to snag a bottle of Stagg I KNEW I had to try it.

Now for the record I have no idea what release of Stagg this is due to the fact that the ABV listed on the website doesn't match up with any of the releases that I can find on Wikipedia. As you can see on the top of this review the ABV that I have listed is 74.3 and the highest listed on Wikipedia sits at 71.5 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeorgeT.Stagg)

So at best I can only surmise that this is the 2012, OR as I suspect, a misprint on the website.

Now to the whisky!!

So I snagged a dram of Stagg for $25 AUS and went upstairs to where the chocolate and whisky tastings were going to be held.

While we waited I decided to start nosing the Stagg, dying of anticipation!

Oh my bloody god.

The smells coming out of this little glass of whisky were phenomenal. No other word, brilliant, stunning, exquisite, you choose the adjective, as long as it means bloody good you're on the right track. You just need to think of something more awesome.

The bourbon smells of oak, red vine licorice, cherries, vanilla, honey all combine with the high alcohol.

But that's not the only thing on the nose!

I get orange rinds, rye, peppermint, maple syrup, hints of bananas and pears.

Bloody Hell!

This is an insanely complex nose.

I patiently sit through the whisky and chocolate pairings. Enjoying them, but every so often I look longingly at my little dram of Stagg.

I didn't have as much time as I wanted to spend with all the whiskies so I sat there and gave each whisky roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Trying to save the maximum amount of time for the Ardbeg Day release and the Stagg.

The reason behind it was every other whisky I tried that night I knew I could easily find it and try it again when I wanted to re experience them.

Not so with either the Ardbeg or the Stagg.

Now while we're waiting for the tasting to begin my wife after nosing the Stagg decides to take a sip and is immediately knocked for a loop, like a scene out of a 70's Batman TV episode.

BAM!

"Wow" she gasps to me.

"That is insane!" She whimpers.

"Good?" I reply timidly, worried that I might have got the first bad Stagg in history.

"No" she wheezes out.

She then decides to text our brother in law, who's been wanting to try Stagg forever that we'd just sat down to some Stagg.

Hahaha I love my evil wife.

I decide to take a cautious drop, and I mean a drop, as I didn't want to completely trash my palate for the main whisky tasting event.

A drop hits my tongue and it's like heaven has jumped up and down on my tongue. The flavors are indescribable, but hey that's my job right?

Cherries, oranges, peppermint candy, red vines, honey, vanilla, pears, oak, bananas, maple sugar, cinnamon, more spices, each one cries out to be heard.

Holy Sweet Baby Jebus!

And that's just a single little drop.

Just one.

After the main whisky event I went to my Stagg to explore it's awesomeness.

It is unbelievable. Each sip, each drop, a different flavor all calling out to be heard, all singing a lovely lovely song to the whisky gods in their honor.

The finish was INSANELY long with warmth filling my mouth and my stomach, showing me new flavors of oranges, honey, vanilla, cherries, peppermint all going down lovingly.

Jim Murray said in his 2012 Whisky Bible that it took him four hours to do his tasting notes, in a simplified form.

When I first read that I will be honest I scoffed.

I mean how can any whisky take four hour to do tasting notes on? I MEAN SERIOUSLY!

After tasting Stagg just once and seeing the complexity on it, the amazing balance, all I can say is I can EASILY see how it would take someone four hours to do the tasting notes on it for the first time.

And the thing about all this complexity, this balance is that the thing is bloody well near perfect. The only reason I'm not giving Stagg a higher score is because there is the possibility that I will encounter another whisky in my lifetime that I find to be more impressive.

The only flaw in the Stagg is the price point and availability. Right after this tasting I snagged a bottle for my brother in law for $240 AUS for his birthday. Now $240 AUS was CHEAP. And I snagged it for that price because I work for the owner of the company who sold me the bottle. I've sadly seen this bottle go for over $400 AUS over here. And that's when and if you're lucky enough to find it.

Hahaha I'm sorry if I was confusing Wills!

I LOVED the Stagg. It's an awesome, epic whisky. Nothing else describes it.

It is a whisky that just kept evolving and evolving and letting out more of it's secrets.

Awesome and complex I think would be the two best words to describe it.

I tasted it neat, however I did try adding water. I honestly didn't notice much difference between water and neat except with water it all felt weaker. However the time constraints could also play into that. I'd love to sit down with a bottle and try a few drams slowly adding just a drop at a time and seeing what that does.

I can only assume that the bar's information must be a typo. I'll confirm whether it is or not on July 4th when I visit again for another series of tastings.

I will be totally honest my friend it's one of the few whiskies I think is worth that massive price tag. A bottle would last one a LONG time. And my lucky brother in law was just given a bottle for his birthday by my wife and me before we snagged our own bottle which will occur sometime soon (I HOPE!!!)

Best bar story of all time, 2 nights ago me and a mate went to a bar and order a nip of GT-Stagg (2009 version). Got it for $10 (AU$) by a huge miscalculation on the bartenders part when it should have been $32. Continued to go back for 3 more nips each for $10 before the bartender looked at the back of the bottle where the bar had placed a sticky-note on the price per nip. Needless to say the poor bartender had the biggest "oh crap" moment of his life. Even though the 2010 version gets the biggest praise the nips I had where fantastic. My cravings for a bottle have been magnified to say the least.

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