George T. Stagg – 2013 (64.1%)

George-T-Stagg-2013Along with the rest of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, George T. Stagg hasn’t quite reached Pappy Van Winkle status, but it’s quickly gaining ground and is just about as hard to get. They only release it once or twice a year, so you may need to develop a relationship with your local liquor store to procure a bottle. The truth is, if you haven’t found a bottle of this yet, then you’re most likely out of luck for a few months, stuck looking for it at bars, or resigned to playing victim to some hopeful opportunist who bought their entire local supply as an investment so they could sell it for triple what it’s worth.

At first, I wasn’t even going to review this one. It’s so difficult to find that I feel like reviews of it are practically useless. I always imagined people reading this blog were looking for advice on how to spend their money, and rarity considered, a review doesn’t seem like it would serve very many.

Also, it seems like many (not all) of the people who review this kind of stuff are the type of elitist drinkers who like to brag about their collections and all the pricey finds they paid out the nose for. Oh hi, Twitter. I didn’t see you standing there. What’s this, you say? Oh, it’s just a Stitzel-Weller bottling of Old Dickwad 15. It’s suuuuper rare. Woh.

So why bother writing about it? Well okay, maybe I’m a bit of a braggart. (Look what I got, suckas!) That aside, it’s a common sentiment that older whisky is better than younger whisky, though the truth isn’t quite so simple. There’s a finite lifetime on how long whisky can spend in a virgin cask before it becomes undrinkable and this one may be approaching the point of no return. Despite the suspicious lack of an age statement on the bottle, Buffalo Trace’s webpage claims that this whisky is “no less than 15 years old”. If you ask me, after I bought this, I think buying a second bottle would have been a colossal waste of money for me. In that spirit of dissent, I figured a review was prudent, after all.

charlie sheenThis whisky is out of control and I don’t mean the fun “out of control,” like your buddy with the bald tires who goes e-braking around the parking lot the first time it snows each year. This is Charlie Sheen’s Twitter account, out of control. The kind of reckless tweeting that needs a second service so it can operate at full, ludicrous capacity (TwitLonger). This whisky is the kind that angrily capitalizes random WORDS for extra EMPHASIS in between delusions of coke-fueled grandeur, all while arbitrarily bashing the enter key between prepositions. This is the whisky equivalent of that guy we all wish we could have hung out with for a few weeks when we were sixteen, broke and dumb as hell. Sure it’s fun, but I definitely wouldn’t want to live with it, and earnestly trying to understand its musings for more than five minutes at a time is a masochist’s errand.

Ironically, I think the George T. Stagg earns such high praise because of its long history of ridiculousness. Previous releases have boasted proofs that hovered around 140. Trust me when I say you don’t want to know what’ll happen if you accidentally inhale some of that while sipping. I can’t say the 2013 is better or worse than previous releases, but I do feel like it’s probably riding on the coattails of shenanigans past.

Nose: Figs marinated in soy sauce. Deeply roasted pecans over green bananas. Caramel popcorn from a tin. Oak, oak, and oak beside a plate of marzipan dusted with stale, smoked maple sugar. Corn starch dusted carnations and pine resin. It’s sour, rubbery, slightly medicinal and has an almost peaty, phenolic quality to it. If there is a Satan, I would wager that this is what his tears smell like. 

Palate: Predictably HOT and drying at full strength (duh!) followed quickly by a touch of uncured composite tooth filling. Though even with water, the hotness persists, so it’s not just a product of the high abv. It has a strong cooling character that paints your tonsils and makes me feel like I’m drinking a first aid kit full of dry, black licorice, chocolate and pecan skins. Vanilla beans! Candy cinnamon, raw capsaicin and clover buds sprinkled over a plate of the eternally malevolent’s tears.

Rating: Try itThis is a legendary whisky and absolutely worth trying it if you can find it. Old Bourbon isn’t for everyone though, so keep that in mind. One last word of advice: this should only retail for $80-90 in the US. If someone’s trying to sell you a bottle for $250 it’s because they think or hope that you’re an idiot.

4 thoughts on “George T. Stagg – 2013 (64.1%)

  1. The Alemonger

    So I’m minding my own business when none other than G-Lo of Its Just The Booze Dancing fame sends me a link to what I imagine to be a tutorial on lifting a glass of whisky to one’s mouth and allowing passage of the liquid contained therein. How to drink whisky, right?

    Wrong. I was horrified to see that the same G-Lo who gently coerced me into buying the bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel which I was “researching” last night, also subjected me to George T Stagg a couple weeks ago! What was he thinking? I’m a pure soul with no proclivities towards gaining acceptance nor affinity with Beezlebub (the guy who invented eggs) by consorting with his tears. Shit! I liked the stuff (always been just a tad partial to uncured compost but I also picked up a hint of steel cut George Foreman Grilled kimchee and a certain vernal opacity that I’d be able to put my finger on but those sorts of things are better left to the midgets, er… vertically challenged).

    Anyway, thanks for the great read. Now I have to reevaluate my prior stance against randomly bashing the enter key between prepositions.


    1. Shane Post author

      Hahaha! Thanks for the kind words and I’m sorry if you left feeling sullied… but seriously, how fucking awesome are eggs! G-Lo should probably warn people before sending them here. Tell him I said whaddup and thanks, brotha. Cheers!

      1. G-LO

        Back’atcha Brotha Shane! And perhaps tis I that should be sending you a warning about The Alemonger. He be trippy Yo! In a very nice way of course. 🙂

  2. Moe

    I’m just 48 but a very fond member of the bourbon club. Both as a drinker and collector. I have all of the Buffalo Trace Collection from 2011 to present, some drank, some on my wall. I have drank the 23 year old PVW. All very good, some just flat out gas. Now,,, let’s get away from price and reputation. I was recently invited to a bourbon party in NYC at of all places, The Whiskey Bar. I tasted many different Bourbons and Rye’s. I found BY-FAR the best Rye I have ever tastes. It’s Angels Envy Cask Rye. Let me just say amazing. You have to try it. As a matter a fact. Going to pour one now. Take it from a young bourbonite! The best u have ever had. He’ll my wife likes it. I believe the bourbon is in its second year and first year for the Rye. Just try it, u will never over pay for the Buffalo Trace Family again.


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