Stagg Jr. Battle (Batch 15 vs. Batch 12)
Tracking down allocated products can be a tough nut to crack, and for some folks it can come down to deciding which bottle is worth the effort of hunting down. In an effort to make that choice somewhat easier I’m comparing the famed Stagg Jr. Batch 12 to the latest Batch 15 that has landed in December of 2020. Comparing products in the same family is really fun for me and hopefully the comparison here will help others in their whiskey travels. Let’s go!
So in the past I’ve done a feature called Whiskey King of the Hill where one bottle reigns as champ until dethroned by a new contender. It was cumbersome, if I’m honest. Moving forward I’ll continue doing side-by-side battles like the previous Elijah Craig “B Battle”.
So for this battle I’ll be comparing a release that has been held in extremely high regard with a brand new release in the same family. One thing worth nothing, here, is that I’ve reviewed both of these and scored them both a B+. Let’s take a quick look now at the Buffalo Trace Distillery website to see what they say about the younger George T. Stagg product:
George T. Stagg built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century, during a time known as the Gilded Age of Bourbon. Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of the man himself.
Buffalo Trace Distillery
So the difference in proof is minor between these two with Batch 12 clocking in at 132.2 and Batch 15 tipping the scales at 131.1. This is a non age-stated and unfiltered Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that is understood to be around ten years old.
Stagg Jr. Batch 15 vs Batch 12
Nose – This jumps out with some ethanol and oak. This comes across drier and spicier on the nose. There’s an inviting buttery something in here that keeps changing between caramel and toffee. Something like a candy bar…and it’s basically screaming “drink me!”.
Taste – Punchy and strong but with layers of dark and sweet goodness. Vanilla and homemade caramel. Buttery toffee and spice are all over this sip and as it moves across the palate it’s coating everything nicely. The oak structure is noticeable and firm, and brings a touch of that dusty warehouse with it. A bit of dark chocolate really brings this around to more of a candy flavor.
Finish – This qualifies as being a long finish for me–but only just making it across the line to earn the title. Again I’m reminded of a liquid candy bar here with the background of vanilla and buttery toffee that mixes with caramel and chocolate. The oak and spice drive this one home.
Nose – Sweet and strong. There are layers of heavy vanilla, dark cherry, some spice and oak. A touch of apple pie.
Taste – Nice dark fruit and a layer of sweetness. I forgot how fruity and delicious this was. I’m impressed with how well balanced this is with the layers of vanilla and cherries that mix in with oak and a touch of spice.
Finish – A long finish to be sure. This one rolls on like a revolving door of fruit, a light sweetness that even leans toward maple, oak, and some spice. A really nice sip from start to finish.
Stagg Jr. Battle Winner: Batch 12
I suppose this one won’t be wildly surprising; however, I’d urge anyone who likes a darker (or less fruit-forward) pour to dig this one up. It’s really nice and while between the two batches I am choosing Batch 12 as my winner for this tasting, I could totally see this going differently on another evening. The rich and complex flavors of each batch really showcase this brand extension and it’s constant evolution. If you’ve somehow been ignoring Stagg Jr. because you disliked the earlier batches…thank you, that’ll leave a bit more of these batches on the shelf for the rest of us!
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!