With George T. Stagg bourbon canceled for 2021, many collectors and customers are scrambling to seek out older releases to carry themselves over till 2022. However for those who’re contemplating doing the identical, be warned: the mad sprint to get a bottle in hand is already underway. When the a lot sought-after Buffalo Trace Antique Collection was confirmed to be down a bottle for 2021, the secondary market hunt jumped into gear for any and all earlier releases of George T. Stagg bourbon.
Buffalo Hint introduced final week that George T. Stagg wouldn’t be launched for the 2021 batch, citing high quality issues—that the whiskey put aside for this bottle was merely not prepared for bottling.
The whiskey has a cult following, however that following is born principally out of Buffalo Hint’s resolution to call nice whiskey after an iconic steward of the distillery’s lengthy historical past.
George T. Stagg was born in 1835 in Kentucky. He served within the Union Military in the course of the Civil Struggle, and later moved to St. Louis, Missouri, the place he started a gross sales relationship with E.H. Taylor, Jr. that ended with Stagg buying Taylor’s O.F.C. Distillery from him when Taylor’s funds tanked. O.F.C. later took Stagg’s identify, earlier than it will definitely grew to become Buffalo Hint Distillery.
His namesake whiskey has been launched 20 instances, together with a second “Spring” launch in 2005. It has gained numerous awards and accolades over time.
The 2020 launch consisted of barrels crammed in spring 2005 from warehouses L, Ok, and Q. We managed to trace down final yr’s pattern, which was bottled at an immense 130.4 proof.
The everyday cinnamon and caramel notes and a touch of cherry have been obvious on the nostril; however on the palate, crisp intonations of candy cherry syrup, hints of smoke, black espresso, and vanilla have been softened by an enormous, natural be aware and outstanding hints of uncooked sugar and polish. It’s actually scrumptious—however at what value?
There’s at all times the query of cash. If in case you have plenty of it, you’ll be able to most likely skip this half, however for these of us with a set bourbon price range, earlier Stagg releases is likely to be out of your attain—and getting worse.
Right here’s one thing for consideration: Initially of this yr, a latest classic of George T. Stagg would have run you roughly $700, plus or minus $50. Costs at all times go up—even a month in the past, George T. Stagg 2020 and 2019 have been hovering round $800—however something above that might’ve arguably been freeway theft.
Within the final week, nevertheless, the value has snowballed. On the time of this writing, bottles have been being marketed for $1,100, with patrons in consideration. A 50 p.c in a single day enhance in value is astounding, even amid this yr’s ongoing, economy-wide inflation points.
It will get worse for those who’ve been looking for older vintages. A bottle of the unique launch from 2002 was marketed by one vendor over the weekend at a fair $5,000—effectively above present costs for latest Pappy Van Winkle bottles.
Keep in mind once more: This can be a $99 MSRP bottle and, whereas secondary market costs are sometimes excessive for Buffalo Hint whiskeys, these 10x will increase are frankly ridiculous for the typical drinker, until they’re a really intense fan of the Stagg Model.
The underside line: this isn’t a time the place your cash can be effectively spent. Even when whiskey costs by no means “pop” in a bubble, it’s onerous to imagine this isn’t artificially excessive. As a substitute, this can be a good time to look outdoors the Stagg household, since $1,100 can get you a case of improbable bourbons from throughout the trade, and distilleries like Frey Ranch, New Riff, Wild Turkey and loads of others are producing nice liquids (at far more cheap costs).
At our final look, $1,100 will get you a bottle of the Booker’s thirtieth launch from a number of years in the past.
We’re not directing you away from Buffalo Hint both. This yr’s BTAC did have some gems, together with the 101 proof Eagle Uncommon 17 Yr, which was created from whiskey distilled in 2002, and has an analogous profile of cherries, espresso, an natural spike of spearmint, and layer after layer of candy oak.
We’ve compiled lists of different distilleries value trying out, together with this yr’s 10 to watch, and there are loads extra the place that got here from.
A very powerful concern, although, is counterfeits. Even for those who do really feel comfy paying a thousand bucks for a bottle proper now, each counterfeiter available on the market is at present targeted on assembly the Stagg demand that Buffalo Hint couldn’t. They’re good at it, and fakes will be onerous to identify, even with experience.
So whereas we usually settle for that purchasing on the secondary market is a crucial evil, take our recommendation: Sit this one out, increase your world as an alternative, and we’ll all do that once more in 2022.
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