George T. Stagg, 2011 Release

George T. Stagg, BTAC 2011As all bourbon comes from virgin oak it seems appropriate to post a review of a bourbon on Christmas. Also, I’m pretty sure George T. Stagg was one of the Magi.

This is the Stagg from the 2011 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection which remains the only time I’ve got my hands on the whole set, and that without too much pain involved. I split the set with my friends Jessica and Nate. They got half and kept the bottles, and I got my half in mason jars. I remember Sku getting a big kick in LA this past summer on hearing that I had the BTAC in mason jars. Anyway, this has been getting air in the jar for more than two years now and has probably softened quite a bit as a result. So please bear that in mind as you read my notes.

George T. Stagg, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, 2011 (71.3%; from a split bottle)

Nose: Much softer than the 2010 with more obvious rye and less clove. After a bit caramel and toffee intensify, and there’s also some fudge and increasing leatheriness and a touch of orange peel. More toffee and less rye with water and more fruit too: marmalade and some dried apricot.

Palate: Much softer on the palate too and entirely drinkable. More clove here and more orange peel and also much more wood. And I’m picking up a fair bit of rye here too or maybe it’s something rooty/herbal. Quite sweet (brown sugar with a touch of molasses). As on the nose, water dials back the rye and brings out the darker flavours and fruit.

Finish: Long. Sweet and spicy (cloves, cinnamon) and pleasantly woody. water lengthens the finish, lightens the wood and keeps the citrus going longer.

Comments: I think the Stagg is made from one of Buffalo Trace’s low-rye mash bills. I don’t recall if I’ve gotten quite so much rye from this before and I haven’t checked to see if anyone else reports it–it’s possible I suppose that those notes have come out on top as others have receded as this has sat in the jar for two years plus (has anyone else known this to happen with low-rye bourbons?). I liked it more when it was first opened and have it at a higher score in my spreadsheet but I am reviewing it now. Still, this is still very good and on par I’d say with the more fiery 2010.

I think I read that this year’s Stagg is “only” in the low-mid 60s abv-wise. Assuming they’ve gone for a similar profile I wonder if it might be similar at all to this higher octane one that’s mellowed with time.

Rating: 89 points.

One thought on “George T. Stagg, 2011 Release

  1. I was extremely lucky to notice a lone bottle of the 2012 edition sitting in a locked display case in a California store back in February. Don’t know how that one got separated from the herd but I ended up taking it home since I’d never had a GTS before (price was $80). I haven’t opened the bottle yet but I’ve heard that the 2012 edition wasn’t quite as good as previous editions but still pretty good when compared to other bourbons.

    By the way, the 2013 bottling is lower proof because Buffalo Trace decided to vat barrels from lower levels of the warehouse into George T Stagg (the average age of 15+ years is still consistent). The previous high proofs were due to the vatting of barrels from the highest levels of the warehouses where the high humidity and temperatures caused more water to evaporate instead of alcohol. I’m not sure whether using lower barrels will change the flavor profile but it’s pretty obvious that that the proof has gone down.


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