The proverbial powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg, comes in at a lower 116.9 proof this year. This is the lowest proof in this whiskey’s history. Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley cites barrels located on the lower warehouse floors as the reason. “Many of the barrels for this year’s Stagg composite were taken from the first floor of the warehouse. The first floor is cooler with higher humidity levels, therefore the alcohol evaporates faster than the water.” The taste, however, is still what Stagg fans can expect, vanilla and toasted oak with a floral undertone, followed by a long finish of cherries, coffee and black pepper. Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon have won many top awards, including last year’s release capturing the Chairman’s Trophy at the Ultimate Spirits Competition. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2004. Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses C, H, I, K, and Q. The evaporation loss for this year’s batch was 56%, a bit higher than last year’s release.