May 28, 2020
Buffalo Trace’s Stagg Jr and Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 have an interesting connection: they are distant cousins. While Bardstown Bourbon Company will never admit it (non-disclosure agreements), research shows that they source 12 year old bourbon from Barton (aka 1792) as 39% of the Discovery Series #2 blend, while Stagg Jr is made by Buffalo Trace. Guess what – Sazerac owns both Barton 1792 and Buffalo Trace, so there’s the Sazerac connection between these two whiskeys.
Stagg Jr and Discovery Series #2 are both cask strength bourbons from Kentucky-based distilleries, but the differences mostly end there. Buffalo Trace makes everything in-house, while Bardstown Bourbon Company sources Kentucky bourbons for Discovery #2 (details here in my review). While Bardstown Bourbon Company is distilling and aging their own stocks, as of May 2020 it’s all less than 4 years old, so sourcing is the only way to get older bourbon. So even with the familial connection in these bourbons, the distilleries themselves couldn’t be more different in history, heritage, and inventory.
I’m excited as ever to bring another entrant into the arena to face Stagg Jr and find out how different these cask strength bourbons are (or not) in my fifth Stagg Jr comparison. Let’s find out more about these cousins in this Stagg Jr vs Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 comparison.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each cask strength bourbon.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but Stagg Jr (batch 7) and Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 are dramatically different bourbons. As always, Stagg Jr is surprisingly rich, bright, vibrant, sweet, fruity, and tropical; and I somehow keep discovering new scents (e.g., strawberry fields ice cream), a testament to how complex it. Discovery Series #2 is a dark and oaky bourbon that flexes its age (56% of the blend is 12 or 14 years old) with all that toasted sugar, old oak, apple, cinnamon, and cocoa with subtle fruit, rye, grass, and nuts.
As I continue to do these comparisons, I’m realizing that Stagg Jr is very different from other cask strength bourbons I’ve had. Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 has more in common with Four Roses OESK single barrels, Woodford Batch Proof, and 9+ year old MGP. This all highlights the wonderful variety within bourbon, as restrictive as the rules are at times.
Both are clearly excellent and I really can’t say that one is better than the other, so yet again I’m calling a draw. Discovery Series #2 is wonderful, but the $130 price is steep, although I don’t regret the purchase. Stagg Jr on the other hand suffers from Buffalo Trace mania, making it challenging to find at $50-60 MSRP and often more difficult to find than Discovery Series #2. Here’s the thing though – if you can find and afford them, you should make room for both on your shelf.