George T. Stagg, 70.9%

Price: $65 Issue: Spring 2009 Reviewer: John Hansell

Stagg is so smooth, it's quite drinkable at higher proofs. On the other hand, when you bring it down to the strength that you would normally drink your whiskey, it's almost too easygoing (I made the same comment about last year's William Larue Weller bottling). The main theme to this whiskey is lush toffee sweetness and, like last year's expression, some vanilla fudge, nougat, and molasses. Underlying notes of dates, tobacco, dark berried fruit, spearmint, and a hit of coffee round out the palate. Given the higher strength, it's a true value bourbon -- almost like getting two bottles in one. A very nice whiskey but, when brought down to comparable strength, the Eagle Rare 17 has more complexity.