When it comes to whiskey, it seems like there’s always a new, hot, hard-to-find bottle that was once widely available for $30. Almost overnight, seemingly random expressions become more popular than Members Only jackets in ’85. There’s no real mystery here. It happens because the right people agree on the quality of a certain dram and shower it with praise, then websites and magazines amplify that love.
Suddenly you have a shortage and people selling bottles on aftermarket sites. Then it shortens its aging to meet demand, gets dubbed overrated, and the cycle begins anew.
That’s exactly what happened in March of 2019, when Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon won “Best in Show, Whiskey” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This reasonably easy to find $35 bourbon suddenly became the hottest whiskey in America. More than a year later, it’s still not easy to get your hands on a bottle. And it’s happening again right now.
The 2020 Ultimate Spirits Challenge saw Stagg Jr. Kentucky Straight Bourbon — a whiskey that retails for an extremely reasonable $49.99 — was awarded a 98 out of 100. Bourbon enthusiasts already knew that this was an underrated bottle, but after it was given such an incredible score the whole country has taken note.
There’s about to be a huge rush on this highly nuanced, complex whiskey expression. Check our tasting notes and get it while you can.
Stagg Jr. Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Distillery Name: Buffalo Trace
Average Price: $59.99
While George T. Stagg seems like a made-up name, he actually did exist. The native Kentuckian was selling whiskey in St. Louis when he met E.H. Taylor and the duo collaborated to open one of the most well-known distilleries in the 1800s (now known as Buffalo Trace).
For his efforts, Stagg not only got one bourbon named after him, but two. The first bourbon called George T. Stagg was so named to pay homage to the whiskey innovator. It’s uncut, unfiltered, and is aged in new charred oak barrels for at least 15 years. The second whiskey to bear his name is also uncut and unfiltered but spends just a hair under a decade maturing. Clearly, less time aging didn’t stop the judges at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge from noticing that this is a truly special dram.
From the first sip, you’ll understand why the judges loved this expression. Right off the bat, there’s a sweet, caramelized brown sugar flavor that slowly walks its way into rich, well-aged leather. That’s just the beginning of the Stagg, Jr. flavor rollercoaster. Just when you think you’ve reached the depths of its flavor; you’re met with rich cocoa sweetness followed by subtle Christmas spices before finally ending in a crescendo of creamy maple candy and toasted oak.
Don’t ruin this dram by mixing it or even adding ice. Simply open it up with a few drops of water and sip on it slowly while you let the rest of the world pass by unnoticed.