George T. Stagg 2019

Thanks to Devoz  for this dram.

What was the occasion: End of year tasting which should have happened at the end of last year but Covid happened and we all decided that we’re dedicated to enjoying whisky, not dying to drink whisky. Important distinction there. This whiskey comes after two lighter Scotch’s I had to open up the taste buds, all while in terrible broken leg pain.

What whisky did we review? George T. Stagg 2019, a part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, or BTAC, which you should say out loud as if it’s an acronym because that makes me laugh and the hoi polloi of whiskey fans angry.

The 2019 year release of George T. Stagg was met with… anger and rioting in the streets by bourbon fans who are used to the Abv. starting with a 6 or a 7.

What’s the distillery? Buffalo Trace is a Kentucky distillery that’s owned by Sazerac and well known for bourbons that cost a lot of money that people tend to enjoy in their mouth, less so in their wallet.

It’s also the oldest continuously-operating distillery in the US, but that’s from the Guinness Book of World Records so take that with a grain of salt, because someone may have just paid for that. Or maybe not. They also recently sold OFC whiskies along with NFTs, so it’s not all happiness and good ideas over at Buffalo Trace.

What’s my bias? When I’m hunting for a bourbon to buy, I look for Heaven Hills. When my father is hunting for a bourbon to buy, he’s hunting for Buffalo Trace. Since I get along with him, I have a positive view of the distillery’s products, even if I can’t drink them half the time, what with taters tatering up their products.

A George T. Stagg release (2012) is one of my favourite bourbons of all time. However I’m also primarily a Scotch fan and if I like a bourbon, a lot of bourbon fans disagree with me. Also my actual favourite bourbon was partially aged in Scotland and was very different in the typical bourbon profile.

Finally I’m not a huge fan of NFTs and rare bourbons that are never going to be drank and are instead glass dust collectors, so sometimes I’m harsher on a whiskey that would cost me most of my life savings.

But I’ve done this song and dance before. End of the day, we’re here to discuss the bourbon as something to taste, not the annoying market around it.

So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: Your soul and the soul of your families and potentially an eternity working in the mines of hell (aka current resale price)

Region: Kentucky

Vintage: 2004

Bottled: 2019

Cask type: New, White Oak #4 Char, 55 seconds

Abv: 58.45%

Colour: 7.5 YR 4/8

Nose: Strawberry jam, soap, blueberry, beurre sable

Oh. I get why the average American whiskey fan wasn’t happy about this. It really, really doesn’t nose like a bourbon.

This is fruity, has some shortbread notes (that’s what beurre sable is close to for anyone wondering), and some strong soap notes. It’s odd. Of course, as someone who likes floral and sugar notes, I’m a happy camper.

Taste: Brown sugar/sugar cane, oak/carrot, pine, strawberry

Okay, we’re back in bourbon territory on the taste. It’s not as hazmat-level mind-blowing as previous Stagg releases (not to be mixed up with Stagg Jr.) It has fruity and pine elements. Those aren’t the cherry notes that previous BTAC releases have had which blew everyone’s minds.

It’s somewhere between elements I”m used to from Buffalo Trace products and from European-aged bourbons (which typically have more in common with Scotch in terms of flavours). It’s probably the first that’s right down the middle, so I’m enjoying this.

Finish: Molasses, berries, grassy, mint, anise

Wow that’s weird for a bourbon. Almost like a 2nd-fill sherry cask. No cherry, grassy, and sulphur elements. Granted some of that has brown sugar you find in bourbons, but that’s like trying to compare apples and peregrine falcons by bringing up they are both carbon based.

Conclusion: Oh. So it’s for non-bourbon fans. I’m sure this wasn’t divisive at all. I’m sure a lower abv George T. Stagg of one of the hottest bourbons that resells for homes in Wyoming didn’t cause a lot of anger at all.

Should you hunt down this bourbon? That’s quite the loaded question. Maybe?

I mean, I personally would, but again, let’s look at my biases: I like odd stuff, I like George T. Stagg, and I’m primarily a Scotch drinker. If you read the above and feel it wouldn’t be in your wheelhouse, and you’re not collecting these to just show off the BTAC set in an underground speakeasy, then I already find that silly because kick-ass dragon figurines are cheaper and Warhammer allows you to be artistic and they both look cooler on a mantle.

Granted I also played Magic for 10 years so maybe I shouldn’t judge where people spend their money.

The answer I’ll give you is this: If you’re collecting, you already bought this. If you’re wondering about it, pay for an ounce. If you love it, hunt it down. If you don’t, then you’re only out the going rate for a glass, which should only be your kidney or maybe your left foot.


Bourbon review #287, Kentucky review #182, Whiskey Network review #2344

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