George T. Stagg Bourbon Head to Head - 2020 vs 2019 Release Blind Reviews



I am so excited to get into this head to head. Both of these pours have been tremendous to me in their own right at different times. I am really interested to see how they do side by side. All I know is that I am in for 2 great pours tonight!


My left glass is marked with a small piece of tape @AmongstTheFernsCo randomized and labeled for me blind so I can review each of these fairly.


Scroll slow if you want to read the notes and rankings without seeing the reveal at the bottom.


 

Left Glass Review:


Nose: Bright, delicious caramel forward. Vanilla is the next big punchy wave. Pepper and molasses evolve nearly instantaneously. Syrupy fruit is hiding deep down under a thick layer of rich leather. The vanilla has that dusty old oak tinge to it that definitely says 15+ year age on this. Salt water taffy just jumped out at me now. Soft peppermint Christmas candy follows incredibly clearly. Prunes and plums are starting to bubble up to the surface. Dark walnut is laying over the cherry, still not allowing it out of the glass just yet. This one is going to make me wait - and wait I shall with a pour that has already evolved this dramatically in a few minutes. Marsala wine just came to the forefront which was an interesting aroma I don't normally recognize in a whiskey. The nutty, rich caramelized thickness to the note is what really sealed the deal. After a small swirl chocolate and oak come forward.


Time for a sip!


The leather and tobacco notes of this one are thoroughly enhanced by a sip. There's dry cinnamon stick and some kind of sandy earth aroma now. Sawdust and pungent meaty marinade. Yum... The vanilla is starting to evolve into a whipped cream/marshmallow note now. It continues to dominate the late glass - a comfortable finish and reprieve.


Empty glass is very floral - not something I was noticing during my tasting at all. A ton of chocolate undertones I'm also surprised by. This has incredible layers to it.


Palate: Yup. That's the stuff! Incredible cherry explosion with a touch of anise, cinnamon hots, long syrupy drips of stewed red fruit and a beautiful wave of molasses that is floating in my mouth forever. This just has that wow factor on the palate. It's syrupy sweet, yet punchy and powerful, but it presents in manageable waves that slowly beat against the shores of your taste buds. It drinks like a late Summer night that is that perfect temperature that doesn't really even feel like a temperature. The streetlights are on and you have nowhere to be. That's this pour. I can easily take larger sips with no punishment on this one. So thick with the mouth coating... Straight up this is one of my top pours of all time right here. It's just perfect in every way. Nearing the bottom of the glass I get rich caramel still, with some light cotton sheets floating through the air, settling onto a cool bed. Oh my - the bubbly rises of vanilla and light cherry are to die for. I could never grow tired of this. The last sip is a copper and butterscotch waterfall with cherries bobbing by from time to time.


 

Right Glass Review:


Nose: Sweet vanilla and tobacco forward on first nose here. Rich leather with a hefty allspice following close behind. A bit of dark chocolate powder and just a touch of raw coffee grounds. Malty and a bit darker feeling than the left glass. Pepper, allspice, dark oak bark and a lot of earthy tones are what is coming forth on this nose. Oh! Green apple just turned a fun new leaf on this one. More leather and a dusty lemon peel skin aroma follow. Ohh you really have to dig into this one to get those sweet notes, but they are there. With a gentle few swirls of the glass, the whiskey sinks back into its resting spot for now and starts to breath in herbal stew notes and a tomato paste, brown sugar and molasses mixture I enjoy thoroughly.


Switching to a sip here after a small taste of the left glass.


More sugary anise on this than the left glass. Oh wow, some faint Pinesol aromas just bubbled up to the surface (which if you know my affinity for that aroma, you know is a fantastic note for me). Vanilla is starting to take over this glass now, which is actually a nice change from how dark and earthy it was prior. It's still a leather factory on the nose here as I come back to it. This one is more of a butterscotch than caramel.


Candied dry licorice near the end of the glass. Lovely aromas finishing up that leans almost towards a Russell's profile.


Empty glass is like a chocolate and caramel candy, with some kind of extra aroma that reminds me of the NYC metro. There is also something similar to Crayola crayon wrappers.


Palate: Oooh lovely spicy plum with cloves, pepper, caramel, brown sugar and a thick vanilla oak mouth coating. Mellower than the left glass for sure, there is sweet candied strawberry similar to a Stagg Jr batch 15. Coming off of the left glass, even with a small break and a sip of water I can tell this doesn't have the same level of wow factor, but it's still up there. Oh. There's the fruit department... All of the red stone fruit you can imagine are coated in a thin dusting of sugar and presented with a dollop of whipped cream for your enjoyment. The linger is higher in the gums rather than on the tongue, but lacks the chest hug and waves of effervescent flavor. Ohhh, coming back to it again it is a caramel and maple syrup confectionery delight now. Some nuttiness I haven't shaken - this one drinks in very 'food' forward way; it might make a fantastic pairing option.


Last sip is a slow wave of plum, apricot, caramel and lemon peel.


 

Final Ranking: Left Glass > Right Glass



Reveal: Left Glass = 2020

Right Glass = 2019


I identified this correctly (thankfully) as the 2020 is a bottle I am fairly well-versed in at this point. The 2019, while a tremendous pour on it's own, couldn't hang directly next to the 2020 release. Two unbelievable pours I am so thankful to be drinking tonight! The 2020 release was my easy choice for whiskey of the (last) year. Looking forward to picking 2021 here soon!


 

George T. Stagg - 2020 Release

Company on Label: Buffalo Trace

Whiskey Type: Bourbon

Mash Bill Percentages: Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1 (Low Rye < 10%)

Proof: 130.4°

Age: 15 years

Further identification: 2020 Release


George T. Stagg - 2019 Release

Company on Label: Buffalo Trace

Whiskey Type: Bourbon

Mash Bill Percentages: Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1 (Low Rye < 10%)

Proof: 116.9°

Age: 15 years

Further identification: 2019 Release - this came to me by way of sample from Eric @Ra1nmannn

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