Stagg 23A Review

Stagg 23A has been on my shelf for a few months and I’ve already had a few pours. This is batch 21 of the Stagg (Jr.) series and it clocks in at 130.2 proof. Grab a pour of your favorite sipper and join me as I work through this Stagg 23A review.

Quick Summary: I like 23A better than 23B, but not as much as 22B. Stagg 23A has a fabulous, complex, sweet nose of caramel, toffee, toasted barrel, butterscotch, vanilla, fig, mild baking spices, and leather. But on the palate, it is the opposite of the nose. It is semi-dry, more spicy & dry than it is sweet. It seems a bit unbalanced towards spicy/dry than sweet flavors (some people prefer that!).

Is it worth the MSRP of around $70? Absolutely! Is it worth an aftermarket price of $150? Perhaps. Is it worth $250? Only if you like a spicy/dry flavor profile with a mild undercurrent of sweetness. But…be sure to read the “Other Reviewer’s Perceptions” below because some of them find plenty of sweetness in this batch!

Series: Formerly Stagg Jr, now simply Stagg
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: NAS (aged at least 4 years per regulations, but rumored to be 7-9 years old)
Proof: 130.2
Proof Designation: Barrel Proof
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: Buffalo Trace Mash #1, undisclosed but speculated to be 82% Corn, 8% Rye, 10% Barley
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Company: Sazerac Company
Distilled/Aging Location: Frankfort, Kentucky
Release Date: Late Spring 2023
MSRP: $70 (2023)
Secondary Market: $150 – $450
Availability: Low/Rare

Stagg 23A Review
Stagg 23A Review

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.


Caramel, toffee, toasted barrel, butterscotch, vanilla, fig, mild baking spices, leather. At the bottom edge of the glass, I get cherry. The nose is sweeter than it is dry or spicy.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: Smells so freaking good. This is exactly what you want. Cherry cola, a little bit of grapiness like a grape soda, a little bit of oak but mostly bright and sweet. Fantastic nose.

Drink Hacker: It’s deeply fruited in a way that many have argued was missing from the last few batches. Communion wine, stewed cherries, and sweet oak give way to Boylan black cherry and grape sodas as the bottle is allowed to open up. It’s remarkably ethanol-free at 130.2 proof.

Amongst The Whiskey: Right away I get an interesting sweet salinity out of the glass. Digging past that, it’s brown sugar bursting through. Barrel funk is prevalent throughout the glass as notes of leather, allspice, black pepper kernels, and rich caramel sauce just screams “well-aged bourbon”.

Hints of green apple can be dug up from beneath these heavier, richer tones. Mmm – the wood tones cannot be understated here. My right nostril finds more of the earthiness that comes with barrel funk: think patchouli, charcoal and resinous larch. My left nostril recalls bakery sweetness of maple bacon, strawberry crêpes and confectioners sugar.

Oh yeah, barrel funk sticks around… If you’ve never smelled the inside of a rick house, this is your chance for an introduction. The empty glass smells of aged gouda, smile-worthy leather and heavy metal factory machinery. If you’ve ever visited an old mill of any kind (textile, shoemaker, you name it) you’ll know what I mean.


Baking spices, clove, spicy oak, allspice, cherry cola, mild caramel, soft vanilla, sweet leather, old oak, fig. A flash of something like blackberry. The palate is spicy and dry with an underlying sweetness, which is the opposite of the nose. It seems a bit unbalanced between spicy, dry, and sweet notes.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: Candy sweet, just like I would expect from the nose. Cherry, grape, a powdered sugar note, a Buffalo Trace rick house type of note to it. That is really good. This one gets in line with the sweet profile of batch 15.

Drink Hacker: It has a distinct dustiness to it. It’s funky but never challenging, lightly smoked maraschinos and maple syrup. There’s a stickiness (to the mouthfeel).

Amongst The Whiskey: Right from the start I find a refined, balanced and approachable Stagg – not the spice bomb of some of their releases. Apple notes dominate on the introduction. The mouth coating is silky and it sticks around an incredibly long time with maraschino cherry delivering the majority of the production. Another sip elevates creamy tones of vanilla bean ice cream, pie crust and syrupy cherry.

The linger is long and magnificent with classic bourbon tones of cherry, crème brülée and butterscotch. A larger sip and swish introduces a bit of a drying feeling as graham cracker, brown sugar cookie, salt water taffy, and waves of oak pour over the taste buds. Flashes of Christmas spices burst onto the palate at times. As I sip lower in the glass I get surprised by a slightly tannic, dark note blending somewhere in a brooding swirl of raspberry and blackberry. Hints of orange peel and simple focaccia notes give this excellent depth. This drinks thoroughly satisfying without venturing into the wow territory.


Spicy barrel, old leather, cloves, cinnamon, hints of caramel and vanilla. The finish is fairly long, mostly spicy and dry/tannic with a soft undertone of caramel.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: Long finish.

Drink Hacker: It has a relatively fleeting finish that actually makes for quite the crushable pour.

Amongst The Whiskey: The finish is medium to long at times and carries plum, sweet raisin and fresh raspberry notes.

The Burn

4 out of 5. This means that the burn from the alcohol is a bit lower (about 5%) than what I would expect it to be. I would guess this to be around 125 proof, not 130.2 proof.

Notes and History

Stagg Jr was first released in the Fall of 2013 and the brand was introduced as Stagg Jr with the intention of being a more readily available version of its “father” George T. Stagg, which is part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and is considered to be a “Unicorn” amongst bourbon enthusiasts because it is so hard to find, especially at, or near, MSRP.

Beginning with Batch 18 in the winter of 2022, Stagg dropped the “Jr” in the name and it is now simply called Stagg. And beginning with the 2022 releases, each bottle now has a batch number such as 23A, 23B, etc.

My Tasting Notes

A blank version of this tasting notes wheel is available in both a color and a black & white version in the member’s area.

Stagg 23A Tasting Notes

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