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...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.