It’s been a while since I’ve had the iconic George T. Stagg (perhaps since 2012, I’m not too sure). The flagship bottling from Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky and one of the strongest whiskeys I’ve ever come accross (usually 60-70°: Hazmat).
Some time ago The Whisky Exchange released a set of several samples from the yearly Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, but even that set is long gone.
George T. Stagg 15 yo 2003 (62,45%, OB 2018, 37.111 btl.)
Nose: actually quite civilized compared to these 70% versions. Aromatic wood shavings, pencils, vanilla and new leather, with maple syrup, Coca-Cola and mint cordial close behind it. Caramel pastry. Caraway seeds and chocolate. Tobacco leaves. Very dense.
Mouth: very woody. Entirely on pine wood, mint and eucalyptus, truckloads of pepper and trademark leather. Ouch. Turkish coffee. Zesty citrus. Something slightly fragrant (women’s powder), must be the wood again. Oak char, burnt cherries. Once the alcohol kick is gone, there’s a big sweet side, with blackberry jam and deep syrupy notes, always showing peppermint and aniseed in the background. Flat Cola indeed.
Finish: very long, with lots of charred wood, cinnamon, peppermint and leather.
Still a benchmark when it comes to bourbon whiskey dialled to 11. Immense flavours, fighting each other to be noticed. Excellent but you really have to like oak. Always gone before you know it, fetching high prices because of its reputation. The 2020 Antique Collection is on its way.