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In a move that should shock nobody, the proof of Red Stag by Jim Beam will be dropping from 80 to 70 beginning March 1st. Prices will remain unchanged, as you probably imagined. This move follows a recent history of shortages and price increases by Four Roses and Jim Beam. In fact, many of you probably remember two years ago when Maker’s Mark (another Beam brand) proposed cutting the proof of their product instead of risking a shortage. In that case, they saved face by reversing the decision, but we can’t imagine there will be as much pressure on the Red Stag brand. We recommend you buy in the next two days if you are a fan!
Beam Suntory posted a press release last week indicating that it will be releasing a collection of Booker’s Limited Edition bottlings throughout 2015. As big fans of “regular” Booker’s ($59.99), and even bigger fans of last year’s Booker’s 25th Anniversary Edition ($99.99), this is very exciting news to us!
While very few details are available, the first of the Limited Editions will be inscribed as batch “2015-1” and called “Big Man, Small Batch.” Judging by the picture in the press release, we are assuming this will be released alongside the “regular” Booker’s and priced somewhere in the $79.99 range. With the age being similar to the “regular” stuff (6-8 years) indicating a lower range price, and the stained wooden case indicative of the 25th Anniversary Edition indicating a higher range price, this seems to be the middle ground. Further details from the press release:
- Proof: 128.7
- Age: 7 years, 2 months and 16 days
- Batch Notes: Culled from seven different rack houses, Batch 2015-1 blends the flavor tendencies of several small groups of barrels to create a complex bourbon with a vanilla nose.
- Sipping Suggestions: With ice or cut with water
As of now it’s not on the books in Michigan, and doesn’t appear to be slated to hit them in March either. We would guess it will be available to the Michigan market in April.
- Producer: Buffalo Trace Distillery
- Location: Frankfort, Kentucky
- Name: Stagg Jr. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Classification: Small Batch, Limited Release
- Specific Characteristics: Uncut & Unfiltered
- Age: No Age Statement (8-9 Years)
- Proof: 132.1
- Michigan Minimum Shelf Price: $49.96
Before we even smelled or tasted this Bourbon, it was quite evident that it was high proof due to it’s very dark coloring and legs that were very slow to run down the side of our glass.
Smell: With a small whiff of this Bourbon, we first notice a subtle floral fragrance that quickly gives way to the slight sweetness of baking chocolate. This turns to a spicy rye scent that lingers, before giving way to a slight cherry smell to finish things off. If we allow our nose to linger a little longer, we can smell a sweet vanilla which fades to a rye spiciness before our nose is tickled by the alcohol scent. Although the alcohol scent is present with a big sniff, it is well hidden by the other scents until the finish.
Taste: There is a very quick sweet taste that is hard to identify, before the flavors begin to coat our palate. This sweetness gives way to a rye spiciness on the tip of the tongue that moves towards the back, then the roof of the mouth, back to the front, to the lips, and then finally a long, lingering finish which coats the mouth. It is a bold flavor that is hard to distinguish individual flavors in the first sip. Further sips reveal the tastes of chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, cherry, oak, and smoke. As we continue to taste this Bourbon, we can identify and isolate many of these flavors, as if the others weren’t present. The balance of sweet and spicy seems to hide the high proof, although it quickly goes to our head despite what our mouth tells us. The finish is a long, lingering smoky flavor that really dries the palate.
This Bourbon is fairly smooth and balanced, despite being barrel strength. That said, there doesn’t seem to be much depth to the individual flavors and it seems to be missing overall.
Recommendation and Score
Recommendation: This is definitely a sipping Bourbon, although it may be best consumed with a splash of water depending on your experience with higher proof Bourbons. Although it is a limited release bottle which uses the well-respected Stagg name, it seems to be missing something as we mentioned above. The intrigue of the bold flavors somewhat hiding the high proof gains this Bourbon a couple of points score-wise, but it doesn’t blow us away. Overall, it is very good, but for some reason still doesn’t quite live up to our expectations. We would recommend it more as a “curiosity” than a “must have.”
Score: 90 out of 100 overall.
Following the larger trends of limited supplies and higher prices, Four Roses prices will be increasing in the state of Michigan as of February 1st, 2015. The increases will affect Four Roses Single Barrel (+$2.68 or 6.8% to $41.98), Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection (+$6.16 or 11.1% to $66.60), and Four Roses Small Batch (+$2.49 or 8.4% to $31.99). All three are highly recommended Bourbons, so we suggest either picking up a bottle to try or stocking up on your favorites if you are already a fan. With only six days before the price increases though, you’d better decide quick!