Updated: Jan 22, 2021
Stagg Jr. - Batch 10 - 63.2%
Context: Batch 4 of Stagg Jr. is where I jumped in - after those nuclear batches that earned reviews like this one from Breaking Bourbon. Lots of early side-eye. By the time I tried it, I liked it significantly better than E.H. Taylor BP, better than Knob Creek Single Barrel, Russell's Reserve, better than 60% of the random Four Roses Private Selections I grabbed. I didn't like it quite as much as most the old label ECBP batches. Compared to George T. Stagg, there was still a sizable gap between father and son. Until around batch 9.
After that, rising barrels counts for the GTS blend (twice the barrels used between 2016 and 2017) and what drank as more well-aged stock in the Jr. significantly narrowed the quality margin. (I did batch 9 and 2017 GTS blind on three occasions. Each time I was surprised how little separated them). Stagg Senior maintained the edge in terms of depth and complexity. But where GTS used to be a "nothing else can compare" kind of pour, now, it was, "Hey, if you can't get GTS - no worries. Grab the Stagg Jr. You'll save money and not miss much."
That brings us to today, where those continual rising bottle counts coupled with the success of Stagg Jr. seems to be chipping away at some of GTS' secondary allure while creating plenty of demand for Jr. in the process. The other 4 BTAC offerings don't have the same kind of quality equivalent available in the core line-up, allowing bottles like Handy to creep up on it in value. Not coincidentally, it was around batch 9 and 10 that Stagg Jr. got tougher for me to track down at retail in Chicago. This batch 10 is the last bottle I've seen on the shelf with a proper price tag. I used to just pick it up randomly when I saw one and was empty.
Nose: Candied cherry. Vanilla frosting. Pecan praline. Leather. Dark chocolate. Cinnamon. Freshly chopped firewood. Deep, layered and balanced - proof is in check, but it’s not quiet. There’s not a whole lot more you can ask out of a bourbon nose.
Flavor: Medicinal cherry. Oak is well structured and mature - it’s a big, bold note. Cherry pokes in throughout the finish. Oak maintains a strong sustain. Not overly complex. But the oak is well done.
Palate Structure: Thick and chewy on the palate. Quick spike and then calms down, taking its time unspooling. Plenty of heat. Bold, clear flavors. Long and layered with fruit and oak in the finish.
Alcohol Integration: No complaints here. It's rough right where it should be.
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Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) This drinks like a 7, but I'm tempted to give it an 8. These days, I would probably "Stash One" (at the right price). But that would be a scarcity purchase not a quality purchase. Quality-wise, this is missing a few ticks of complexity to bump it into that range.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour