The George T. Stagg review
Company: Buffalo Trace
Age: 15 years, 4 months
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: Buffalo Trace mash bill #1 (<10%rye)
Price: c. £450
George T Stagg is part of the limited production collection known as the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC to the cool kids) It is uncut, unfiltered, and has been a yearly autumn release since 2002 (apart from 2005, when there were actually 3 releases in that calendar year. What a time to have been alive). The BTAC is probably the most sought after American whiskey in the world and demand outstrips supply many times over each year.
The bourbon is named after the one time owner of what is now known as the Buffalo Trace distillery. Mr Stagg bought the distillery from Edmund H Taylor (mmm, we’ve heard of him), in 1878 when it was the OFC (Old Fire Copper) distillery. Stagg installed a steam heating system to create the first ever climate controlled warehouse for aging whiskey in the US.
As with all the Antique Collection offerings, the alcohol by volume can be different each year alongside the number of barrels which are blended together. The greatest concern for all bourbon lovers is the alarming amount of whiskey which is lost over the years due to evaporation during the aging process. When the Gents shuffle off this mortal coil we pray each night to be angels in the Buffalo Trace warehouse.
Since the first release it has continued to win some of the world’s most prestigious whiskey awards, including the 2018 Best American Whisky No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels) in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. In 2017 it reached the pinnacle of all awards by being named the Bourbon Gents 2017 Bourbon of the Year Top 10 - Bourbon of the Year 2017 or what are more affectionately known as the BOTY’s.
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – Surprisingly delicate on the nose for such an incredibly high ABV; the expected recoil just isn’t there. Toffee, apple (and indeed toffee apples themselves), cherry, tobacco and leather alongside espresso coffee beans
What they say we should get - aromatic and warm with no alcohol burn despite the high proof, and has notes of black cherries, cocoa, vanilla, sawdust, pipe tobacco, and old leather
What we got – Warmth and intensity from the offset but then the alcohol really hits you. Very dry and woody with the tobacco smoke coming through from the nose. We can't state enough what an intense and beautiful flavour this thing presents. The coffee from the nose makes another appearance and mingles with hints of dark chocolate
What they say we should get - mouth-puckeringly dry and intensely spicy with cinnamon candies, chili powder, honey, vanilla, espresso beans, dark chocolate, and a hint of raspberry jam in the background
What we got – A touch of spice on the back of the throat with an exceptionally long and - that word again - 'intense' finish
What they say we should get – long, spicy, and might just make you break out in a sweat
The Gents thought they were extremely lucky when they were given an opportunity to try George T Stagg in our local whiskey bar. You can only imagine the levels of giddiness which ensued when Mav actually received a bottle of GTS as a Christmas gift.
The bottle received and reviewed above was barrelled in 2001 and released in the autumn of 2016. It is the 2nd highest ABV ever of George T Stagg bourbon since its introduction. Only the 2007 edition was a higher ABV at a whopping 72.4%.
142 barrels of whiskey were used to produce only 9,120 bottles of heavenly goodness. A mind blowing 75.9% of the original liquid had been lost to evaporation over the maturation period.
The viscosity of this liquid has to be seen to be believed and leaves treacle like legs in the glass when swirled around. It has probably the finest nose the Gents have ever experienced and the sheer numbers of descriptors are almost infinite. George T Stagg is the complete American Whiskey experience and has achieved the highest combined score on our website and (spoiler alert) has also been awarded our first ever 10 score.
If this bourbon could be purchased for its recommended retail price ($90), it would be the finest daily sipper known to mankind. Unfortunately for the UK based Gents this is more likely to be a once in lifetime bottle.
10 out of 10 - Mav
9 out of 10 – Mr. Pie