When Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection is released every year, the bold, barrel proof George T. Stagg is a recurring favorite. In 2013, Buffalo Trace took note of that and released a small batch, barrel proof bourbon bearing the Stagg name. While much easier to find than GTS, Stagg Jr is still on a limited release schedule and therefore, availability varies throughout the year.
This past weekend I attended a right to buy bourbon lottery at The Rural Inn, hands down the best honey hole in Indianapolis. The lottery is structured to reward the most loyal customers – For the past two months every visit to the store earned one lottery ticket, and each bourbon bottle purchased earned an additional ticket. This year was the most attended lottery since it’s inception, drawing hundreds of bourbon lovers to a hole in the wall liquor store for a chance at your choice of the bourbon selection of your dreams.
With two winning tickets called pretty late in the draw, I walked out with a bottle of Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof, and Knob Creek 25th Anniversary. But my favorite pickup of the day wasn’t even part of the lottery to begin with. As I was standing in line to grab a cheap bottle of Heaven Hill or Old Grand Dad to snag one last lottery ticket before the drawing (which ended up being a winner!), I spotted a few bottles of Stagg Jr hiding on the corner of the shelf and couldn’t resist. Needless to say, I felt like I had already won before the lottery began.
- ABV: 65.95%, 131.9 Proof
- Age: “Nearly a Decade” (Likely around 8 years)
- Company/Distillery: Sazerac, Buffalo Trace
- Mash Bill: Unknown, 10% or less Rye
- Price: $55
Appearance: Auburn, Tawny
Nose: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Vanilla, Clove, Hint of Cherry
Taste: Brown Sugar, Toasted Oak, Rye Spiciness, Honey
Finish: Long and spicy, Lots of Oak and Rye with just a touch of Brown Sugar to keep it in check
Overall: The back label on the bottle reads “Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of George T. Stagg himself.” Those two descriptors, robust and bold, fit this bottle to a “T”. It’s pretty hot, which is to be expected from a barrel proof bourbon, but with enough complexity and depth to balance it out. Notably, I didn’t pick up nearly as much citrus/fruity acidity that is so prevalent in Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, etc. It’s there, but more subtly balanced with the darker sweet notes. This is the first bottle of Stagg Jr I’ve ever purchased, and the first I’ve had of Batch 9, and my only regret is not buying more than one. If you’ve read many other Stagg Jr reviews, you’ve surely noticed the general consensus that the more recent batches are far better than the older stuff. While I can’t speak for the early batches, batch 9 is solid. At about the same price as Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof, I’d take Stagg Jr any day. While it certainly doesn’t compared to George T Stagg (I mean, what can?), Stagg Jr is a fantastic barrel proof bourbon at a very reasonable price.