George T. Stagg Bourbon Will Return in 2022

The barrel-proof whiskey, made by Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, was missing from shelves last year because of quality issues.

A favorite bourbon among collectors is returning to store shelves.Credit…Buffalo Trace

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By Robert Simonson

George T. Stagg, a sought-after Kentucky bourbon whose annual release is an event among aficionados, is returning for 2022, after a two-year absence.

There was no 2021 release for George T. Stagg, a barrel-proof, unfiltered bourbon, because Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky., did not consider the barrels of whiskey it put down for the purpose in 2006 to be up to the usual standard.

“It just didn’t look right,” Drew Mayville, the master blender at Buffalo Trace, said last year. “It didn’t match the taste profile we expect from Stagg.”

This year, however, the bourbon made the grade.

“I really liked it this year,” said Mr. Mayville, calling the bourbon “really rich.” It’s also stronger than it has been in recent years, he said. The 2022 Stagg will have a hefty proof at 138.7 (about 69 percent alcohol), its highest since 2016. The bottles will ship to distributors next month.

Mr. Mayville said the troublesome 2006 barrels are still aging, but he expects they will be used somewhere down the line.

Stagg is part of Buffalo Trace’s “Antique Collection” of rare and sought-after whiskeys, which are released annually to much fanfare and are extremely difficult to obtain.

George T. Stagg, which is named after a 19th-century whiskey pioneer, was introduced by Buffalo Trace in 2002, when overproof bourbons were not the common sight they are today on liquor-store shelves and in bars. The original release sold for $40, a high price for bourbon at the time. Today, bottles go for many times the listed retail price of $99.

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