Tag Archives: George T Stagg

George T Stagg (2013)

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2013 Release
64.1% ABV
$70 to $90
Website
Stagg
What the Distillery Says:
This extremely hearty whiskey ages in new charred oak barrels for no less than 15 years. Straight out of the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, the taste is powerful, flavorful and intense. Open it up with a few drops of water, sit back and ponder the wonders of the universe.

TASTING NOTES:
Lush toffee sweetness and dark chocolate with hints of vanilla, fudge, nougat and molasses. Underlying notes of dates, tobacco, dark berries, spearmint and a hint of coffee round out the palate.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Oiled riding leather, roasted dates wrapped in smoked bacon and Boston Cream Pie.
Palate: Molasses syrup, heavy vanilla, 5th Avenue candy bars, and finished with a spicy rye/mint kick at the end.
Finish: Old leather bound books, a well tended humidor, and well balanced oak.
Comments: This is one of those really dangerous bottles of Stagg. It’s a good bit lower in proof from some of the previous releases and that makes it wicked easy to drink. Take it slow, add a little water or at least a water back, and be careful with this sleeping beast. This batch was aged for 15 years and 11 months. No details in this recent release regarding batch size or the warehouse location of the selected barrels.
Rating: Must Buy

George T Stagg (2009)

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2009 Release
70.7% ABV
$65
Website
Stagg
What the Distillery Says:
This extremely hearty whiskey ages in new charred oak barrels for no less than 15 years. Straight out of the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, the taste is powerful, flavorful and intense. Open it up with a few drops of water, sit back and ponder the wonders of the universe.

TASTING NOTES:
Lush toffee sweetness and dark chocolate with hints of vanilla, fudge, nougat and molasses. Underlying notes of dates, tobacco, dark berries, spearmint and a hint of coffee round out the palate.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Molasses, toffee, dried unrolled tobacco, oiled leather, with a mint back note.
Palate: Rich, dripping toffee and vanilla, then a large right hook to the palate with cinnamon red hots, black pepper, and oak.
Finish: Slightly dry, with cinnamon, tobacco, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, and oak on mid length finish.
Comments: This is one of those bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle that has become legendary in it’s limited availability as much as it’s tremendous flavor. As Van Winkle is to wheated bourbons, Stagg is to ryed bourbons. And the flavor is tremendous. This is a dark monstrous bourbon. Alcohol content aside, if you can put 70% ABV aside, the flavor is layered, aggressive, and encompassing. You don’t drink this. It let’s you consume it. A quick word about that proof too. This is a monster in terms of alcohol. Water is required either in liquid or solid forms. Personally, I get it down to about 50% ABV for regular consumption but to each their own. If you can get your hands on a bottle I would grab it and not worry so much about “which” George T Stagg you got. You’ll also notice that this is not a single barrel bourbon. It’s done annually in small batches. As such, the flavor profile is very similar year to year. This batch was 109 barrels aged for 16 years and 7 months. For those interested in the bourbon geek minutiae, it was distilled to 135 Proof, barreled at 125 Proof in barrels with #4 55 second char and the barrels were selected from floors 1 and 3 of Warehouse K.
Rating: Must Buy

Stocking the Whiskey Bar

The holidays are a time to get together with friends and family. Whether you are celebrating the joyous occasion with those close to you or enduring the extended family for the obligatory once a year visit, you probably should have some whiskey on hand. Like butter and bacon, whiskey tends to make everything better. :) Even when it’s not holiday time, if you’re a fan of the water of life you might want to have a well chosen selection at home for personal perusal or entertaining. If you’re a one brand one bottle kind of person then that’s fine. I’m not judging you but if you and/or your guests only drink one thing all the time with no exception then this article probably won’t interest you.

I’m assuming that you probably already have a bottle or two if you’re reading a whiskey blog so let’s move beyond the “if I only have one/two bottle(s)” question and talk about stocking a home whiskey bar for yourself and guests. Before we start I want to clarify that we’re talking about a whiskey bar, not a whiskey collection. A collection, whether by design or accident is a different beast entirely. Oh, and if you think you can’t collect by accident let me tell you from personal experience that it can happen very easily. I’m in the process of rectifying that transgression in my own supply so let me know if you want to stop by and “help” with that. 😉

“How many bottles should I plan on getting for a base stock in my home whiskey bar?”

It depends. If you’re just looking for bourbon or scotch then probably three well chosen bottles will get you started. If you want a nice cross section of multiple styles then I would say five to eight. It really is up to you. However, I will caution you that once you get north of 10 bottles and start heading towards 20 you starting getting into collection territory. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a slippery slope. 😉

“How much should I plan to spend?”

You can spend as much or as little as you want. I’ll try to give you a few examples at various prices for each category. That way you can decide how much you want to spend based on personal preference and financial situation. Please note that the prices listed are for a standard U.S. 750ml bottle.

“Where do I begin?”

With scotch and bourbon a good framework would be to get a mixer, a classic, and a gem. Now when I say “mixer” I’m really referring to a table whiskey. You should use the same rule of thumb for mixed drinks and cocktails as you do for cooking with wine. That means that even your table whiskey should be something you wouldn’t mind drinking by itself. There are plenty of inexpensive and tasty whiskeys out there so you shouldn’t have to buy rot gut just to use as a mixer. Here are some examples.

Scotch – Johnnie Walker Black, Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, and Glenlivet 12 Year Old can all be had for around $30.

Bourbon – Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond ($20), Buffalo Trace ($20), and Elijah Craig 12 Year Old ($22)

Your “classic” whiskey should be something that typifies the category. That $1,000 bottle of Macallan 30 Year Old may taste like heaven but when I say classic I’m thinking of a reasonably priced dram that is pleasant and displays many of the standard characteristics of scotch or bourbon. Again, here are a few examples.

Scotch – Highland Park 12 Year Old ($40), Compass Box Great King Street Blend ($40), and Cragganmore 12 Year Old ($50)

Bourbon – Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old ($40), Old Forester Birthday Bourbon ($40), and Blanton’s ($50)

Now let’s talk about that gem. Up until now you’ve probably dropped between $100 to $150 on four bottles of whiskey (2 bourbon, 2 scotch). The gem category is where you can be as reserved or crazy as you want. The notion behind these bottles is to have something exceptional. Think of it as a special whiskey or two. You can lay these on your snobby or aficionado friends to get the approving nod or you can use them to show somehow something really good tastes. Alternatively, you can think of these bottles as a little more aggressive or obscure in taste. If Glenfiddich is your middle of the road then maybe one of these bottles can be a super peaty Ardbeg. You can drop $50 on one of these or $500. It’s up to you. Below are a few suggestions but let your interests guide your decisions.

Scotch – Lagavuling 16 Year Old ($80), Macallan 18 Year Old ($130), Dewar’s Signature ($180)

Bourbon – Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit ($55), George T. Stagg ($75), Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old ($120)

Now you may have noticed that I’ve listed both blends and single malts for scotch under each category. This is intentional. Both are very tasty and should be considered equally. I really think that you should consider getting at least one blend and at least one single malt. One is not inferior to the other regardless of what you hear from scotch snobs.

Others
Scotch and bourbon are great but there’s a wider and ever expanding world of whiskey out there waiting to be sampled. Personally, I would recommend a good rye that you can drink and mix as a staple. Rittenhouse Bottled-In-Bond ($20) or Sazerac Rye ($27) are great examples. If you’ve only ever used bourbon in your cocktails then get ready for a treat. A good rye cocktail is hard to beat.

I also think you should have a bottle of something a little different. It will allow you and your guests to expand your whiskey horizons and give you something interesting to compare and contrast. A nice bottle of Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese Whisky ($40), Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Pot Still Whiskey ($50), or Amrut Fusion Indian Whisky ($60) would all be nice additions.

“What about other spirits to have on hand?”

Believe it or not, I don’t only drink whiskey. I often enjoy other fine brown spirits. Around the holidays I especially enjoy a nice brandy after a big meal. Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac ($35), Germain-Robin Shareholder’s Reserve ($75), or Kelt XO Cognac ($150) are all nice examples.

If a nice aged rum is more your speed then maybe a bottle of Cruzan Single Barrel ($28), Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum ($35), or Bacardi Reserva Limitada Rum Anejo ($100) would give you something nice to sip with guests.

“Is there anything else I need?”

It’s probably a good idea to have a few other basic ingredients on hand for cocktails. Below is a suggested list but you can add or subtract as you see fit. Remember, this list is focused on whiskey cocktails. If you’re doing a White Russian or a Sex on the Beach then that’s something entirely different.

  • Simple Syrup (make your own)
  • Sodas (Coca-cola, diet cola, ginger ale, club soda, tonic water, etc.)
  • Bitters (Angostura, Peychaud, etc.)
  • Fruit – Juice and whole fruit (Lemons, oranges, maraschino cherries, etc.)
  • Vermouth – Sweet and Dry
  • Liqueurs

I would recommend that you actually look at the kind of cocktails you plan to make and back into a list of additional ingredients instead of blinding buying stuff that the guy on the internet said you had to have. Having a huge selection of cocktail accoutrement looks cool but if you never use it then it’s a waste.

“Wait a minute. What about vodka and tequila?”

Like your mom said about little Scotty Powell down the street…”You don’t need friends like that.” In all seriousness, we were talking about stocking a nice selection of whiskeys. I could go on and on with my belligerent opinions of the vodka and tequila culture that’s exploded in the last 15 to 20 years but that’s not the point of this article. Look, if you need to have vodka and tequila, and a good host probably should, then you don’t need to fret over the bottles as much as you might think. Probably about 99% of vodka and tequila consumption in the U.S. occurs with some type of mixer. As long as you’re not buying the stuff off the bottom shelf in the plastic jugs you’ll probably be okay with the majority of brands when making a vodka tonic, vodka and cranberry, or margarita. Personally, I buy Kirkland Signature brand vodka and anejo tequila at Costco. Both are very good quality and ridiculously well priced. If you’re worried that your snobby friends will scoff because you have Costco brand or Stolichnaya vodka instead of Grey Goose or Ciroc then pick up a nice decanter to keep it in. It will class up your bar a little and then if they ask what it is you can tell them whatever the hell you want.;)

If you’re in a quandary the next time you go to the liquor store to stock up then I hope this helps. As always, these are merely my opinions on the subject. Let your taste and wallet be your guide. If you have any questions or need additional suggestions please send me an email. Enjoy the holidays and share some good whiskey with good company.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

New U.S. Releases – September 2011

I’m a little late again this month but I have good reason. I reinjured my right ankle and as a result I’ve been medicated and hobbling around. It’s an old injury that actually goes all the way back to fourth grade. My MRI results are pending and it hurts. It is what it is. This is just an excuse on my part. There’s really no good reason why I couldn’t have posted this on time so here goes.

Bruichladdich 10 Year Old
Timeframe: TBD
ABV: 46%
Price: TBD
Bruichladdich is back. Well, they’ve been back. Now they are back with their own 10 Year Old from entirely new production stock.

2011 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection
Timeframe: October 2011
ABV: Varied
Price: $70
The whole gang is back again. All five releases are coming back this year. George T. Stagg, Sazerac 18, Eagle Rare 17, William Larue Weller, and Thomas Handy will be available in October.

Bunnahabhain Vintage
Timeframe: 2012
ABV: 43%
Price: TBD
Starting next year Bunnahabhain will be replacing their 18 Year old with a vintage release. For fans of the 18 Year Old you better pick it up while you can!

Elijah Craig 20 Year Old
Timeframe: Now
ABV: 45%
Price: $275
The rub on this one, aside from the price (EC 18 is about $60), is that it’s only available at the Bourbon Heritage Center in Kentucky.

Glen Garioch 1994
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: TBD
Price: $109.99
This vintage release is supposed to showcase a slightly smokier side of Glen Garioch.

Glenrothes 1995
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: TBD
Price: $TBD
This is the newest edition to Glenrothes ongoing vintage releases.

Glenrothes Editors Cask
Timeframe: Winter 2011
ABV: 55.8%
Price: $250
This new limited edition will see only 130 bottlings coming to the U.S. later this year. This one comes from a Spanish hogshead and is cask number 9973.

High West OMG Rye
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: 49.3%
Price: TBD
This is a new un-aged rye from High West. It’s 100% rye, 20% malted. High West has caused some controversy in the past but I like their stuff and look forward to giving this a try.

Johnnie Walker Double Black
Timeframe: October 2011
ABV: 40%
Price: No price yet but it’s expected to retail for 15% to 20% above standard JW Black.
Think of this a more heavily peated version of JW Black. Interested? I am. This one was available in travel retail only for a while. I’m glad it’s making to release.

Macallan 60 Year Old Lalique
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: TBD
Price: $20,000
This is the fourth release in the Macallan Lalique series. Realistically for most of the us a $20,000 bottle of scotch is a pipe dream. However, it comes in a really pretty bottle. 😉

The Mackinlay
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: 47.3%
Price: $162
This is the recreation Whyte and Mackay did of the whiskey found in the Antarctic that was all over the news a while back. It should be interesting. I’m supposed to have a review sample on its way. I’ll keep you posted.

Oban 18 Year Old
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: 43%
Price: TBD
I like Oban but I feel that it tends to be overshadowed by its stable mates. Well, Diageo seems to be giving it a little more attention with the line expansion of adding the 18 Year Old as a permanent addition.

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength
Timeframe: 2012
ABV: TBD
Price: TBD
Okay Redbreast fans, the hits just keep on coming. First we got a 15 year release and now we’ll see the original 12 year old coming out in a cask strength version. I’ll definitely be picking some up.

Red Stag Honey & Red Stag Spiced
Timeframe: Early 2012
ABV: 40%
Price: $15
Apparently Red Stag was so popular that Jim Beam decided we need more. Two new flavors are coming to the market next year.

R&R Reserve Canadian Whiskey
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: 40%
Price: $14.99
R&R stands for rich and rare. This new value release comes to us from Sazerac. Building on the previously release Royal Canadian and Caribou Crossing Sazerac continues to expand their Canadian offerings.

Temptation Bourbon
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: 41%
Price: $22
This new bottling comes from Dynamic Beverages. They are the same folks bringing you Redemption Bourbon and Rye. This is another rebottling of bourbon produced by LDI. This one is from their mashed bill that uses a higher percentage of corn. It’s bottled at about two years old.

Woodford Master Cask Rye
Timeframe: Fall 2011
ABV: TBD
Price: $45 per 375ml bottle
There are actually two releases in this year’s Woodford release. Both are 100% rye triple pot distiller whiskeys. This is a first from Woodford. One is aged in new oak barrels and the other is aged in used oak barrels. This should be pretty interesting.

Glenfarclas Family Casks
Timeframe: TBD
ABV: TBD
Price: TBD
Not much news here. The Glenfarclas Family Casks have been available abroad for some time. They are finally going to make it stateside late this year or early next year. No word yet on which bottlings or prices.

That is all for September.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Bunker Boys

As you might guess, I frequent a lot of discussions about whiskey both online and in person. One thing that always struck me as old is people who “bunker” large numbers of the same bottle. What is bunkering you ask? It’s when you buy more than one bottle of a given whiskey and store it instead of drinking it. People do this for many reasons.

I can understand that if you REALLY like this year’s 2000 vintage Evan Williams single barrel that you might buy another bottle because the whiskey is different every year. What I don’t get are people who go into their local store as soon as the truck delivers the year’s Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and buying every bottle they can carry. Again, people do this for many reasons. However, I find none of them acceptable. Let’s look at them in turn:

1. “I bought all six bottles of George T. Stagg that were allocated to my local store because I love it and it’s my favorite.”

Fine, I get that you like it…alot. But what about all the other great whiskeys out there that you may be missing out on while you drink nothing but Stagg for the next year?

2. “I bought all six bottles of George T. Stagg that were allocated to my local store because they are collectible and will increase in value.”

I know some whiskey collectors. Personally, I’m not a fan of the practice because whiskey is intended to DRINK. It’s not intended to store away from the light of day hoping to cash in five to ten years down the road.

3. “I bought all six bottles of George T. Stagg that were allocated to my local store because I plan to trade them for other super spiffy whiskeys.”

Let’s say that in a perfect world such activities would be completely legal where you live (for the sake of argument) then why not save your cash and seek out those other bottles on your own? You could even put the money into some type of income earning vehicle and be better off when you got ready to make the purchase you really wanted.

4. “I bought all the bottles of the old bottling of Eagle Rare or Weller I could find because it isn’t made anymore.”

See my responses to 1, 2, and 3.

I’m sure there are a whole host of other reasons people bunker whiskey that I haven’t mentioned. However, what really steams my jeans about the whole process is that you’re keeping every bottle you can and you’re preventing others from discovering these great whiskeys. And you’re usually proud of it.

We here at Whisk(e)y Apostle are all about proselytizing the way of the malt. It says so at the top of the page. It’s kind of hard to tell somebody about a great whiskey they should try when you’ve bought all the damn bottles in the tri-county area. I think it’s selfish and kind of a dick move to be honest. Maybe I’m too handholdly-kumbaya about the whole thing. Yes, it’s a free market and you can buy whatever you want in whatever quantities you want but I just don’t think it’s right when it comes to whiskey. You don’t have to change your dastardly ways all at once. Go slow. Maybe this fall just buy five of those six bottles of Stagg and leave one for somebody else. You may not feel any different but the next guy who actually gets to try Stagg this year might have a really good week. Think about it.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard