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Stagg Jr. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Batch 17, Barrel Proof, Unfiltered, 64.2% ABV


They should have sent a poet.

Nose: A blitz of toasted pecan, molasses, oak, and cinnamon. It’s like standing in an old barn in eastern Kentucky on a morning in early summer - everything smells of old earth, and a golden, building heat is slowly suffusing your senses. Highland Park Cask Strength Release No. 1 still might have the best nose to me, but this one is by far the richest I’ve found.

Palate: 606 BY GAWD. This is a Jimmy Page concert solo, it goes and goes and goes, fusing styles in a seamless, violent unity. A banshee wail of dark chocolate opens it all up, followed immediately by the Stagg trademark heat slamming onto the stage in a chariot of oak. After a geologic age passes, a building crescendo of cooked red cherry replaces the initial flavors, before giving way to a thick, ultra-rich molasses riding on top of a supporting choir of every baking spice in your kitchen. The mouthfeel is as beefy as Joe Frazier in his prime.

Finish: A glacier of molasses, oak, and the famous Stagg Hug builds slowly and on its own time — your schedule is none of its concern. This is my first time experiencing the Stagg Hug, and friends, the hype is real. A brimstone warmth flows like lava, eventually illuminating everything from the crown of your head to the far end of your sternum. I poured a fairly standard glass when I first opened it, and it took me over an hour to drink it. The finish is both that long and that intoxicating to savor.

Summary: I nearly wrote this in all CAPS LOCK, because this is an all CAPS LOCK, unleashed, Old Testament bourbon. Like Johnny Cash, it walks an incredibly impressive line between the sweet and fiery aspects of bourbon, and it masters both. Quite frankly, it’s so good you’ll want to cry. This is simply the best whiskey I’ve ever had. My only hope is you find a bottle in 2021 that sings like this one did for me. Put this one in the Louvre, it’s a masterpiece.


Image courtesy of Jon who also writes on Low Class & High Proof.


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