Nose: Sitting with this bourbon for the first time you're instantly hit with a sense that this is a sophisticated bourbon. A smell of aged wood, raisin, caramel and a hint of corn dance across your nose, transporting you right to the middle of an aging warehouse on a warm spring day in Kentucky. While the alcohol wants to overpower the senses, overall the balance of the wood smell evens this bourbon out nicely. Let this one sit for a few minutes, and the smell just keeps getting more and more delicious.
Palate: Initially a sweet taste of caramel hits your tongue that instantly is replaced with a taste of all-spice and leather. The palate hits quick and to the point.
Finish: It's a nice long finish that stays with you for a while. Due to the high proof you might be inclined to say it’s a sharp harsh finish, when in reality that’s just the alcohol dissipating from your mouth. As it mellows, you get hints of candy corn and rubber, finishing on a note of wet wood and tobacco. It's definitely a strange combination, however it just works in this case.
Uniqueness: Being part of the Buffalo Tarce Antique Collection yearly release gives this bourbon a sense of uniqueness to begin with. If you take away the fact that this is a limited edition bourbon that you’re only going to be able to find once a year, you’re still getting a unique 15 year aged barrel proof bourbon that is packed full of flavor.
Value: A $70 bourbon better hold your attention, and thankfully this year’s edition of Stagg certainly does. For only $20 more than a Stagg Jr. or an Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, you get a premium aged 15 yr old bourbon that embodies the definition of sophisticated bourbon. It's so good, that you’ll want to stock up on a couple of bottles to last you the year until the next release.
Overall: Another unique factor to this year’s Stagg is the “low” proof. The lowest proof Stagg to date at 128.2 proof, and while many regular Stagg drinkers may be disappointed by the decrease in proof, I thought the drop made this just as fantastic bourbon in years past. It’s still the same monster bourbon individuals are used to, however it's in a more manageable proof. This is a bourbon that you want to savor the entire time you’re sipping it and one that you’ll want to share with the fellow bourbon lovers in your life.
To sum it up: Delicious nose with a bold body to back it up.
-Jordan - Reviewed: 3/2014
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