Last week I sat down and reviewed the 2014 Sazerac Rye 18 Year and so I felt it was appropriate to turn to another item in the 2014 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection offerings, the George T. Stagg. The 2014 Stagg was composed of barrels aged no less than 16 years and bottle uncut and unchilfiltered at 138.1 proof with a little less than 11,000 bottles produced.
When I first sniffed this bourbon I was immediately hit hard in the nose by the high proof. After the first wave of alcohol I was surprised by the slight citrus tones. After letting it sit for a few minutes, the smoky cinnamon scents came out as well a slight backend of dry tobacco. A very satisfying beginning.
I was surprised at the small hint of cinnamon at the beginning. Along with the cinnamon there was the ever so slight taste of slight burned wood. While there is a definite caramel sweetness, it is tempered by the dry tobacco and leather tastes. Since this is a high proof bourbon, water is definitely required. How much is up to you. Without the addition of at least a small amount of water, the flavors just jumble together and are over matched by the heat.
Aside from the heat, the finish starts sweet then switches to the dry ness of the leather and wood. The pure heat lasts evenly till the end. All the way through the end George T. Stagg is full bodied and robust and very fulfilling.
This bourbon is a bourbon drinkers’ bourbon. It embodies all the strengths of what is desired from a bourbon and yields none of the weaknesses. This is a hard to find drink, a very hard to find drink but so worth the hunt. This is as close as I’ve had to a perfect bourbon.
This is a bottle worth stock piling even at today's secondary prices (around $450).