I am really stoked to get (back) into this batch 16 after scoring one during the first wave of its release. I opened it immediately to see how it stacks up to previous batches, and as a welcome reprieve from my batch 13 I'm struggling to desire a pour from lately. I explored a bit of this bottle last night with a cigar pairing (not a regular thing for me), and have definitely found a few overarching themes I'll try to touch on, as bottles will evolve a bit over time with oxidation. I try to give most things a fair shake when I can, but some things get reviewed at different fill levels. The picture attached to the post is usually a good indication of where I am. Now, let's see how this Stagg Jr is tasting this evening!
Company on Label: Buffalo Trace
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1 (Low Rye < 10%)
Age: NAS (~8 years)
Further identification: Batch 16 (Summer 2021)
Nose: Syrupy sweet plum and raisin forward to start., Dusty, herbal citrus laced oak follows. Vanilla bean. Peppercorn and a bit of anise. Waves of malted caramel. Somewhat salty and nutty too with traces of almonds. Caramel crusted popcorn. All of those fun departures circle back to a dry vanilla that serves as a wonderful base for one of the softest & approachable batches of Stagg Jr my nose has dipped towards. There's a bit of charcoal that slides under the rest of the flavors attempting to go unnoticed. A touch of bitter dark chocolate. Time for a sip! Afterwards, more of the sweet stone fruit take over; primarily the spicier cherry with a bit of cinnamon hots alongside it. The rich older oak notes now start to appear as well. I know the going rate (rumor) is that these are ~8 years, but this one noses up there maybe closer to 10 years. It hasn't yet found the George T. mature notes of leather yet, but it produces much of the same enjoyment. Some newspaper notes and toffee shavings settle in now. There's oddly something that reminds me of the cold produce section of the grocery store here too. I think it's a light clove and something earthy and akin to a root-vegetable. The glass has finally returned to a dusty oak plank with cherry and vanilla intermingled. A little smoked butter presents slightly oily late in the glass. The empty glass has multitudes of lovely brown sugar, molasses and more vanilla!
Palate: Boom. That is a vanilla bomb! Beautiful cherry and cinnamon similar to Batch 14 explode with effervescence across my tongue. As these flavors dance and fade, an infinitely long wave continues to form that just builds and builds flavors of pure raw vanilla. Flashes of anise, hibiscus and copper metallics are really interesting layers here. There is an incredibly long chest hug that let's the rest of your body know your tongue was fooled on the proof of this one. It is very easy to sip on this one, but if you're brave enough for a larger chew, amazing flavors get kicked up: red starburst sweetness, red grape, allspice, and plum. These all coat the entirety of my mouth marvelously. The finish leans a little towards the tannic side. Larger sips are oh-so-sweet. Really delicious, but it carries a slightly drying mouth feel. Apricot and nectarine are refreshing yet weathering a bit on the palate. These nuances are all very low in intensity which is a surprise for me from Stagg Jr. When I think of my go-to pour (batch 14), I am expecting things to be a little more punchy. This batch, much like batch 15 I believe, has been selected and crafted to be approachable to more folks than the die hard barrel proof fans. It loses a bit of some things in that effort, but I can certainly understand it. The overarching feel of this pour is definitely centered around the flashes of sweet fruit that dart around a wonderful river of vanilla. The last sip includes waves of all the stone fruit of the pour, more dusty, dry vanilla and a long hug goodbye of warm winter hearth allspice bakery notes.