George T. Stagg is a crowd-pleaser.
While it’s the easiest of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) to get every year, 2021 will hold an unwelcome surprise for fans. There’s no George T. Stagg being released this year. And, as the most widely produced of the BTAC collection, there’s sure to be some disruption in the whiskey ecosystem.
Buffalo Trace’s master distiller, Harlen Wheatley, announced that it wasn’t up to their standards. Upon trying the Stagg barrels that were to be released this year, they weren’t of the quality people have come to expect from BTAC releases.
While this may be incredibly disappointing, we feel this was the right move for Buffalo Trace. And, there are a few silver linings we will discuss.
George T. Stagg is Many People’s First
Every fall and winter, hundreds of thousands of bourbon enthusiasts flock to hunt tens of thousands of bottles. So, it stands to reason that the majority of people will end the year empty-handed. It’s just simple supply and demand.
But, for many, George T. Stagg is their first score.
It makes sense. Out of all the allocated, once-a-year bottle releases, GTS has the greatest production volume. It’s the most distributed, and so you’ve got the best chance of scoring one.
However, imagine 2021 is the year you finally score that first Stagg bottle.
You gather your friends to share in the bounty. You all take photos with it. The long-anticipated moment where that first pour hits your lips, and… well… it’s terrible.
Imagine your disappointment.
So, Buffalo Trace has the ability to sell whatever they put on shelves. That much is indisputable. And, they could have put this release into some bottles and shipped them out, made their money, and dealt with some backlash for having a sub-par release, and life would have gone on. People would have still bought them just to have them on their shelf. People would have still lined up for it. And, people would have just dealt with it like they do with every not-so-good release of an allocated bottle.
You were saved the heartache, and that’s just the short of it. If the release really wasn’t that good, you’re better off waiting until it’s a release worth the hunt.
It May Not Be Gone Forever
Whiskey is a fickle thing. One year can make or break a whiskey. It can transform something subpar into something great, or take something great and make it into something subpar.
One thing Buffalo Trace loves to do is experiment. So much so that they release experimental bottles for their fans to buy and try. So, it stands to reason that this Stagg release might not be down the drain, literally or figuratively.
We absolutely could see these bottles released as one of these experimental releases in a few years. Maybe finished in another type of barrel?
That, or we have to remember George T. Stagg is a batched product. That means that it isn’t one single barrel, but a bunch of barrels married together.
So, if a few more years can change the profile into something that can be worked with, we could see particular barrels blended with other Stagg releases to increase yield for subsequent years.
These are the two most likely scenarios on how we could possibly see this Stagg release again.
If you want to hear more about this, we have Episode 27 of our podcast that you can listen to by clicking here.
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Greg Sinadinos started his spirits journey writing a whiskey periodical for Fine Tobacco NYC Magazine. He began answering review requests under a social media page he named “Whiskey Culture,” which quickly merged with Greg’s passion for connecting with others and his interest in history.
Today, Greg travels the country not just looking for great whiskey, but also exploring the history and individuals that the whiskey community is founded upon. He has authored “Whiskey History From Around The World” and is the host of “The Rickhouse” web series.