Wednesday 19 March 2014

Tasted #69: George T Stagg Bourbon (#101drams)

It's been a few months since the last #101drams tasting, so it's high time we rectified that. What better way to do that with the highest ABV whiskey tasted on this site to date? At a ridiculous 70.7% (it's not the 71.4% of the 2012 release, but she'll do..) George T Stagg Bourbon isn't what you'd call a breakfast whiskey...

For those unfamiliar with this beast, it's part of Buffalo Trace's "Antique Collection". an annual collection of limited releases typically aged longer than the standard Buffalo Trace releases. Highly sought-after, the "BTAC" releases often sell out in a matter of days upon release in the US. If you can find a bottle of Stagg in Australia it'll likely be between $300-$400AUD.

..which is why, when I saw it on the menu at Neutral Bay's The White Hart (one of our favourite LoNoSho bars) for something like $18/nip, I jumped at it. The pricing disparity on various bar menus around Sydney always amuses me. It's not uncommon to see a $150 to $200/bottle whisk(e)y for say $20/nip, whereas on the same menu something like Ron Zacapa 23 (which usually sells for $90/bottle) will sell for $23-$24/nip. Crazy. I get that different bars have different suppliers, allegiances to Diageo, Pernod, Brown Forman etc, but it's still always amusing.

Still, I wasn't complaining. Here was a chance to tick off a #101drams whisky for relatively little outlay!

George T Stagg Bourbon 2009 (70.7% ABV, NAS, Kentucky, USA, $399AUD)
Colour: Deep, rich, dark copper. They say the average age is 15 years and it's clearly taken on a lot of wood in that time.

Nose: Rich, full, with a strong oak influence. Bananas.

Palate: So smooth, yet so hot. Instant heat, but not a bad, harsh alcohol burn. Some very sweet maple notes, with hints of vanilla. A few drops of water (which you pretty much have to try with a whiskey of this ABV) didn't change the nose a lot, but exploded all the same notes on the palate, especially the vanilla.

Finish: LONG. Vanilla, with hints of tropical fruit (pineapple predominantly) towards the end. Didn't expect that.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. A beast of a whisky, but certainly not unapproachable. A whiskey I'd happily drink again, and would consider buying if I found for a reasonable price (likely only in the US).

 - Martin.

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