Bourbon - George T. Stagg 2005
Buffalo Trace Distillery
George T. Stagg 2005 Release Lot B
Buffalo Trace Distillery - (Frankfort , Kentucky )
Grain - Corn (at least 51%) Rye, Barley
PROOF: 131.8 (65.40%)
AGE: 16 Years 8 Months Old
TYPE: Small Batch
PRICE: $ 49.00 - 750 ML
Notes: This is the latest release of George T. Stagg. This is the Lot B, 131.8 proof that is the general release available in different areas of the world (the 130.9 proof Lot A is a Kentucky only release) the release is, however, far smaller than the demand so if you don't get a bottle soon, it will be hunted to extinction by everyone else in short order.
This whiskey is produced at the scenic Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort (close to Woodford Reserve Distillery if you are touring) home of numerous other whiskies such as Eagle Rare 10 year-old, Eagle Rare 17 year-old, Blanton's, Rock Hill Farms, Hancock Reserve, and Elmer T.Lee. (See our Adventure Section for a tour of the distillery).
This is not a single barrel (see above) but a small batch from the mixing of a very small group of barrels. One of the most aged bourbons on the market, but unlike some of the older ones, this was bottled at its peak - not aged for the sake of bragging rights past its prime.
This is an extremely rare whiskey but not priced the same way as most whiskies of this quality and rarity - it is ridiculously cheap for what you are getting. Not that I want to encourage them to raise the price or anything, mind you.
Appearance: Wonderful copper red in the bottle, similar to the color of
Russian gold in the glass.The color of this whiskey promises that you are in for a treat. Nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whiskey on swirling (absolutely even, no legs to speak of).
First Impression: Corn and rye, a seeming signature from this distillery,
which end up smelling like leather, toffee, spices, and mint. You can smell the oaks influence on the whiskey in the peppery scent towards the end. Lots of dark fruit smells at the end as well.
Its smell reminds me of the deeper cognac cellars in France. Mint/vanilla scent comes out more after a while, along with a slight molasses scent. It reminds me of Dutch Kaneel in its spiciness.
Taste: Wonderfully heavy mouth feel, it is a sweet fire at full strength.
However, the fact that you can drink it at that proof and actually like it speaks volumes as to how good it is. There is a definite sweetness to the corn with a wonderful rye sourness to it, the sort of paradoxical effect you get with strawberries and balsamic vinegar (although it taste nothing like that) a sweet smell but then very dry - but not at all astringent like some whiskies.
It has the ethereal quality of a fine cognac at the end where it vaporizes at the back of the throat with a pleasing, lingering tease. Very long, lingering finish. Addition of some water (bottled or filtered, no chlorine!) knocks down the alcohol and opens up the bouquet nicely. The only negative comment I can make is it is a trifle rough in the finish. A little too much of an edge to give it a top score but that is a minor point.
Drinks: Given how magnificent this whisky is it seems sinful to mix it in a
drink. Such a great whiskey should only be sipped with a little water (after trying it straight) if you must but we are not above the occasional sin the same way the sea is not above the clouds so...
The Manhattan almost makes me want to sing Schillers "Ode to Joy," (Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 4th movement) - to the relief of all the local
tomcats I chose not to! The Old Fashioned shows a depth of character and complexity heretofore unimaginable. Next time I break my leg skydiving or BASE jumping I want this instead of morphine or better yet as a chaser.
Final Thoughts: Another achievement in bourbon making. This year's release is subtlety different than last year's, but still wonderful.
Bottle: TThe long, thin, clear glass, and small labels show off the color of the
whiskey to good effect. The clear glass bottom lends a nice visual
effect and give the bottle a decanter type feel and weight. A spare
design that does not distract from the centerpiece, the bourbon.
Fast loading with a slightly annoying intro (no need for it). This however is
followed by a display of all the bourbons they make (over 20, not counting
overseas variations). Extensive information and good pictures of each one, with reviews and ratings by different people and organizations.