Home DistilleriesBuffalo Trace Review: George T. Stagg 2023

Review: George T. Stagg 2023

by Chris Perugini

Another year of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is upon us and like clockwork, I’m back to review a perennial favorite from the series: George T. Stagg. The 2023 edition of GTS is the second consecutive release in the series after Stagg missed a year in 2021 due to reported quality concerns. Like its near-hazmat 2022 predecessor, 2023 Stagg also clocks in a hefty proof of 135.

Over the years, the profile of GTS has remained fairly consistent with a few notable nuances depending on the year. The profiles range from “toasty and overcooked” to “chock full o’ tannins” to “black cherries and cola” to “fruit-forward dessert”. This year’s GTS profile is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

George T. Stagg 2023 was distilled in the Spring of 2008 and was bottled 15 years and 3 months later at a barrel strength of 67.5% ABV. Stagg uses Buffalo Trace’s low rye Mashbill No 1, which has never been officially disclosed but is rumored to contain a very low percentage of rye. The 2023 release was selected from all over the place: floors 1 -5 of Warehouses C, I, K, L, and M. After 15 years of aging, 68% of the original whiskey was lost to evaporation. As has been the case in recent years, the barrel count is no longer disclosed so it’s difficult to estimate a bottle yield.

For all the nitty gritty details on this release, check out all the tech specs here and don’t forget to check out the Single Malt Savvy BTAC Hub for more Antique Collection reviews!

George T. Stagg
George T. Stagg 2023 - 67.5% ABV
Category Notes
Appearance Amber
Nose Fruity and a bit floral? Cinnamon-sugar toast, cherry pie filling, rose petals, strawberry jam, waffles with maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin bread. Much sweeter with water—sugar cane, more maple, and butterscotch. Clove really takes over after several minutes.
Taste Dark dried fruits (prune, fig, date), big sharp spice (clove, pepper, ginger), lots of nice rich oak, chocolate buttercream frosting, burnt sugar, baked apples, shortbread cookies. With water, I find black cherry tart, waffle cone, and Cocoa Puffs. Some candied orange is the final note to appear after several minutes.
Finish Clove, cherry cordial, more deep oak, graham cracker, burnt marshmallow, hint of golden delicious apple, dark chocolate. With water, spent black tea leaves, leather, and more syrupy sweetness.
Overall Thoughts A GTS with even a slightly floral nose wasn’t what I expected, but right from the get go, I knew I was in for a fun ride. I tried this alongside GTS 2020 and 2022 and I think it’s better than ’22 but not as good as ’20. In fact, I feel like my score of 2022 GTS should be a point or two lower after revisiting it throughout the year.

All comparisons aside, this is an excellent Stagg. The sweetness and fruitiness are accompanied by a deep oak that isn’t heavy on the tannins and wasn’t astringent at all. Compared to 2022, this drinks significantly under proof as well. George T. Stagg 2023 reminds me of a hearty breakfast outside on a spring day. Waffles, syrup, berries, and that hint of fresh flowers make for an extremely enjoyable sipping experience. As always, hats off to Buffalo Trace for a bourbon I thoroughly look forward to trying every year.
Total Score 93/100

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