I've reviewed Batch 8 of Stagg Jr before, but batch variation (and bottle variation) being what it is, I think it's worth reviewing this bottle of Batch 9.
- Nose (undiluted): lots of juicy dark cherries, some fresh tobacco, oak, brown sugar, pepper, a little wood varnish coming through after about a 10 minute rest in the glass. A longer rest in the glass reveals more rich toasted oak aromas and some leather.
- Palate (undiluted): rich arrival, a bit waxy, brown sugar, dark cherries, barrel char, toasted oak, and some vanilla
- Finish: long, warming, vanilla frosting, black tea, a bit of nutmeg, black pepper and cinnamon, dark cherries lingering,
With water the cherries are toned down a little and some of the barrel notes take over. There's more waxiness and more of the black tea notes present. It's less fruity and also a bit less sweet, drier with water added. I prefered it neat. Despite the high abv, it's quite sippable without any water.
This is a fantastic bourbon. There's no other way to put it. It hits all the right notes and there is absolutely nothing "off" in my glass. The high proof allows all the flavours to come through without being overwhelming. Despite some reported early misses (full disclosure, I haven't tried any batches before Batch 8), Stagg Jr. seems to be like the great Beatles albums: each one different yet possessing an obvious commonality, and all are fantastic. This one doesn't have the cacao/dark chocolate I got from Batch 8, but seems a bit more balanced overall.
Of the three recent batches I've tasted(65%, 64.75% and this one), this is my least favourite and the only one I haven't a spare to (my friend who says he bought it for me lost it in London...).
I do find them a bit "hot" on initial pour, but I tend to drink slowly, and after 30-60 minutes I find they open up nicely.
I didn't like the first batch of Stagg Jr., but since then, I haven't had one that I did NOT like.