Buffalo Trace is bidding a boozy farewell to 2020 with one more high-proof bourbon release. Stagg Jr. Batch 15 is hitting shelves this month, with one of the highest proof points we’ve seen all year.
This is the second batch of 2020. The first batch, which was announced in January, weighed in at a mere 128.4. proof—more or less amateur hour, when you consider that Buffalo Trace’s 2020 release of William Larue Weller holds the portfolio-wide crown with a literally blistering 134.5-proof bottling of William Larue Weller.
Stagg Jr. is also not to be confused with George T. Stagg—a much older and more coveted release within the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. This year’s George T. Stagg was proofed to an impressive 130.4.
Buffalo Trace describes this 131.1-proof batch of Stagg. Jr. as having notes of “vanilla bean and salted caramel front and center on the nose, cherries, cinnamon and oak on the palate, and a long finish of toasted vanilla, pepper, coffee and hints of sweet mint.”
Does proof even matter? Well, yes and no. At 130-anything, you’re not likely to enjoy much of the whiskey’s subtlety at all, and are better off adding a few careful drops of water to open the whiskey up like the pros do.
But high-proof bottlings are good because, well, you can’t take water out of the whiskey yourself, but you can always put some in to your own taste.
We’d advise against drinking it straight, but once you’ve done it anyway and experienced the burn, take our advice and add a few drops of water, give it a swirl, and let all those complex flavors breathe a bit.
That advice is, of course, assuming you get your hands on a bottle. Buffalo Trace prices this allocated release around $50, but it can go for several times that on secondary markets (you know, like everything else they make). Which is not to say it’s not worth it—in fact, Stagg is one of the better after-market values from Buffalo Trace these days, at 8 years of age and cask strength.
If you don’t see yourself getting a bottle this time, Batch 16 is scheduled for a Spring 2021 release, so now is a good time to start charming your liquor store connections.
Clay Whittaker is a Contributing Editor at Maxim.com. His work has appeared in Cigar Aficionado, Playboy, Esquire, Forbes, Town and Country, and elsewhere. You can subscribe to his newsletter here, and follow him on Instagram here.