The search for the best bourbon to drink feels never-ending. Every season, there are so many new options to consider that the whole endeavor can seem incredibly overwhelming. There are just… so… many… bourbons… on… shelves these days that we all need a little help figuring out what to actually reach for. Following the spirits award circuit is a great way to parse it all.
Case in point, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition just announced their “best in class” and “best overall” spirits, and there’s a doozy bourbon at the top of the heap. This year’s Best Overall Bourbon is Augusta Distillery Buckner’s Aged 13 Years Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon. And I totally get it if you’re all like, “Huh?” or “Who?” right now. Augusta Distillery is a tiny operation on the Ohio River in Northeastern Kentucky. To put it in perspective, Buckner’s 13 Year winning the whole SFWSC crown is like a tiny arthouse film beating out the biggest studio films at the Oscars for best picture (it used to happen!).
Below, I’m going to break down the bottle that was awarded “Best Overall Bourbon” for 2023. I’ve tasted the bottle as a judge in a double-blind tasting and as a finalist judge in another double-blind tasting at SFWSC (where I was a judge). Then, I tasted it again today, knowing what it is and the acclaim it had been awarded. So let’s dive in fast because this bottle isn’t going to be available much longer with all this new hype around it.
Augusta Distillery Buckner’s Aged 13 Years Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
ABV: 60% (varies)
Average Price: $199
This is a very niche brand out in rural Kentucky that’s sourcing old barrels. The whiskey in the bottle is a Kentucky straight bourbon that rested for 13 years before it was bottled completely as-is both unfiltered and at cask strength.
Nose: The nose opens with a sense of old barrel houses full of sweet and spice bourbon next to a gentle moment of creamy vanilla honey with old corn husks stuffed in the honey which is poured over spiced winter nut breads with a hint of butteriness and earthy nutshells.
Palate: The clove, allspice, and anise of the nut bread amp up the buttery palate with a sense of Earl Grey tea leaves, salted caramel, and mocha-heavy espresso beans next to a light marzipan moistness and hints of burnt orange next to old dry black cherry bark.
Finish: The end lingers for a while as the marzipan and orchard barks fade toward sharp eggnog spices and soft creaminess before the vanilla creamed honey slathers old oak staves with a good dose of earthy fall vibes kind of like a forest floor on a frosty day.
This a quintessential sipper. It’s deep and welcoming while feeling 100% classic and nostalgic. I like to add a drop of water or an ice cube to let it bloom in the glass a little, as it’ll take on a deep creaminess and hint of dry savory herbs. All of this is to say… this is a very good pour of whiskey, folks.
Where To Buy:
You can still find this at the moment. You can get it in Ohio and Kentucky at liquor stores for around $200 per bottle. That will not last. You can also snag a bottle from Seelbachs.com for $299. Don’t expect that to last either.
Long story short, this is going to be your only chance to get this bottle (outside of insane secondary market situations in the coming months/years).