Saturday, June 15, 2019

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2017)

- $90.00 MSRP
- 129.2 proof
- 15 years, 3 months
- Kentucky

The one problem with the theme of this blog--waiting until I finish a bottle before posting a review--is that when it comes to "special" bottles, by the time I finish them off, they're a bit outdated. Here it is now June, only a few months away from the 2019 BTAC releases, and I'm just now getting around to reviewing the 2017 George T. Stagg.

And, quite frankly, what can I say about this that hasn't already been said at this point? Because reviews are completely subjective, and therefore stupid, I'm just going to front the fact that Stagg has always been right in my wheelhouse.  It's my measuring stick for great bourbons. Don't get me wrong, I've had others that I've enjoyed more (maybe two), but they're always measured against Stagg.  Something about it just hits me right, and the 2017 release was certainly no exception.

The nose is full of vanilla and cinnamon, with the cinnamon leaning more towards a cloves kind of scent. I certainly got a decent amount of alcohol, which is to be expected at this proof, but nothing offensive by any stretch. There was a light oak on the nose, along with a rich toffee note to offset that slightest bitter note. Towards the end of the bottle I was also getting some anise notes. The nose was pretty much everything you'd expect from a high quality, 15 year old, barrel strength bourbon.

When I took my first sip, the first thing I noticed was the rich, coating, oily mouthfeel.  I hate using the word "mouthfeel," but the point is that this is a nice, creamy and oily bourbon that just coated my mouth and throat with flavor right up front.

The most noticeable of these flavors were the vanilla and wood flavors. I did not get any bitter tannins, though, as I had somewhat expected, even just a little. Rather, it was a nice, rich vanilla bean flavor that was absolutely delicious.

There was also a burnt sugar note that made for a sweet bourbon but kept it from coming close to being too sweet (did I mention this is in my wheelhouse?).  It seemed to balance that sweetness very well, perhaps due to the age, and also perhaps due to the nice cinnamon note that seemed to linger at the back of my throat forever, begging me to take another sip.

In addition to these traditional vanilla, caramel and cinnamon notes, however, I got hints of dark cherry (natural dark cherry, not that fake flavor that I sometimes get in whiskeys). I also got a coffee note which was pleasant and unexpected. I can't recall ever having such a tasting note in the past.

To be clear, however, this was a vanilla, caramel, cinnamon bomb. I know that phrase is used often, and usually it's used to demonstrate the dominance of one particular flavor (i.e. a "vanilla bomb").  Here, however, all of these flavors are bold, independent and absolutely delicious, culminating in one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth.

Aside from the fact that I have a particular sentimental attachment to this bourbon for reasons that I don't need to get into here, this is a bourbon that I will forever chase, buy and drink at every opportunity.

Grade: A+

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