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My Bookers VS George T Stagg review

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My Bookers VS George T Stagg review

Postby jimidrammer » Thu Dec 22, 2005 3:04 am

First let me say I've never cared much for Bourbon from the time I was drinking age. I had the occasional Jim Beam and a few other "cheap" ones. My main goal back then was to get drunk, anyway. Moving on to the present, my explorations into Single Malts has inadvertantly crossed paths with Bourbon Aficionados who have enlightened me to the true taste of a great Bourbon. I started this new offshoot with a few reasonable bottles like Makers Mark, Knob Creek, and Wild Turkey Russells Reserve, but they still had that "Bourbon Face" reaction when I tried to get to know them. I did the research to find the top 2 rated bottles and came up with the following 2 pours to make a definitive conclusion of whether Bourbon was my thing. I am now well assured that these 2 are great Bourbons and wanted to let anyone who has been on the fence about these or Bourbon in general that they are worth every penny ($45US) if you can get them (They are both readily available in the US). Here's my notes on both and my choice of a favorite.

Booker’s 63.3% abv (age 8yr, 2 mo) Score 47

Color: Rich amber

Nose: Charred oak, cinnamon, cigar box

Palate: Sweet corn, tangy middle, burnt sugar

Body: Chewy, rich

Finish: Soft trailing after a biting sting

Quote: The first bourbon that said, “keep drinking me” after so many left me wishing I could wash that taste out of my mouth. Definitely an intense whiskey suitable for sipping on a cold winters’ night.


George T. Stagg barrel proof 65.9% abv (age 16yo) Spring lot A Score 46

Color: Blood orange

Nose: Polished new leather and wood, fruit cobbler, citrus zest, cigar box, pineapple

Palate: Bright citrus zing, sweet cooked fruit middle, meaty BBQ spices, tobacco leaf, dried oak, earthy, everything!

Body: Very firm, assertive, chewy

Finish: Robust, lively, balanced

Quote: A very complex nosing experience to say the least. The palate continues the ride. Now I know how bourbon is supposed to taste, not to take anything away from other good pours, but this hits its stride and keeps on running. I feel like I’ve ridden the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby. Anything better is nearly out of my score range, although a different batch may go + or - 1 point.


I score Non-Single Malts 0-50 and beer 0.0-5.0 to keep them separate from other scores, I don't know why, but as you can see these are both great and almost impossible to pick one over the other. They could just as easily be a tie with 2 different bottles since they are batched slightly older/younger, stronger/weaker, so my final conclusion is get them both, they are superb, top quality brands that anyone who appreciates such things would be glad to add to their collection. If they are not available in your area, well, now you can see how some of us feel about our Single Malt selections. Just kidding...

Enjoyed a Mackeson Triple Stout between sips and the chocolate cake/soy sauce/ fudge/ fresh coffee bean flavors of the beer really sits well with the Bourbons. All in all a very positive session. :D :wink:
Last edited by jimidrammer on Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Crispy Critter » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:40 am

Very interesting... I have yet to try a Booker's - now I'm going to have to get one, and my wallet already hurts. :) I do have three different versions of Stagg among my bottles, and each has a lot to offer.
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Postby Badmonkey » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:55 am

Much obliged, jimidrammer.

The Booker's still staring at me behind the glass doors of my liquor cabinet and I am waiting for the right company upon whom to unleash the beast. I have yet to see Stagg in Alberta. Perhaps my sister can bring some up on her next trip north of the border.

The more I explore the world of bourbon the more I am convinced that it is too often given the short shrift by whisky lovers who have never given it a chance. Please keep the reviews coming.

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Postby Crispy Critter » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:47 am

Badmonkey wrote:The more I explore the world of bourbon the more I am convinced that it is too often given the short shrift by whisky lovers who have never given it a chance.


Indeed, a year or so ago, I would have been one of those dismissing bourbon, based mostly on an unfortunate encounter with (yeah, it's not really bourbon) Jack Daniel's many years ago.

Now, I have at least as many different bourbons as Scotches... and I've found some that are inexpensive to downright cheap, and a pleasure to drink.

Keep in mind that bourbons tend to be sweeter than Scotches (especially Islays), and the sweetness is not like the sherried Speysiders. Extra-aged single grain Scotches have a similar but softer profile.

Even the top-shelf bourbons tend to cost a lot less than Scotches of a similar age, at least at Chicago prices.
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Postby jimidrammer » Thu Dec 22, 2005 2:09 pm

I find that Bourbon is not as diverse as Single malts, but they climb the quality scale within that same profile. There are the "wheated" whiskey and, of course, rye, but what I'm seeing is more of a balance issue. Some just get the integration more "right" than others.

My next to try are:

Eagle Rare 17
Sazerac Rye 18

(I've got 1 bottle of each located, but that's all I've seen. They are both in the same tall bottle as the GTS, same series/distillery I think, and don't fit in my Scotch shelves)

and maybe:

Evan Williams Single Barrel
Old Rip Van Winkle 15
Elijah Craig 12
Old Weller 107
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Woodford Reserve
And the new Bernheim wheat whisky

These will all have to wait until next year, though. Right now I'm anticipating my Highland Park 25 opening Christmas day. :D
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:10 pm

That's two HP 25 openings on Christmas! Cheers.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Dec 23, 2005 12:10 am

Well, as my username suggests, I'm the bourbon equivalent of the 'peat freak', 'SMSW freak', et al -- I have well over 100 different bottlings in the house, all but the rare exception of which I've tasted at one time or another (about 20 are open at the moment).
I also enjoy straight rye very much, and have 8-10 single-malts in the cupboard.
So -- while I prefer Stagg to Booker's, I'm not surprised any whisk(e)y-lover can enjoy them. Not yet mentioned among the must-try suggestions is the W.L. Weller 12yo, which is one of the best bargains out there -- it'll run you all of $15-$17 per 750ml if you find it. Twelve-year-old wheated bourbon, quality taste, under $18. Buy it.
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Postby jimidrammer » Fri Dec 23, 2005 12:33 am

TNbourbon wrote:Well, as my username suggests, I'm the bourbon equivalent of the 'peat freak', 'SMSW freak', et al -- I have well over 100 different bottlings in the house, all but the rare exception of which I've tasted at one time or another (about 20 are open at the moment).
I also enjoy straight rye very much, and have 8-10 single-malts in the cupboard.
So -- while I prefer Stagg to Booker's, I'm not surprised any whisk(e)y-lover can enjoy them. Not yet mentioned among the must-try suggestions is the W.L. Weller 12yo, which is one of the best bargains out there -- it'll run you all of $15-$17 per 750ml if you find it. Twelve-year-old wheated bourbon, quality taste, under $18. Buy it.


TNbourbon, as one of the resident bourbon experts around here I've been meaning to ask you for suggestions. Now is the WL Weller 12 as good/better than the Antique 107. I've tried the latter but it was a long time ago and just a quick shot. I want to find a wheated bourbon better than Makers Mark, while good, not earth-shaking despite the 45% abv. I'm using the ABV guage as a flavor indicator, not an alcohol kick indicator. As for rye, I have located 1 bottle of Sazerac 18 @ $65US which seems a little high, but if you tell me it's that good I'll pick it up Saturday on my way to the In-Laws for Christmas. :)
Last edited by jimidrammer on Fri Dec 23, 2005 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Dec 23, 2005 3:36 am

jimidrammer wrote:... Now is the WL Weller 12 as good/better than the Antique 107. I've tried the latter but it was a long time ago and just a quick shot. I want to find a wheated bourbon better than Makers Mark...As for rye, I have located 1 bottle @ $65US which seems a little high, but if you tell me it's that good I'll pick it up Saturday on my way to the In-Laws for Christmas. :)


In my opinion, the Weller 12 -- a wheater -- is head-and-shoulders better than Maker's Mark. Also 90 proof. Think maple/brown sugar. Very rich.
As for rye, sounds like you're looking at a Sazerac for that price (or Black Maple Hill). Better still, if you can find it (no easy task -- only in a few markets), the Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond (100 proof). Exceptional for under $20 here. The Wild Turkey is a good rye and good value, too. Don't spend so much the first time unless you have to.
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Postby MGillespie » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:37 pm

Jimi...if you're looking for something with wheat, you might want to give Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey a try...it's not a bourbon, but it's very good...

Mark
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