I’m not a whiskey aficionado (or a beer one really but I get by) so I was lucky this year in two ways. The first is I bought a case (3 bottles) of Thomas Handy via a local whiskey distributor and I traded one of those bottles + a Hill Farmstead Damon for a George T. Stagg. The Stagg Junior was $49 on my local shelf so I bought one and now it’s long gone so I was kicking myself until I tasted it and realized it’s not all that good for the price. In fact, I’m not an expert here but I think these two bottles are totally different animals entirely with their only similarity being that they share the name and are barrel proof.
This Stagg Jr release is 67.2% ABV and GTS 2013 is 64.1% so the ABV is not all that important. I tried these with 2 friends who also weighed in.
Nose is like candy corn and cotton candy. Like bubblegum, wood varnish and turpentine. Caramely and brown sugar.
Insanity in taste. mouthfeel is a booze bomb. Wood floor cleaner and a crisp honey undertone. Very intense like it has a ton of pineapple, honey, oak and vanilla bean. With some water it opens up but the honey and vanilla are way subdued. I prefer this one without water and while it’s not as good as some of the barrel proof ryes I’ve had this year (Boss Hogg, EH Taylor Straight Rye and Saz 18), it’s a different animal and is very enjoyable.
smell is like a cheap whiskey and nail polish remover
Taste is pretty bad. honey is still there, booze is much more pronounced. it’s like this stupid ridiculous booziness. figs, honey oak. The booze + turpentine in this take away from any good qualities. This reminds me a lot of the Chattanooga Cask Strength whiskey I got from a friend. It’s okay when there’s nothing else around but would be better off used to make drinks with than drink straight and that’s disappointing given the price. If you want to drink Pine Sol, pick this one up.