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Stagg Jr. Bourbon

9 Batches of Jr.

3 291

@NockReview by @Nock

12th Apr 2023


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I have been a big fan of Stagg Jr since it came out in 2013. At the end of 2022 it has finally dropped its “Jr.” status and is officially just “Stagg.” One of my local friends was just given a bottle of Batch #16 for his birthday in March. He asked me if I knew anything about the bottle . . . Why yes, yes I do. He graciously allowed me to take a sample. And I knew what I had to do. On Easter Sunday I again found myself alone for the whole afternoon. So, it was time for an Epic Stagg Jr. tasting. I have saved samples of 9 batches from #1 to #16. I have been saving @Nozinan’s sample of Batch #7 since he gave it to me in 2018. At long last.

The set up? I poured 15mL of all 9 samples into blue nosing glasses labeled on the bottom. Put lids on and mixed them up. I tasted them blind in sets of three (with more than an hour between each tasting set). I didn’t know it at the time but here were the groupings and order. #16, #6, #4 then #11, #2, #9, and finally #7, #1, and #5. Here were my results:

Short score in batch order:

Stagg Jr. 67.2% (Batch #1) = 95%

Stagg Jr. 64.35% (Batch #2) = 87%

Stagg Jr. 66.10% (Batch #4) = 93%

Stagg Jr. 64.85% (Batch #5) = 90%

Stagg Jr. 66.25% (Batch #6) = 92%

Stagg Jr. 65% (Batch #7) = 93%

Stagg Jr. 65.95% (Batch #9) = 86%

Stagg Jr. 63.95% (Batch #11) = 89%

Stagg Jr. 65.45% (Batch #16) = 92%

Tasting order with thoughts:

Stagg Jr. 65.45% (Batch #16) = 92% – This ended up as the first nose of the night. So, for better or worse it really did set the bar for this tasting. I will say it started off fantastic with nice baked brown sugar that was deep luscious and luxurious. What I really noticed is how much less alcohol burn it had compared with #6 and #4 right after it. It really seemed to be one of the lowest proof batches, but it still had all the depth of flavor of #4 which was impressive. There were two slight nocks. First, the finish wasn’t as big and epic as #6 and #4. Second, I ended up preferring the nose of #4 just slightly, but preferred this to #6. That is why it ended up just below #4 and tied with #6. Still, a really good batch from my friend Steve. It is his first bottle. He typically just drinks Buffalo Trace. He told me that this bottle has ruined him for bourbon. Very true.

Stagg Jr. 66.25% (Batch #6) = 92% – For a long time this was nosing dead even with Batch #16. This one had more heat to it and slightly less fruit. It was a hair more thin in the midrange than #16. I prefer this style with more of a caramel baked brown sugar and cast-iron baked crumble. But I had to give the edge to #16 on the nose. This is big, bold, spicy, and sweet. But just slightly thinner than #4 and #16. However, on the finish it took the edge back. So it ended up tied with #16. This batch is slightly thinner and slightly more powerful than #16. But that is really splitting very fine hairs. Still, one of the better batches for sure.

Stagg Jr. 66.10% (Batch #4) = 93% – Across the board this was a good batch dominated by brown sugar with only a slight fruit note of cherries. I tend to not like that sour note (of cherry or lemon) in my bourbon. So, it started off at a disadvantage. Initially my thought was I preferred #16, then #6 with this batch last. But the more I came back to it the more complex I found it to be and the more credit I had to give it. It really came roaring back on the palate and finish. It always maintained that hint of cherry and fruit, but it was always balanced by brown sugar, maple syrup, and spice. It ended up my favorite in its group of #6 and #16. And it survived well in a sample bottle since 2016.

Stagg Jr. 63.95% (Batch #11) = 89% – This was a nice batch all around. It was very much in the same vein with baked brown sugar, caramel, and baked crumble. Not bad, not sour, not overly oaky. My main complaint is that it was much thinner than the rest of the batches . . . by quite a bit. It didn’t have the depth and richness of the others – particularly in the midrange. It was thin on the palate, but still hand an enjoyable finish of brown sugar, red hots, and oak.

Stagg Jr. 64.35% (Batch #2) = 87% – This batch had a wonderfully thick and rich nose of brown sugar, maple syrup and a fruit compote. It was deep and rich across the register from low to mid to high range. One of the best noses of the night; more enjoyable than every batch except for Batch #1. Sadly, the palate and finish were both thinner and far more sour than the nose let on. Very sour lemon notes on the palate and finish kind of ruined it for me. It is possible this was from being in a sample bottle since 2015 . . . but looking back on my notes from November of 2015 I had almost the exact same reaction then – loved the nose, sour palate and finish. I scored it 86% in 2015 and only looked up my old score after this blind tasting.

Stagg Jr. 65.95% (Batch #9) = 86% – This was the clear stinker of the night. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a decent barrel proof bourbon. You immediately get brown sugar and lemon peel. But the nose had a very strong sour note to it that really puts me off. It was also very thin and drying compared with the others. Looking back at my old notes it looks like I really enjoyed it during my first two tastings (both blind) in January (93%) and then August (93%) of 2018. But by December of that year the bottle had taken a sour turn and scored 86%. So, my guess is that sample bottle has simply maintained that “soured” batch since 2018 when I rebottled it. Shame. I do believe it was much better when freshly cracked.

Stagg Jr. 65% (Batch #7) = 93% – This nose immediately came across as a classic Buffalo Trace nose with brown sugar, rock candy, and light ripe cherries. I could easily spot elements of Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, and even Weller. It was nicely balanced across the spectrum from deep sweet low tones of brown sugar and oak, a nice complex midrange of maple syrup, rock candy, and soaring high citrus and cherry notes up high. A really great balanced batch. Clearly, I wish I had owned a bottled. @ Nozinan thank you so much for the sample!

Stagg Jr. 67.2% (Batch #1) = 95% – I know I am alone in loving this batch. When it was first released in 2013 it was met with harsh reviews and criticism of being way too hot and too tannic. I loved it then. I love it now. It is my favorite batch. I haven’t tasted any since 2018. And blind tonight among 9 batches of Stagg Jr. it was clearly different from the other batches. It was much darker than all the rest. It has deep dark almost burnt brown sugar and strong wood notes that were almost tannic. There isn’t a hint of fruit, citrus, or sour cherries anywhere. It was just huge baked brown sugar and cast iron. I tasted it next to #7 and #5. Where #7 was a balanced example of Buffalo Trace distillate, this was a deep dark monster. I could almost believe this was a batch of George T. Stagg.

Stagg Jr. 64.85% (Batch #5) = 90% – This batch also had those sweet and sour notes of brown sugar and a splash of lemon juice. On the thinner side in terms of flavors, depth, and mouthfeel of the batches, but not the thinnest (that was #11). But all that thinness does make it seem younger. A decent batch, but clearly not my favorite. Maybe because it was in competition with #7 and #1. It rides the line of a good enjoyable batch.

Related George T Stagg reviews


Victor commented

Great labour of love to review all 9 of these batches. Thank you, @Nock!

I still have an unopened bottle of Batch # 1. Your testimony about air effects upon it have given me some hope that my thought that a lot of air time might do some very good things to it may be accurate. When you say that your bottle has become somewhat George T. Stagg-like, you have my full attention. That batch certainly has the power and intensity in spades. In an analogous sense it reminds me of that wonderful single cask Kilchoman to which you introduced me. The one whose review I titled Searing Vehemence.

I do fully understand you with that Stagg Jr Batch # 1. There is no level of bitterness and no level of tannin which turns you off. For that reason you can enjoy the intensity of the bitter tannic ride. As you allude, that is a rare reaction to this particular batch. I brought a sample of that one to Toronto one time. 10 people tried it. 10 people disliked it-- a lot.

10 months ago 0

Nozinan commented

@Nock Great line-up. I agree with your assessment of batch 7. I have to say I remember liking batch 8 just a little bit more. I'm saddened that I didn't think to get to a sample of that one. I have a spare. I could definitely put away a sample for you.

10 months ago 0

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