2023 saw the release of some genuinely fantastic bottles of American whiskey that fell in between the classic styles of bourbon, rye, and American single malt. As a result, American whiskey was one of the most exciting corners of the U.S. whiskey industry in 2023. The beauty of the American whiskey movement is the space allowed distillers and blenders to experiment and play with whiskey as a whole.
It’s exciting! Making it sort of the perfect time to rank the best American whiskeys of 2023.
For this list, I’ve compiled 30 great American whiskeys of 2023 that helped define American whiskey as a category. These whiskeys are often blends of straight bourbon and ryes, wheat whiskeys, malt and bourbon blends, and unique mash bills (recipes). While all of these American whiskeys are high in quality, I did rank them and since this category is so broad, there aren’t as many throughlines as with straight bourbon or American single malt.
The depth and breadth of the flavor profiles are what sets these whiskeys apart from each other. Because truly there is a lot of variation at play. But that just means that there are more options for you to find and enjoy throughout the next year!
30. Four Walls The Better Brown Made with a Blend of Irish Whiskeys and American Rye Whiskeys
Average Price: $29
The team from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenny) have released their first permanent mainstream whiskey. This new release is an Irish American whiskey made with American rye and Irish whiskey (a blend of malt and grain whiskeys). The whiskey is batched in the U.S. and proofed down to a very dive-bar-friendly 80-proof.
Nose: Hints of dried chilis, old leather, vanilla-laced honey, apple tarts, and caramel candy mingle on the nose.
Palate: The Irishness arrives in spades on the palate with bright apple orchard vibes next to flora honey, a hint of yellow straw, light nutshells, and a moment of sultanas just kissed with caramel.
Finish: The apple swings back around on the finish with a sense of fresh apple cider just kissed with cinnamon and caramel before fading toward leathery malt.
This whiskey is built to be a dive bar sipper and highball mixer. It nails that vibe perfectly with a nice and easygoing drinkability.
29. American Hell House Legend American Whiskey Finished With Oak Staves
Average Price: $49
This new whiskey from Lynyrd Skynyrd celebrates the cabin, Hell House, where the original band came together. The whiskey in the bottles is made and bottled by Bespoke Spirits out in California based on the current band’s multiple tastings and tinkering.
Nose: Rich caramel, boot leather, and allspice drive the nose toward soft raspberry ice cream and a sense of sweet honeydew and maybe even some caramelized watermelon.
Palate: More caramelized fruit leads to woody winter spices, a light sense of dried lavender, rosewater, and almost rich cotton candy just kissed with apple or pear.
Finish: The end is light but does lean into the sweetness of the cotton candy and the dryness of the florals with a slight oakiness and minerality.
This is far better than it has the right to be as a celeb-labeled sourced bottle. It’s soft and deep and will make for a good on the rocks sipper while you spin your Skynyrd vinyl.
28. Breckenridge Whiskey Finished in PX Naranja Cask
Average Price: $125
This is a batch of Breckenridge’s four to six-year-old whiskeys. Once batched, the whiskey is re-barreled into 20-year-old PX sherry casks that were used to macerate Seville oranges for eight months. The whiskey spends about three months finishing in those casks before batching, proofing, and bottling.
Nose: Candied peach and apricot lead to bitter chinotto orange with a deep sense of rum raisin and winter spice over lush vanilla.
Palate: That rum raisin really pops on the palate with a rich marmalade over cinnamon toast, fig pudding, and a touch of old spice barks and smudging sage.
Finish: The end leans hard into the chinotto with plenty of marmalade sweetness, winter spice, and cedar cigar humidors.
This is a great candidate for old fashioneds thanks to that orange vibe. It’s also bright enough to be a good icy summer sipper.
27. Bardstown Bourbon Company Collaborative Series Amaro Nonino A Blend of Straight Bourbon & Rye Whiskey Finished in Amara Nonino Barrels
Average Price: $160
This brand-new release from Bardstown Bourbon Company combines Kentucky and Indiana with Italian amaro. The whiskey is a blend of 12-year-old Kentucky bourbon with two Indiana rye whiskeys. Once batched, that whiskey was re-filled in Amaro Nonino Quintessentia Riserva barrels for a long 17-month rest before batching, a touch of proofing, and bottling.
Nose: The nose on this is like a walk through a candy store with rich caramel chews mingling with vanilla cakes, chocolate chews, brandied cherries covered in dark chocolate before dark stewed apples and pears cut with bright orange zest arrive with a whisper of … pumpkin pie.
Palate: Roasting herbs pop on the palate with hints of absinth and caraway-encrusted rye bread before pancake syrup leads back to caramel and honey sweetness with a hint of vanilla pound cake.
Finish: The end circles back around to the botanicals and herbs with a deep sense of oily rosemary thyme next to star anise, allspice, and clove over this whisper of dried lavender and chamomile.
This is probably the most “acquired taste” whiskey on the list. That said, this will work wonders in a Sazerac or boulevardier thanks to that deep and botanical amaro vibe.
26. Keeper’s Heart Whiskey Irish + American Single Barrel Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels
Average Price: $59
This new release from Keeper’s Heart up in Minnesota blends Irish whiskey with American Rye. Once batched, that whiskey was re-barreled into a maple syrup barrel for another rest. Once that barrel hit the right notes, it was bottled as-is with a hint of proofing water.
Nose: Rich vanilla custard with a hint of cotton candy drives the nose toward pecan waffles with salted butter and real maple syrup next to hints of apple fritters, nutty fruit cake, and a touch of leathery tobacco.
Palate: The taste opens with creme brûlée swimming in more maple syrup as deep and rich vanilla tobacco leads to softer notes of almond, malted chocolate, and a hint of winter spice mixes.
Finish: The vanilla creaminess and spices meld on the finish with a touch of spiced warm apple cider, soft almond, and mincemeat pies all grounded by rich and real maple syrup sweetness that nearly takes on a rock candy vibe.
This is dessert in a glass. Pour one over a big rock or into your favorite cocktail after a big holiday meal.
25. Wyoming Whiskey Outryder American Straight Whiskey
Average Price: $81
This whiskey from Wymonig is a blend of an “almost” straight rye whiskey with a Wyoming Whiskey’s high-rye bourbon. That whiskey is just touched with local water before bottling.
Nose: Rich sourdough rye bread with a hint of caraway and dill leads to beeswax and orange rinds with a whisper of Black Forest cake on the nose.
Palate: The chocolate from that cake drives the palate as a whisper of taco seasoning leads to brown butter and this fleeting sense of orange creamsicle.
Finish: Pecan waffles, butter, and maple syrup drive the finish toward more dark spice and a touch of apple fritter with that creamy orange lurking beneath it all.
This is one of the best releases from Wyoming Whiskey. The orange creamsicle vibe is very reminiscent of youthful summers with a nice rye kick, making this one perfect for whiskey-forward cocktails all summer long.
24. Chicken Cock Double Oak Kentucky Whiskey
Average Price: $99
This new release from Chicken Cock (yes, yes, get your laughs out) is a new mix. The blend in the bottle is a mix of eight-year-old Kentucky whiskeys that have been double-barreled, meaning that they were aged in new American oak for a spell and then were re-barreled in new new American oak barrels. This adds an extra layer of fresh and vibrant wood sugars to the mix, really amping up the flavor profile of the wood.
Nose: Dark caramel opens the nose before diving into creamy espresso, dark chocolate-dipped cherry and raspberry, and a mild sense of really fancy Almond Joy.
Palate: Whiskey-soaked red berries and vanilla beans drive the palate before ice cream waffle cones, cherry ice cream, and holiday cakes full of winter spice, roasted nuts, and toasted coconut thrive on the taste.
Finish: The creaminess amps up the finish with a sense of toffee pudding and cinnamon ice cream with a sense of berry compote spiked with allspice and clove over a mild sense of pipe tobacco and cedar bark.
This is a bourbon-adjacent pour that has deep and lush creaminess. It’s perfect for mixing whiskey-forward cocktails any ol’ time of year.
23. Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey Barrel Proof Batch: B923
Average Price: $64
The second edition of Bernheim Wheat Whiskey Barrel Proof is made with a mash bill of 51% winter wheat, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley. That whiskey was then left to age for seven to nine years before prime barrels were chosen for batching. Once batched, the whiskey went into the bottle 100% as-is at cask strength.
Nose: Fresh loaves of whole grain bread vibe with rich oaky winter pieces on the nose before soft vanilla cake, hints of dry grass, old leather tobacco pouches, and a touch of dried orange round things out.
Palate: Rich buttery toffee drives the palate toward clove-laced honey next to dry orange oils, salted caramel, rum raisin, and hints of cedar bark braided with smudging sage and dry tobacco.
Finish: Piney honey and salted caramel attach to the tobacco as dry straw and back porch wicker lead to a sense of dry winter spice and soft caramel candy corn.
This is an earthy and sharp whiskey that flutters toward bourbon throughout the profile, making this a great choice for when you want to change up your bourbon routine.
22. Old Elk Cigar Cut Island Blend Straight Whiskies Finished in Port, Sauternes, Sherry, and Rum Barrels
Average Price: $129
This new blend from Old Elk mixes their six-year-old high-malt bourbon with six-year-old Old Elk rye and six-year-old Old Elk wheat whiskey. That straight whiskey was then finished in a combination of port, sauternes, sherry, and rum barrels before batching and then bottling as-is.
Nose: Honey cut with cinnamon sticks and clove buds drives the nose towards bruised peaches and pureed apricot over a hint of orange that’s just kissed with salt and black pepper.
Palate: Some more honey touches the tip of your tongue as a sense of tangerines and honeydew leads to more of that black pepper with a light sense of woody winter spice and vanilla oils.
Finish: A dash of fresh dragonfruit arrives late and accents the black pepper sharpness with a deep but fresh fruitness cut with more dark winter spice and a touch of rummy funkiness.
This is a fruit bomb that’ll work wonderfully with citrus-forward cocktails. It also works as a sipper over rocks if you’re looking for deep fruitiness in your whiskey.
21. Three Chord Cask-Finished Bourbon & Corn Whiskey Finished in Honey & Toasted Barrels
Average Price: $59
This is from a wide-ranging whiskey brand created by Neil Giraldo (Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame guitarist and producer behind Pat Bantar and Rick Springfield’s biggest hits). The whiskey in this expression is hewn from a high-rye five-year-old MGP bourbon, a standard six-year-old MGP bourbon, and an eight-year-old Kentucky corn whiskey. Those barrels are batched and the whiskey is re-barrelled into toasted barrels from ISC and Speyside cooperages for three months. Then those barrels are batched and that whiskey is then re-barreled once more into Fern Valley Farms honey casks for one final month of mellowing.
Nose: This has a nice spiciness to the nose that leans into cedar and smudging sage with a hint of nasturtiums, creamy honey, and gingerbread cookies.
Palate: The mouthfeel is lush with a nice layering of corncake with honey, vanilla malt with a cherry on top, and bold winter spice barks and botanicals with a hint of burnt orange and red chili pepper.
Finish: The spice ramps up on the end with a good Kentucky hug (more a buzz than a burn) next to light white grits cut with butter, honey, and caramel with a hint of orchard fruit lurking behind it all.
This is classically woody and spicy with a nice balance of soft creaminess. Overall, this is an everyday sipper over ice that works in any cocktail application.
20. Whiskey Jypsi Legacy: Vol. 001
Average Price: $199
This new whiskey is from country star Eric Chruch. The whiskey in the bottle is a blend of American whiskeys. 70% is a corn-fueled Indiana bourbon that’s at least eight years old. 21% is a Canadian rye that’s 20 years old. And 9% is an American single malt that’s four years old.
Nose: There’s a hint of old dried roses on the nose that leads to caramel-crusted doughnuts dusted with cinnamon next to a whisper of dried cranberry and turkey roasting herbs.
Palate: The cranberry leans toward dried cherry dipped in chocolate with a dash of woody baking spices over honey-dipped kindling with a dash of fresh pipe tobacco.
Finish: That pipe tobacco takes in the tart red cherries and woody spice as a lush vanilla base with rich caramel and soft nuttiness slowly warms your palate with sharp winter spice barks and burnt orange.
This is a very dialed whiskey with super succinct flavor notes that shine, especially over a big ice cube. The cherry spice and woody tobacco with a hint of chocolate make this a great candidate for old fashioneds or Manhattans.
19. J. Rieger & Co. 2023 Monogram Whiskey Kansas City Whiskey Solera Reserve
Average Price: $124
This whiskey is made with Rieger’s classic Kansas City blended whiskey, which is a mix of straight bourbon, straight rye, and light corn whiskey. Once batched, that whiskey is re-barreled into 10 huge Oloroso sherry butts that held 15-year-old Oloroso Especial and were 50 to 100 years old when shipped to Kansas.
Nose: French toast leads to rich maple syrup on the nose before veering into candied orange, grilled peach, old cedar bark, and rich pipe tobacco with a sense of salted buttercream.
Palate: Pecan pies and cream soda drive the palate toward Black Forest cake, spiced winter nut cakes, rum raisin, and vanilla cookies with a hint of almond oil and fig.
Finish: The end leans into the winter cake of it all with tons of spice, brandy-soaked fruits, and nuts next to old cedar and tobacco braided together in an old leather pouch.
This is just good damn whiskey with a nice dessert vibe. Pour one of these after a big holiday meal and you’ll be all set.
18. The Beverly Reserve Barrel Strength American Whiskey Batch 001
Average Price: $79
This new release from The Beverly is a limited edition small batch at barrel strength. The blend in the bottle is 60% straight bourbon from Iowa and 40% Indiana rye. Those barrels were batched and bottled at Cedar Ridge in Iown for The Beverly, yielding only 550 bottles.
Nose: Pecan waffles with plenty of butter, vanilla, and caramel open the nose toward maple syrup, cinnamon sticks, red chili pepper, and toasted marshmallows.
Palate: The pecans take on a cookie vibe on the palate as brown butter and rum raisin mingle with cinnamon syrup cut with orange and a whisper of chocolate.
Finish: That cinnamon and orange get buttery and lush with a sense of nut cake covered in caramel drizzle with a flake of salt and tobacco before a warming sense of chili arrives on the very end.
This feels like Christmas in a glass with a great depth for sippability (especially over a big rock). But don’t sleep on this one as a cocktail base. Use it in your favorite whiskey-forward cocktails, especially during the winter months.
17. Bardstown Bourbon Company Collaborative Series Carter Cellars A Blend of American Straight Whiskies Finished in Carter Cellars Napa Cabernet Barrels
Average Price: $159
This new release from Bardstown Bourbon Company is a custom blend of bourbon (one 17-year-old and one 12-year-old) and rye. Once batched, that whiskey was then re-barreled into 10 Carter Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet barrels and left to mellow for 14 more months. Those barrels were then batched and the whiskey was bottled 100% as-is.
Nose: Blackberry crumble cut with plenty of cinnamon and allspice leads the nose toward dark and well-worn leather over pecan shells, vanilla malts, and hints of lavender flowers.
Palate: That blackberry and pecan vibe amp up the palate as rich and luscious vanilla buttercream makes space for old oak staves and dry espresso bean-laced tobacco rolled with cedar bark.
Finish: The end leans into the wood with a hint of mulled wine and Christmas spice cakes before the tobacco and cedar rise on the very end.
This is a bright and beautiful whiskey that works wonderfully as a food-pairing pour with a big meal with big flavors.
16. Chattanooga Whiskey Founder’s 11th Anniversary Blend A Blend of Straight Whiskeys
Average Price: $59
This very limited edition whiskey is made from a blend of Chattanooga’s own whiskey blended with classic whiskey from MGP of Indiana. All the barrels are over two years old (young by a lot of people’s “standards”) and barrelled in toasted and charred oak. Those barrels were batched (using nine to 11 barrels at a time) and that whiskey was then added to Chattanooga’s solera vat (where whiskey is always added before the old wooden vat is fully emptied). That whiskey was then lightly proofed and bottled as-is otherwise.
Nose: Dark chocolate and nutty holiday cakes dance on the palate with a sense of spiced plum jam next to soft vanilla pudding that slowly morphs into fancy cream soda.
Palate: A hint of waffle cone and walnut salted caramel ice cream drives the palate a soft sense of oak and holiday spice barks with a hint of stewed apple/pear in the background.
Finish: The orchard fruit layers into spiced chewy tobacco with a sense of plumminess that’s part holiday cake and part creamy pudding.
If you’re looking for the perfect pour to wash down that mincemeat pie this holiday season, this is the whiskey to pour.
15. Middle West Double Cask Collection Oloroso Wheat Whiskey
Average Price: $99
This limited edition release from Ohio’s Middle West is all about the locally-grown red winter wheat in the mash bill (recipe). That wheaty beer is distilled and then loaded into new American oak where it rests for five years. Those barrels are batched and that whiskey goes into Spanish Oloroso sherry casks before batching and proofing.
Nose: Classic bourbon notes of rich vanilla and spiced oak lead the nose toward rich and creamy eggnog with plenty of allspice and nutmeg next to cinnamon sticks dipped in warm apple cider.
Palate: Lush marzipan dipped in salted dark chocolate and rolled in dried dark cherries vibe with brandy-soaked prunes and dates next to subtle hints of burnt orange and old oak.
Finish: Those brandy-soaked raisins drive the finish toward an end brimming with dark chocolate, dark cherry, and dark spice vibes.
This is just nice and so easygoing while delivering deep and wintry flavor notes. It feels like a warm blanket next to a crackling fire.
14. Woodford Reserve Toasted Oak Four Grain
Average Price: $59
The new Distillery Series from Woodford Reserve just dropped. This year’s release is a blend of Woodford’s rye, bourbon, wheat, and malt whiskeys. Once batched, that blend was re-barreled in brand-new toasted oak barrels for another rest.
Nose: Rich butterscotch is countered by moist marzipan on the nose with a sense of cedar kindling, fresh tobacco, and rich honeycomb with. a sense of almost earthy brown sugar.
Palate: Cinnamon bark and clove buds drive the palate toward toffee and maple syrup with a sense of crisp apples and dark cherries next to light touches of orange, espresso, and grassy orchards.
Finish: The end leans into fresh firewood with a nice sense of sweet caramel sauce, fresh marzipan, and cinnamon holiday cakes with a hint of eggnog on the back end.
This balances dark winter spice and bright summer sweetness so well. It’s a fun ride that works however and whenever you want to sip it.
13. Redwood Empire Lost Monarch Blend of Straight Whiskeys Cask Strength
Average Price: $70
This California whiskey is a blend of two whiskeys that range from three to 12 years old. The base is a rye mash of 94% rye, 5% malted barley, and a mere 1% wheat mixed with a bourbon mash of 74% corn, 20% raw rye, 4.5% malted barley, and 1.5% wheat. Once blended, that whiskey goes into the bottle at cask strength with no fussing whatsoever.
Nose: There’s a bold nose full of old boot leather, dried chanterelles, cedar bark, a whisper of cumin and chili powder, and creamy yet sharp mint chocolate ice cream.
Palate: The palate opens with a cherry bomb that’s tempered by mild ABV warmth and buzzing before spiced apricot jam arrives with a soft scone, creamed butter, and bright Turkish Delights on the mid-palate.
Finish: Those soft and fruity candies give way to meaty dates and rum-soaked raisins with a hint of vanilla candy, apple cider tobacco, and a flutter of white pepper.
This year’s Redwood Empire batch dialed in this whiskey even more, giving it a lovely sipability over rocks and gorgeous mixability into your favorite whiskey-forward cocktails.
12. High West The Prisoner’s Share A Blend of Straight Whiskeys
Average Price: $175
This is blended whiskey made from straight whiskeys (mostly ryes and bourbons) that are sent out to Utah for batching. Once blended, those whiskeys are then re-barreled into The Prisoner Red Blend wine barrels for a final, high-altitude rest. Finally, the barrels are batched, just kissed with water, and bottled.
Nose: This has a fruity nose that’s bright and tart with black currants, pomegranate, and sour cherry next to darker dried fruits — prunes, dates, figs — over fermented honey, gingerbread, and a hint of dried roses and maybe some cherry blossom before cedar pops in.
Palate: The palate leans into the honey and dark dried fruits before veering into apricot jams, scones, and dark orange slices that are damn near juicy with a hint of black pepper.
Finish: The end has a coconut cream pie vibe that’s countered by oaky tobacco with a twinge of burnt orange.
This year’s Prisoner’s Batch is another must-have if you’re a fan of High West. The whiskey is nuanced and approachable while offering a deep profile that will reward patience as a slow sipper. Take your time to add water and return to the nose and palate more than once to find all the hidden notes of this one.
11. Michter’s Limited Release US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Kentucky Sour Mash Whiskey
Average Price: $286
This release takes Michter’s signature Kentucky Sour Mash — which doesn’t have enough corn or rye to be either bourbon or rye whiskey — and finishes it in toasted barrels. In this case, those barrels are first air-dried for 18 months and then lightly toasted barrel before the whiskey is filled in. Finally, the booze is batched and bottled with a good dose of that Kentucky water.
Nose: There’s a soft sense of a pile of firewood cut from an old fruit orchard next to dark chocolate oranges with a flake of salt and a drop of honey with a hint of vanilla cake frosted with apple cinnamon butter frosting.
Palate: The palate has a lightly smoked cherry vibe next to clove and allspice with a sense of lush and creamy eggnog and vanilla-cherry tobacco stuffed in a slightly pitchy pine box.
Finish: The end leans into the cherry tobacco with a layer of mild chili spice and more soft and sweet orchard firewood.
This year’s Toasted Sour Mash is another “acquired taste” whiskey that balances dark and deep woodiness with soft and lush stewed fruits and creamy orange/vanilla. Think of roasting marshmallows next to a backyard campfire and then smashing those marshmallows into a cherry pie and… you’ll get the gist.
10. Blackened Cask Strength A Blend of Straight Whiskeys Finished in Black Brandy Casks
Average Price: $80
This new line from Metallica’s Blackened is all about the cask-strength versions of their now-classic “sonically-enhanced” blend of straight whiskeys. In this case, the blend is a mix of bourbon and rye that are batched and re-barrelled in black brandy casks that are blasted with, you guessed, Metallica tunes during the finishing maturation. Finally, those barrels are batched and bottled as-is at barrel strength.
Nose: Hints of back porch wicker on a sunny day under a cedar tree mingles with dark chocolate with a hint of salt layered with dried cherry and toasted coconut next to salted caramel lattes.
Palate: Rich bourbon vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone leads to a sugary berry syrup with a hint of cinnamon and clove on the light palate.
Finish: Cinnamon-spiced vanilla tobacco rounds out the finish with a nice balance of berry ice cream and spiced pancakes with a touch of cedar sneaking back in.
Throw on your favorite Metallica album, turn it up to 11, and sip on this one as you bang your head.
9. Penelope American Light Whiskey Aged 15 Years
Average Price: $99
This unique release from Penelope is “light” in the sense of aging, not like a “light” beer. This is all about the barrel having no char which is classified as “light whiskey.” Anyway, this expression is a blend of MGP whiskeys (pretty much the only distillery making light whiskey) that’s left at a very high proof before bottling as-is.
Nose: This is a wild card with familiar notes of pancake batter with plenty of vanilla, caramel corn balls, sweet apple tarts, and a mild dose of very soft yet resinous pine.
Palate: The palate moves from creamy vanilla pie toward apple crumble with plenty of butter and brown sugar, cinnamon, and tartness before a layer of soft floral citrus arrives.
Finish: The finish feels like vanilla cupcakes frosted with an eggnog frosting with plenty of powdered sugar everywhere next to a woody yet subtle spice mix.
This new version of Penelope’s Light Whiskey is a beautiful example of a style we rarely get to see. There’s a nice familiarity at play that then leads down new paths that feel fresh and unique. Add a little ice or water to let this bloom in the glass, you’ll be rewarded with a super-deep flavor profile.
8. Barrell Craft Spirits Private Release Islay Cask Finish
Average Price: $99
This new single-barrel release from Barrell Craft Spirits via ReserveBar is a blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys. Once batched, that whiskey went into a single barrel from Islay that held peated single malt whisky over in Scotland for years. That barrel was then selected by the team at ReserveBar and bottled 100% as-is.
Nose: The nose leans into smoked black pepper with a hint of salted caramel next to coconut nut clusters, demerara syrup, and a twinge of dried smoked cherry.
Palate: There’s an earthiness to the palate that’s almost mossy in a dry way next to more smoked cherry and wet brown sugar with a twinge of marzipan just kissed with dark orange.
Finish: The nuttiness drives the dry finish toward very thin whisps of smoked dark fruit and winter spice barks.
Islay and American whiskey never tasted so good. If you’re a fan of peated malt and want to sneak some into your American whiskey, then this is a must-have. It’ll be exactly what you want on the front and then take you on a wildly fun journey through the rest of the profile.
7. Whiskey War Double Double A Blend of Straight Whiskeys
Average Price: $99
This Ohio whiskey is hewn from a rye-heavy mash bill. That spicy juice is then rested in new American oak for a spell before being vatted and re-barreled into another brand-new American oak barrel, all adding up to five years of mellowing. Those barrels are then batched and bottled as-is.
Nose: There’s a sweet sense of salted caramel on the nose that gives way to dried chili pepper, old wet leather sheets, pink peppercorns, and a hint of burnt orange rinds over cider-soaked cinnamon bark and raw waffle batter with a whisper of pecan.
Palate: The palate hits that burnt orange and caramel note harder as minor keys of winter spice, fruit cake, and rum raisin darken the taste.
Finish: The end has a sense of pitchy firewood and sweet oak next to smudging sage and spearmint-chocolate tobacco just dusted with lemon pepper from the 90s.
This whiskey gets better and better every year (and it started pretty damn awesome). Drink this however you like to drink your whiskey, folks.
6. Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau Doisy Daene A Blend Of Straight Whiskeys Finished In Sauternes Barrels And Toasted Oak Barrels
Average Price: $159
This collab is a blend of 10-year-old Kentucky bourbon with six-year-old Indiana rye (with a high-corn mash bill). Those whiskeys were batched and then re-barreled into Chateau Doisy Daene Sauternes barrels for another seven months of aging before another batching session. Then that whiskey was re-barreled again into a new toasted oak barrel for a final four months before batching and bottling as-is.
Nose: Rum raisin and black-tea-soaked dates drive the nose toward bitter marmalade, brandy-soaked marzipan, cinnamon-laced apple cider, and creamed honey with a fleeting sense of white wildflowers in the summer.
Palate: Semi-fermented raisins fresh off the vine open the palate toward caramel candies cut with freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg next to soft vanilla pound cake drizzled with toffee cut with orange and salt.
Finish: The finish leans gently toward old oak staves in a sunny grape orchard with a light sense of orange blossom, Earl Grey tea, and fresh honeycomb with a nice vanilla lush underbelly.
Okay, this is where we get into truly amazing whiskeys. This pour is outstanding, unique, and takes you places you’d never expect (in the best possible way). This is a slow sipper that deserves your time and patience as you sip and nose and find all those hidden crooks and crannies.
5. Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 2nd Edition Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey Aged 20 Years
Average Price: $289
The 2nd edition of Heaven Hill’s Heritage Collection asks what budget brand Mellow Corn would taste like when left alone for 20 years and treated like an elite whiskey. The results from the mash of 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye ended up in 110 barrels back in October 2002. After 20 long years in Heaven Hill’s famed Rickhouse 1K, they were batched and bottled.
Nose: There’s a mix of sweet white grits cut with salted caramel and old oak on the nose next to a slight nuttiness with a hint of sweetgrass dipped in Caro Syrup.
Palate: That dry grassy nature continues on the palate as burnt orange and dry nuts balance out next to sweet dry white hominy and a hint of vanilla pods.
Finish: The end leans into the burnt orange and nuttiness with a creamy edge and a mild sense of powdered winter spices.
Few of us thought we’d ever get a 20-year-old version of Heaven Hill’s budget Mellow Corn whiskey. Here we are and it’s great. This is a pour that exceeds all expectations of corn whiskey and delivers truly one of the most nuanced sipping experiences of the year.
4. Shenk’s Homestead Kentucky Sour Mash Whiskey Small Batch 2023 Release
Average Price: $179
This whiskey is made with a fair amount of rye whiskey over a bit of bourbon in a traditional sour mash style. 2023’s release varied with the use of malted rye in the mash bill, adding an extra layer of malty depth. The whiskey was then aged in specially made toasted French oak that spent 24 months seasoning in France before they were made with barrels that spent 18 months air-drying in Kentucky before they were coppered. The barrels were all batched and bottled with just a touch of Kentucky limestone water.
Nose: Soft boot leather, dried and candied orange, spiced Christmas cake, fresh vanilla beans, sultanas, and a hint of fresh firewood round out the nose with a hint of almost sweet oak char and simmering molasses cut with almond kissed with dark citrus oils.
Palate: The palate has a nice sweet spiciness like a box of Red Hots next to allspice, clove, and orange with rummy raisins, nutmeg-heavy eggnog, and a whisper of oily espresso bean sneaking in late before a bold yet measured winter spice bark sharpness arrives.
Finish: The end marries the orange oils to soft cedar notes with a woody spiciness next to soft notes of sweet cinnamon, stewed plums, minced meat pies, and brandied cherries layered with chewy tobacco leaves over a lush and creamy finish.
This is probably the best overall sipper on the list. It’s also probably the best cocktail base too. It’s versatile but so dialed that you can play dealer’s choice with it.
3. Little Book Chapter 07: Retrospect
Average Price: $149
You know it’s fall whiskey season when Freddie Noe drops a new Little Book. Chapter 7 is a big blend of mostly bourbon and rye barrels with a single malt (finished in applewood smoked barrels) thrown in for good measure. The bourbons in the batch are four to 18 years old while the ryes are four to 10 years old. The final batch is bottled 100% as-is.
Nose: Clove-studded oranges open the nose with a bold sense of salted caramel, dark chocolate sauce, floral honey, and old vanilla cookies just kissed with almond oils and confectioner’s sugar before hitting light notes of old earthy cellars full of old firewood and leather boots.
Palate: That floral honey opens the palate with a soft vanilla cake covered in rich buttercream amped with marzipan and salted toffee before chili-laced chocolate tobacco drives the whole taste back toward earthiness and whiskey-worn oak.
Finish: The end has a soft warmth that slowly builds with winter spice barks, clove-spiked mulled wine, black-tea-soaked dates, rum raisin, and candied orange peels and cherries with a touch of malted chocolate cookies and vanilla tobacco rolled with smudging sage and dry cedar bark.
This might be the best Little Book from Beam to date. It’s a deeply satisfying pour of whiskey that keeps giving you more every time you return to it. Plus, it’s delicious.
2. Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash 2022
Average Price: $7,000 (MSRP)
The fourth ever Michter’s Celebration release — and the first one since 2019 — is finally here. The bottle was slightly delayed, making it a February 2023 release this time around. This American whiskey is a collaboration between Michter’s Master Distiller Dan McKee and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson. The duo chose seven whiskeys for this special blend that ranged from twelve to thirty-plus years old. Those barrels were batched and bottled without any cutting with water, creating only 328 bottles for the whole world.
Nose: The nose subtly opens with a sense of dark chocolate cut with brown butter, Saigon cinnamon bark, and a light note of crème brûlée made with just a drop of cognac.
Palate: That boozy vanilla opens the luxurious palate toward a dusting of winter spices — clove, anise, nutmeg — next to stewed peached and burnt orange over singed marshmallows, old smoldering hickory, and orchards full of falling leaves next to whisper of creamy black cherry and candied pecans.
Finish: Those pecans meld with woody maple syrup, more cinnamon bark, orange-studded cloves, and a sense of bushels of orchard fruits mixed with nuts and dried fruits in an old wooden basket and wrapped with thick old twine and leather next to a spiced chocolate cherry tobacco leaf dropped in the middle of it all.
This is an excellent — albeit agonizingly fleeting — pour of American whiskey. This is the ultimate sipper that pulls off that magic trick of being easygoing and incredibly deep at the same time. The finish on this one just keeps going and going, making you want to start all over again — like a little kid running back to the back of the line for the rollercoaster to ride it for the umpteenth time.
1. Bardstown Bourbon Company Collaborative Series Foursquare Blend of Straight Whiskies Finished in Foursquare Rum Barrels
Average Price: $159
This is a much-sought-after blend from Kentucky darling Bardstown Bourbon Company. The blend in this case is a mix of seven-year-old Indiana straight rye with a mash bill of 51% rye, 45% corn, and 4% malted barley blended with a 17-year-old Tennessee straight bourbon with a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. Once those barrels are batched, the whiskey is re-barreled in Foursquare rum barrels for an additional 23-month rest.
Nose: Woody banana and rich marzipan pop on the nose with a deep and sharp clove, anise, and cinnamon vibe next to peanut butter clusters dusted with toasted coconut, burnt orange zest, and sea salt with this whisper of rum-soaked raisins and old oak in the background.
Palate: The rye funkiness drives the rummy oak tannins towards a soft sticky toffee pudding with rich toffee, mild vanilla oils, and a sense of spiced mincemeat pie.
Finish: The finish is lush and silken with a sense of fresh and warm vanilla pods over warm grog with a handful of dark and woody winter spices countered by luxurious and buttery salted caramel with a fleeting hint of smoldering marshmallow.
This is a whiskey that’ll make you say, “WOW!” from the moment its essence hits your senses. This is a masterpiece sipper and a highwater mark for Bardstown Bourbon Company’s team, making this one of the best whiskeys of 2023.