Bourbon Review

Bourbon Review: Stagg Jr Batch 17

Stagg Jr. Bourbon is a barrel-proof bourbon whiskey produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. It was first released in the fall of 2013, and is named after George T. Stagg, a 19th-century bourbon businessman who built the distillery that would eventually be renamed Buffalo Trace.

Stagg Jr. is made with Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill #1, which is also used to make Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Jr. bourbon, the brand’s eponymous Buffalo Trace bourbon, and more. The whiskey is aged for 7-9 years in new, charred oak barrels, and is bottled at its natural barrel strength, without chill filtration. This gives Stagg Jr. its signature bold flavor profile.

Stagg Jr. was originally released as a more widely available alternative to George T. Stagg, another barrel-proof bourbon from Buffalo Trace that is released annually as part of the distillery’s Antique Collection. However, Stagg Jr. quickly gained popularity among bourbon enthusiasts, and is now just as difficult to find as its older counterpart.

In 2023, Buffalo Trace announced that they would be dropping the “Jr.” from the Stagg Jr. name, and simply referring to it as “Stagg”. This is likely due to the fact that Stagg Jr. is now considered to be a standalone product, and not simply a younger version of George T. Stagg.

History of Stagg Jr.

Batch Proof Year
23A 130.2 Spring 2023
22A 132.2 Early 2023
22B 130 Winter 2022
18 131 Sprig 2022
17 128.7 Winter 2021
16 130.9 Summer 2021
15 131.1 Winter 2020
14 130.2 Spring 2020
13 128.4 Fall 2019
12 132.3 Summer 2019
11 127.9 Winter 2018
10 126.4 Spring 2018
9 131.9 Fall 2017
8 125.9 (Lowest Proof) Spring 2017
7 130 Fall 2016
6 132.5 Spring 2016
5 129.7 Fall 2015
4 132.2 Spring 2015
3 132.7 Fall 2014
2 128.7 Spring 2014
1 134.4 (Highest Proof) Fall 2013

Bourbon Review: Stagg Jr. (Batch 17)
ABV: 64.35% (128.7 Proof)
Age: 7-9 Years
Mash Bill: 
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Frankfort, KY (USA)

The Nose: Warm cinnamon engulfs the nostrils with hints of caramel, oak and heavy rye spice. There isn’t a lot of depth and the aroma is straight forward and unchanging on subsequent pulls from the glass.

The Taste: At first sip there isn’t a lot going on as there is plenty of oak notes and subtle burn in the back of the throat. Sometimes this happens to me personally on a high proof initially. This is the case here as a secondary sip sees caramel, black cherry, cinnamon with brown sugar on the lingering finish.

The Pairing: I opted to pair this cigar with a Byron Petit Poema to celebrate leaving the cigar industry before embarking on a new career. When I won my bottle of Stagg Jr. it was right around the time I began the interview process. I told myself I wouldn’t crack the bottle. With a lie detector test, background, check, countless interviews of employers and fiends I was offer the job. This is my celebration.

Byron is a medium-full boded smoke with a nice amount of spice, molasses, graham cracker and marshmallows. I figured there would be enough strength in the cigar to stand up to the Stagg Jr and perhaps temper it some.

The cigar changes things up considerably on the bourbon with an aroma and taste of apples appearing on the Stagg Jr. that hadn’t existed before. Subsequent puffs and sips add more cherry to the bourbon as well. This might be one of the most perfect pairings I’ve experience as both complimented each other exponentially. As always our pairing doesn’t affect our final score but if it did it would be plus 10.

Conclusion: Stagg Jr. was always on my wish list but every time I saw a bottle it was ridiculously over priced. Luckily I won the bottle in a free lottery for the right to purchase at MSRP. At MSRP it is an all day, every day purchase even though it didn’t live up to the hype initially. It might not finish in my top 10 barrel proof bourbons, but it will finish amongst my top bourbons to pair with a cigar. While the review reflects one such pairing, every cigar I paired with a pour increased the enjoyment of the Stagg Jr. I wouldn’t recommend paying more than MSRP for it, or obsessing on a chase for it. But is a bottle worth having especially if you are a cigar smoker.

Score: 89
Price: $49.99 (750 ml in New Hampshire)

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