Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gulliver's Debut: George T. Stagg 2012 Tasting Notes

Today in his Capitol Bourbon Committee Blog debut, Gulliver reviews a 2012 bottling of George T. Stagg:

George T. Stagg--A lion of a bourbon.

This is the sort of whiskey that makes me wish I had a more expansive vocabulary. I can count on one hand the others (Jefferson 18, Pappy 15, William Larue Weller, Elijah Craig 18) with similarly complex taste and nose: bourbons that seem to change each time you take a sip.  The Stagg has what I can only describe as a "rounded" scent: the very opposite of acidic or astringent, no alcohol-burn (once you've let it rest a minute), but rather something like polished leather or even a nice, robust cookie dough.  Other times (especially with ice), I get hints of hard candy: not sweet, but raw sugar. 

The taste is more leather, with an alcohol punch that promises happier fourth and fifth sips ahead. Mouth feel is silky and full, which is all the more enjoyable for the fact that you'll want to hold it there for a moment before the finish knocks you on your ass. Oaky without being "woody," which is pejorative in my lexicon. The ice-melt of this whiskey should sell for more than the average bottle. (I know, purists, I know: one of these days I'll grow a pair and drink it straight. Or faster. You enjoy yours, I'll enjoy mine.) I could stay happy for the rest of the night just sniffing the glass this was poured in.
I'm not much for ratings unless I'm tasting things side-by-side, but I'll give this a 90. The bourbons I've named above are the only others that compare, so maybe it should be higher, but I'm gonna tell you a dirty little secret: whiskeys between 95 and 105 proof, stuff I don't have to cut on my own, are always going to come in higher than their barrel-proof alternatives. (I know, the purists are pissed again.)
This is a fantastic bourbon.  If you're going to cut it (which is something I recommend), you should go with water instead of ice to get a consistent flavor throughout the pour.  A slow-melting ice-cube means it'll kick your ass at the beginning and waste your money at the end.  But by all means, drink this whiskey if you can get your hands on it.
Here's some other reviews of GTS:

Bourbon Basement

Sour Mash Manifesto (2010 Bottle)

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