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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.
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.
"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.
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.