Stagg Jr

                                                             Most Bourbon lovers are familiar with the legendary George T Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. A lot fewer have actually tried it being that a bottle is very hard to procure and it is pretty pricey, around $90. Think of Stagg Jr just as the name implies, an offspring of GTS, and like all sons, they are younger than their dad. So while the father is aged 15 to 17 years, the son, Stagg jr, is aged 8-9 years.

Stagg Jr varies in proof but is usually pretty high, our bottle clocked in at a whooping 132.1 proof. It comes in a short corked bottle with deer antlers which is somewhat different than the tall, lean GTS bottle. Jr sells for around $50 for the 750ml. When we first got a bottle of this a few years back it seemed a novelty and we didn’t review it thinking that it wouldn’t be around long or be impossible to find. Lately we have seen it in a lot of stores.

We both love, I mean LOVE the father George T Stagg. Hopefully the child won’t disappoint.

NOSE

Ron:   Does not have the flaming nose that I expected with the 132 proof. Somewhat subtle and needs a little water to open up aromas of brown sugar, caramel, oak and vanilla. Also get a slight hint of white pepper. All in all a very nice nose.

Todd:    It definitely opens up with some water. Upfront I get the caramel and brown sugar that Ron caught. Lingering behind this is secondary aromas of cherries, toffee, oak, raisin and vanilla. Also got a very slight presence of cinnamon.

TASTE

Ron:     Most definitely needs a melted cube to bring out the tastes. Strong flavors of caramel, leather, oak and pepper dominate on the front end. Behind that I get some nice flavors of brown sugar, tobacco and cinnamon.

Todd:    Too hot neat, I get nothing but the burn and maybe a little wood. With a couple of melted cubes the flavors really come out. I now get cedar and oak instead of just wood. Also get a strong taste of caramel. Some secondary flavors include leather, raisin and almonds.

FINISH

Ron:   A medium-long to long malty finish with some sweetness.

Todd:    Long sweet finish with more of the cedar.

OVERALL

Ron:     I really enjoyed drinking Stagg Jr. A good nose and a complex taste makes for a good Bourbon.

Todd:    I agree, really like this stuff.  A lot happening on the nose and tongue. All followed by a nice finish.

Nose       4.25 out of 5

Taste       8.75 out of 10

Finish      4.25 out of 5

Total score      17.25 out of 20  Barrels

Well the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. While not quite as good as pops, Stagg Jr is a very good Bourbon and a lot easier to find.  The price is a little on the high side but with such a high proof you can cut it liberally with water, thus bringing the overall cost down.

Our Recommendation,  Even if you have to save up a little, go out and buy a bottle. You will thanks us even if you only take a small drink every other month or so. Enjoy.

 

 

YellowStone Select

                                                             Here is example where one word makes all the difference.   Yellowstone Select is not to be confused with bottom shelf dweller Yellowstone original. While both are Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskies, only one says Select. To confuse you a bit more, there is also Yellowstone Limited Edition, which sells well over $100 for a 750ml bottle. We are not fans of the original version. Ron recalls a “brain killer” of a headache the morning after too much of the original bottom shelf stuff. To this day he is sticking to the story that it was not the volume consumed, but who could know for sure.

Yellowstone Select is a blend of 4 to 7 year old Bourbons and sells for around $45-$50. It comes in an elegant, if somewhat plain tall corked bottle. It is bottled at 93 proof and while somewhat available, it is not everywhere.

This was a little difficult to investigate but after some exploring the web, Yellowstone Bourbon started in the 1880’s by J. B. Dant, son of legendary J. W. Dant and was named after the newly opened National Park. In the 1960s it was the largest selling brand of Bourbon in Kentucky. Over the 120 year history the Yellowstone brand changed hands 5 times with the last sale, in 2004, to Luxco (formerly known as David Sherman Co.). In 2015 Luxco bought a 50% stake in Limestone Branch, which produces the Yellowstone Select as well as Yellowstone Limited Edition Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Now that is a lot of history to process!

NOSE

Ron:     Caramel and pear hit me first followed by hints of vanilla, wood and toasted nuts.

Todd:    A decent nose even though the only dominant scent was of multi-grain bread. I get nice secondary aromas of leather, oak, cedar, tobacco and black fruit.

TASTE

Ron:    Mostly get on the tongue what I got on the nose. Sweet caramel, vanilla and toasted nuts. Not much in the way of secondary tastes, maybe just a slight bitter, medicinal flavor.

Todd:   Like the nose, nothing dominates. I get hints of the grain, leather, tobacco and oak that I got on the nose. Also pick up faint tastes of yeast and the bitterness that Ron mentioned.

FINISH

Ron:    A sweet medium-long finish with just a trace of something that is reminiscent of walnut shells.

Todd:     Medium to medium-long finish with a nutty sweetness.

OVERALL

Ron:    This was a bottle Todd picked up at a Bourbon lottery last December, and while I liked it I am not sure it is worth the premium price. One note, I did like it slightly moreso once a cube had melted.

Todd:     Yeah, I remember the lottery and how this was about the only thing left that I didn’t have or hadn’t tasted. I have to echo Ron’s sentiments, enjoyed it but probably not worth $45-$50.

Nose     4 out of 5

Taste      8 out of 10

Finish     3.75 out of 5

Final score      15.75 out of 20 barrels

As we have stated many times we take price into consideration and while this Bourbon was enjoyable to drink, it is priced a little too high. At $45-$50 plus, it is too expensive to mix with anything but water, and not complex enough neat or on the rocks to justify the price.

Final Verdict, If you see Yellowstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon Select on sale for under $40, give it a try. If not, there are others more deserving of your hard earned cash.

Baker’s

                                          Today we are reviewing Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This is another offering from Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection. This is a special edition blog post from Talking Bourbon. We were invited to talk at the monthly meeting of the Bourbon Society of Indianapolis, by their president Kyle LeClere. After a brief speech about us and our new book, we lead them in a tasting of Baker’s. Everyone was provided with one our tasting sheets to fill out and return to us. So many were returned we decided to combined their results to a single voice called BSOI or “the group”.

Baker’s sells for around $55 for the 750 ml bottle, comes in a fairly nondescript corked bottle and can sometimes be a little difficult to find. It is aged 7 years and bottled at 107 proof. The Jim Beam website states that it is barreled and aged in small batches which are then stored in the center racks of the rick house, not near the bottom or top, for aging.

Like everything that comes from Beam, we are always skeptical that we are just getting a higher proof, longer aged, more expensive version of the highly popular, but very unpopular here at TB, Jim Beam White label. There are exceptions though, we both like Booker’s and to a lesser degree Basil Hayden’s.

NOSE

Todd:   A sweet scent of caramel is the most prevalent. Behind this are aromas of grain, citrus and spice. Not bad but expect a little more considering the price.

Ron:   I get clean spicy vanilla upfront. This is followed by smells of toast, wood and Rye. Finally a very slight nose of almonds.

BSOI:   Corn, spice and grain seems to be the most popular response from the group.  Second is fruit, wood, and caramel.

TASTE

Todd:   I taste the caramel, citrus and grain that I got on the nose along with some oak. I get some background taste of black fruit and leather.

Ron:  Lots of great flavors, including strong tastes of wood/oak, spice and sweetness. I also get a slight hint of leather and even slighter hint of clove.

BSOI:   The majority get a nutty spicy taste along with caramel. Secondary flavors included tobacco, pepper, leather, and Rye.

FINISH

Todd:  Medium long with a nice sweetness and maybe a bit more citrus.

Ron:   Medium long to long with a warming caramel.

BSOI:   A dry medium long finish with some saying bitter and others saying sweet. Caramel and oak also get some mention.

OVERALL

Todd:   I liked Baker’s but I probably wouldn’t pay $55 for a bottle.

Ron:    Some good things going on but have to agree with Todd.

BSOI:   Good stuff but about $25 too high.

Nose      4 out of 5

Taste      8 out of 10

Finish     3.75 out of 5

Total score     15.75 out of 20 Barrels

Baker’s did convince us that it is not just an older, higher proof version of Beam White label. In fact it doesn’t even taste like the same mash bill, which is a good thing.

Baker’s is actually a good Bourbon, but as our readers know, we do take price in consideration. At this price point or under, there are just too many things we would recommend over Baker’s.  Having said that, if you do buy a bottle and pour yourself a glass, we are confident you will enjoy it and there are a lot worse things than that.

Thanks again to the Bourbon Society of Indianapolis for inviting us to talk and in helping taste Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.