George T. Stagg 2nd Edition, 71.35%

Price: $45 Issue: Summer 2004 Reviewer: John Hansell

The first release of Stagg was our 'American Whiskey of the Year' for 2003. I couldn't imagine this one being better, but it is. This is a textbook example of what older, more mature bourbon should taste like: great depth and maturity, yet nicely balanced without excessive woodiness on the palate. It is spicier and creamier on the nose than the first bottling with more vanilla tones and not quite as dry on the finish. Indeed, it hints of a softer, gentler side. But with a name like Stagg, it can be nothing more than a hint. Other flavors you'll enjoy in this bourbon include spearmint, teaberry, candied fruit, leather, and toffee. Given its high proof and reasonable price, it's also a great value. (Like Campbell's soup, just add water.)