Booker’s, from Jim Beam, and Stagg Jr, from Buffalo Trace, are two of the longer running and more popular cask strength bourbons, both known for intense flavors and melt your mouth levels of heat. While Booker’s is generally available (released 4x a year), Stagg Jr (released 2x a year) is more difficult to find, in part because of the constant fervor around Buffalo Trace bourbons. Even though both bourbons are made from similar low-rye mash bills, the liquid that flows out of these bottles have noticeable differences that make them imperfect substitutes. Let’s dive into this Booker’s vs Stagg Jr comparison to find out how these two very popular cask strength bourbons compare.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each bourbon.
How to Read the Chart
Booker’s is in blue, and Stagg Jr is in orange. The center of the circle indicates none of a trait. Further out the line indicates a stronger presence of that trait.
The scale (from inside to out):
While there are some noticeable similarities on paper, Stagg Jr and Booker’s grow up to be quite different. Booker’s dead giveaway is its more prominent nutty, grassy, herbal, and slightly sourdough-y scents and flavors, often referred to as the “Beam Funk”. For better or worse, that’s a Jim Beam signature trait, and I personally like it a lot. It also carries more noticeable roasted corn in the nose.
Stagg Jr is much more brown sugar and fruit forward with cherries, peaches, and oranges. It’s also woodier and spicier, and is a bit less herbal and floral than Booker’s. Although Booker’s has some of the same underlying dried orange and cherry notes, it just doesn’t come off quite as densely sweet. Both definitely have enough heat to rough-up your palate and bully the uninitiated, including me at times.
I recommend both bourbons, but in this Booker’s vs Stagg Jr comparison, Stagg Jr gets the edge because of its more fruit forward traits and greater overall complexity and depth. But if you prefer nuttier bourbons, Booker’s is the better pick.