Stagg Jr. Review

Stagg Jr Review

Stagg Jr. is, exactly as its name implies, a younger version of the George T Stagg bourbon that’s released annually by Buffalo Trace. While big daddy GTS typically ranges from 15-17 years in age the Stagg Jr. is an 8 year old bourbon that’s made from a combination of 8-9 year old barrels. This whiskey is also released multiple times per year, in small batches, compared to the once a year releasing of the GTS.

When Stagg Jr. was first released in August of 2013 I remember all the buzz around it. Bourbon geeks snatched up bottles almost before they touch the shelf, secondary market flipping was instantly seeing a 3x markup on the $50 MSRP and less scrupulous stores were marking theirs up to be around the same. in fact, I know of one store here in Los Angeles who still has a bottle, marked at $150, sitting on their shelf over 2 years later. Initially it was difficult to get, but now I can easily buy a case at MSRP if I was so inclined. It’s always interesting to see how the market and whiskey fans react to a new releases… anyways, on to the Stagg Jr. review!

Stagg Jr. Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Buffalo Trace
Mashbill: Buffalo Trace Mashbill #1 (low rye ~ <10% rye)
Cask: New charred oak
Age: NAS (~8 years)
ABV: 66.05%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $50

Stagg Jr. Review

Dark amber

Wood, dark sweets, spice, vanilla, touch herbal and dark fruit. It’s a nice basic Buffalo Trace aroma, but there’s an astringent bite in it that needs a bit of water to tame.

Dark sweets, wood, cinnamon heavy spice, vanilla and a light bit of cocoa, fruit leather and sweet tobacco. Like nose it’s great, but it also falls prey to a sharp bit of astringent acetone and needed a fair dose of water to even it out. Still not awful at full CS though.

Long and oaky with notes of cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruit.

Decent balance despite acetone, full body and a thick heavy feel; runs a bit hot.

Stagg Jr. is a big bold barrel proof bourbon that, at MSRP, is a relatively decent deal in today’s bourbon buying climate. The nose on it is woody and sweet with all the lovely Buffalo Trace spice and dark fruits that make it an aromatically aggressive bourbon. That same aggressive character rolls over to the palate and rolls on through the finish and it’s just an all around good bourbon. The only partial downfall in this batch of Stagg Jr. is the previously mentioned wood.

The wood in this batch of Stagg Jr. comes across nice and rich, but also a bit astringent. There is a bite to the nose, palate and finish that takes a decent amount of water to cut through and even it out. I’ve had other batches of Stagg Jr. that aren’t quite as astringent and “bitey” as this one os it does change batch to batch as you’d expect. Regardless of the sensory stinging acetone-like quality it’s still a good whiskey and a good deal. Definitely recommend it if you find it at a reasonable price.

SCORE: 89/100

  • Nose - 88
  • Palate - 89
  • Finish - 90
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 89


Stagg Jr. is a big thick bourbon with a lot going on. This particular batch is a bit astringent, but even with those sharp notes cutting through the senses it’s still a good whiskey and well worth its price.

Stagg Jr Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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20 Responses to Stagg Jr. Review

  1. I just had my third taste of this. Glencairn glass with one small piece of ice. I like it very much, high octane, but still sweet and spicy. Amazing that such a high proof bourbon still allows for tasting the complexities.

    I’m now onto OGD 114, which is also nice but more of a forward afterburn on the tongue. I wanted to try another high proof bourbon to compare and contrast.

    Stagg Jr. Is definetly more appealing to my palate, but both are keepers.

    Amazing how every bourbon hits a different area of the mouth.


  2. I’ve got the 129.7 proof version. Fall 2015? It’s got some really great sweet and spicy interplay with a middle of the tongue happy thing that I can’t quite express. Cheers!

  3. Ive got batch 5 myself and this stuff is high octane. The flavors are delicious. I just have to get past the fact that it thermogenically heats my tongue to the point of pain. Haha little water helps a lot!

  4. 66.25% ABV NAS

    The nose is ethanol and… wood and just a hint of vanilla. The front of the mouth – tongue – is hit with the ethanol but also a sweetness and a momentary flavor akin to the transporter liquid used to carry Novocaine to the jaw at the dentist’s. Fleeting flavor, though. Might be what Josh calls “acetone”, which to me would be a scent since I’ve never tasted acetone deliberately.

    The nose comes on strong with vanilla as the whiskey airs in the snifter. It is a pleasant nose and I would recommend a smallish snifter rather than a GC glass which narrows the scent “pipe”.

    The first mouthful, swirled about and then swirled is quite tasty and a hint of chocolate comes to mind., Then, the bite hits, and it all goes pepper and pepper-sting. 132.5 proof will do that, eh?

    The second mouthful is a sweet delight. I cannot describe the finish, as it is hot but not objectionable.

    This is what one wishes BT more closely resembled. And, I hesitate this early to dilute as it is quite satisfactory straight. After the shoulder is reached, then water will be tried, and I expect the nose will open up, and the flavors also.

    I like this stuff, as is. However, I like OGD 114 – really like it – and it also is delicious straight. The difference I think partly is the mashbill with the OGD loaded up with rye. The Stagg, JR. is mashbill #1, apparently, and the rye spice won’t float therein.

    I think this is very good bourbon and I have every expectation that I will enjoy working through this bottle. I look forward to more.

    I also appreciate the presence of a genuine whiskey bottle, a genuine cork with a functional top, no wax and no stupid wooden box.

    And now, the vanilla is pouring over the top far edge of the snifter wonderfully and the latest sip also is better than the first.

    I’m not much on point-rating, but would have this over 90, I think. And, I have no objection to the list price, since this is obviously a genuinely premium whiskey. It is pleasant to actually get what was hoped for when purchased.

    Other than the first hint of a transport agent for Novocaine, I get no hint of furniture polish-acetone.

  5. Finally cracked open my bottle of this a couple nights ago. Mine clocks in at a whopping 136.6 proof. I got heavy butterscotch on the nose with vanilla and fresh cut hay coming forward after a splash. Cinnamon apple on the palate with definite oak astringency. A splash of water brought a dark chocolate note into the mix. Easy smooth finish with cinnamon and astringency lingering. While I did enjoy it, I was expecting a little more complexity and may try different levels of dilution to try and bring some out. I was a little put off by the astringency, but feel that maybe giving it some more time in the glass and the right amount of dilution will help that. This is going to the back of the cabinet for special occasions. OGD 114 will remain my go to overproof bourbon. $20 cheaper and readily available.

    • Amen to that. OGD 114 is hard to beat for a daily over-proof whiskey. Hopefully some of your astringency blows off and I’ve found water often helps with that except when it’s over-proofed and over-oaked. That’s a combination that water doesn’t help because they just tried to hide the oak behind the alcohol and hoped no one would notice. That’s happened to me a couple of times.

  6. In your introduction to Stagg Jr. you wrote:

    “Initially it was difficult to get, but now I can easily buy a case at MSRP if I was so inclined.”

    That really surprised me, the Stagg Jr. availability you described. Is that still the case for you? I’ve only come across a lone bottle of Jr. once.

    Excellent review.

  7. In upstate New York I can find Stagg JR very easily for around 45$ to 50$. On December 23rd I got very lucky and found George T. Stagg and William Larue Weller for 89$ each at one of my local spots. Every where else around here that has GTS has it marked at 450$ to 799$.

  8. Had a glass of Stagg Jr. last night. The bottle has been open a few months and is about half full. All traces of the initial astringency seem to be gone. All that was left was a double helping of the Buffalo Trace flavor profile that I love so much. Cheers-Cheers!

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