Like the fire of 1,000 suns, it's a very hot Stagg Jr. Mmmmm...tasty, tasty suns.

I walked into the liquor store to get a bottle of wine for the pizza sauce I was making that night. 

“Hi Eric.” I heard from behind the counter. I looked over startled. I didn’t ever talk to anyone here, how did they know my name? 

When I looked over, I noticed that it was the former manager of one of the liquor stores I used to frequent all the time, but that I hadn’t been to since their bourbon selection sort of fell off. 

“Oh, hi!” I barely got out before heading down to the wine section. I knew I needed to get that before I got distracted by bourbon. This guy had a tendency to do that to me.

After getting up to the counter, we made small talk for a bit before he let me know “I have a bottle of Stagg Jr. in the office. It’s not going to hit the shelf, if you’re interested.” 


Well, this was unexpected. Did I want it? Good question. I was having some well documented personal difficulties with Sazerac’s labeling. But this wasn’t an offending product. And I’d heard good things.

“How much?” I asked expecting a fairly outrageous price.

“About $48”

“Yes.” I answered, barely letting him finish.

This, kids, is why it pays to build relationships that span the course of several years with your local liquor store. 

And so a trip for a $9 bottle of wine turned into a $63 stop after taxes. Honestly, I don’t even know why my wife lets me go to stores by myself anymore. I do have a history of randomly walking out having spent 700-1000% of what my plan was. In any case, I plan to start frequenting this store a little more.

Stagg Jr.

Purchase info: $47.99 for a 750 mL at Marketplace Liquors, Savage, MN

Details: 64.35% ABV

Nose: Lots of ethanol on this. Floral, red berries, mint, bubblegum, sourdough and a faint odor of old barn.

Mouth: Very hot and sweet. Caramel, mint, leather, tobacco, cayenne pepper. 

Finish: Warm, long and drying. Leather and black pepper. 

Thoughts: This is way too hot for me to enjoy neat. I don’t like my bourbon to cause pain. Let’s add some water to bring this down to about 100° proof.

Nose: Really tames the ethanol. Brown sugar is abundant, caramel and vanilla too. Floral notes are still there along with the bubble gum. There is now a bready note as well.

Mouth: The fire has been muted, though not extinguished. There is a nice tingle now. It’s still sweet with caramel but the lack of fire allows a fruity note to appear. Mint and cayenne are still there. Tobacco and leather have been replaced by a nice oak flavor.

Finish: nice and warm with lingering oak.


Thoughts: Wow. Now that I can taste something other than fire, I really like this. It’s sweet and fruity but nicely balanced with spice and oak. If you can find it for less than 1.5 times the price of regular Buffalo Trace, pounce on it. It’s worth the slight premium to gain the ability to dilute it to your preferred strength.