Thanks /u/devoz for the sample.
I recently posted a review of George T. Stagg from 2017, in which I noted I enjoyed it quite a bit. During the review, some had mentioned that they had tried it alongside Stagg Jr. – 9th Edition, and during blind tests, had preferred it over the last year’s GTS.
Quite the bombshell, and exciting too. It’s easier to obtain Stagg Jr. – 9th Edition, as it’s aged for less year and has more bottles out. Also somehow the local provincial liquor cartel had obtained it, and as such, I was excited that there was a bourbon I could attempt to try.
Thus I was poured a sample to see what I thought about this comparison. It should be noted that George T. Stagg and Stagg Jr. are different, with different age statements, different barrels, etc. in the making of it. Also, a collection of barrels can differ from one another, even if made at the same time or in the same still or with the same mashbill.
Secondly, we should nod to GTS being, sometimes, an abnormally among bourbons in that it resembles a more Scotch-like profile of greater complexity and lesser intensity when compared to other bourbons. This is an important point to remember, as people can enjoy either one. For some of us, we prefer the more complexity, and for others, they want that intensity.
So, with all that in mind, and I speak in this way as I’ve gotten more outright hatred from bourbon fans than others, let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: $83.35 CAD at the LCBO
Batch # 9
Colour: 7.5YR 5/8
Nose: Peach cobbler, fruit punch, roasted peanuts, buttered toast, funk
Big flavours of peach cobbler and fruit punch (some would even say cherries for the fruit punch) are right up front.
Eventually, that calms down enough for some wonderful roasted peanut and butter toast. Heck, even some funk. If I was nosing this completely blind, I’d probably have guessed a Tobermory after water was added. However, for those of you concerned about that profile getting in, remember that the fruit punch and more American style influences are right up front here. So it’s definitely bourbon.
Taste: Peach jam, molasses & pancakes, butter, cloves, mint
Simpler notes now with stronger intensity. Like a switch going off, the liquid hitting your tongue changes gears.
At this point it’s closer to other Stagg Jr. ones I’ve had. Lots of butter, some peach, and those big buttery and spice notes. It’s a joy to sip, with water opening up the mint.
Finish: Grassy, burnt sugar, honey, oak, tobacco
Finish is grassy. I’ve said this before, however in my house, my wife is the cigar fan, and I’m not. Just can’t get into tobacco.
That said, this doesn’t scream tobacco too much until you really get into it. It’s tricking you, like all those people handing out free drugs I was promised in high school and never met.
Conclusion: Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I had really, really delved into this whiskey, with and without water, and reviewed my notes that I realized that this is a liquid cigar. It has those interesting notes that I’ve read about in cigar journals or had others explain to me or encountered myself (usually with lots of coughing and hating myself).
So I have two basic conclusions on this whiskey: From a personal standpoint I prefer the GTS over it, as while they both have great noses, I find GTS more complex and does more of that “blending of complex flavours together” that I prefer. So you have that. Not to mention I’m not that big of a fan of tobacco, so it’s not for me.
HOWEVER, I don’t think that’s all you should take away from this. I would hope if you’re reading this, you’re actually reading the whole thing and not just the score. Because if I was pouring something for a bourbon fan, I’d pour Stagg Jr. – 9th Edition every time over the GTS, and twice on Sundays if they were a bourbon fan.
Bourbon review #226, Kentucky review #145, Whiskey Network review #1456