The nose has intense brown, overly caramelized caramel, hazelnuts and honey. The palate has caramel and wood with some Cognac like notes (with water, there are also chocolate and vanilla notes) citric acid and a light bitterness late palate that lasts in to the finish along with wood, candy and maple syrup.
Giving Stagg anything less than an A is nothing short of bourbon heresy, but this one just did not measure up to past years. There was a lack of that perfect balance and intensity that has been the hallmark of this great bourbon. It's still very good, but not "Stagg good."
N: Massively strong with plenty of spice and pepper up front. Corn in abundance initially, giving way to loads of caramel and toffee. Subtle undertones of vanilla; the vaguest hints of black cherry. Some well-seasoned wood comes in and then it all gives way back to corn and grain - smelling like a late summer harvest. With ice becomes quite creamy and sweet on the nose; ample vanilla and cream. Sweet toffee and a little molasses and creme brulee.
P: Warm on the palate, rich and buttery but not overpowering with heat. Toffee sweetness, growing heat with cinnamon and pepper and a faint bit of chili oil. Oak is evident and provides a slightly bitter note. After some time cherry notes emerge as well. Faint hint of bubblegum far off in the distance. Ice makes this amazingly creamy and rich, bringing toffee, caramel, vanilla, heavy cream to the front, with some cinnamon and nutmeg. Some cherries again to give a slight cut against the sweetness.
F: Hot but loses heat. Intensely cherry initially, almost tangibly. The grain is evident and cherry persists. Sweet and spicy, the finish lasts nicel. Some rye spice hangs around and there's a nice dark fruit sweetness. After a while, corn re-emerges.
This continues a Stagg tradition of big, bold, spicy, powwerful bourbons. There's a ton of nuance in this one. There's not a lot to say, it's great.