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The Single Best Bottle Of Whiskey From Each Of The 50 States

Creating a list of the single best bottle of whiskey from each of the 50 states proved to be a tremendously daunting task. The hardest bit was actually pulling bottles from each state that felt worthy of that honor. Let’s face it, not all states are created equal when it comes to making good whiskey. Spots like South Dakota, Idaho, or Alaska just aren’t on par with New York, Washington, or Texas much less freaking Tennessee, Indiana, or Kentucky.

Sorry, folks — that’s just the reality.

Then there’s the fact that some states only have a handful of distilleries to choose from. I’ve had juice from all five distilleries in South Dakota. They range from “good try, y’all.” to “wow, you have a long way to go.” For states like that, I had to pick the lesser of five evils, so to speak.

Finally, you also have the Kentucky/Indiana/Tennessee conundrum. Do you really want me to pick only one bottle from each of those states? Is that even possible? Sure, it is… but it’s also a bit of a crapshoot. There’s just so much amazing whiskey coming out of those states right now that naming a single expression from a single distillery is nothing more than a judgment call. And since it’s my judgment doing the calling, everyone else is sure to disagree. Hell, I’m sure I’d disagree if someone else were making the final picks on those whiskey-rich states.

But as the saying goes, “f*ck it.” I had an assignment and I saw it through.

One rule I adhered to with this list is that I was very vigilant about sourced juice. That means hugely popular brands like Smoke Wagon out in Nevada missed this list, since all their juice is from MGP Indiana right now. It doesn’t matter that it’s bottled in Nevada, it’s technically Indiana whiskey. Where I did give leeway was with blends of MGP, Bardstown, or Tullahoma juice with own make from the local distillery. So brands like High West made the list because there is Utah juice in that bottle. Savvy?

Okay, deep breath — let’s get into the belly of this beast. Oh, and click on those prices if you want to try any of these expressions for yourself!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of 2021

Alabama — Dettling Small Batch Six Grain Bourbon

Dettling 1867

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This juice is a “field-to-glass” craft whiskey from a state that’d likely be a better spot to age rum than whiskey. The juice starts off with locally sourced corn that local chefs use in their cornbread. That’s supported by flaked rye, rolled oats, malted barley, and heavily roasted wheat alongside a sixth, undisclosed grain. That juice is then aged for two short years before it’s small batched and bottled at a very approachable 80 proof.

Tasting Notes:

That cornmeal comes through on the nose with a sense of candied orange, salted butter, and pancake syrup with a hint of brewer’s yeast. The taste holds onto the corn while that orange sweetens towards a touch of toffee before the mid-palate shifts towards bitter chocolate with a touch of spicy black peppercorns. That dry pepper holds as a light dry herbal note lingers on the senses.

Bottom Line:

Everyone is losing their shit over this bottle right now. It’s really solid whiskey but feels more like a great cocktail base than a sipper to me.

Alaska — Port Chilkoot Wrack Line Rye

Port Chilkoot Distillery

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This 70-percent Alaskan rye focuses on organic grains, double distilling, and aging for three years in newly charred American oak. This is Alaska in a glass while embracing classic American whiskey tactics.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a brightness to the spice here — kind of like peaches stewed in cinnamon and nutmeg with plenty of syrup. It’s light yet full of floral notes, oaky vanilla, and peppery rye spices. That line of stonefruit sweetness comes in late that leads right back to a spicy warm finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty easy-drinking whiskey that feels very crafty and young. If you’re looking for a mixer, it’ll be great.

Arizona — Arizona Distilling Copper City Bourbon

Arizona Distilling

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

AZ Distilling’s award-winning bourbon (now made with their own juice from Tempe) is a quality bourbon to seek out. It’s corn-based with a mix of rye and barley filling out the mash bill. The whiskey is then aged for just under four years in new American oak before hitting the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

Bourbon vanilla is upfront. Next, you’re going to feel a rich and buttery caramel sweetness with a hint of rye spice. There’s a nice balance between the wood, spice, vanilla, and corn sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This is very standard but has a classic feel. Is it the best bourbon in the world? Of course not. That doesn’t mean it’s not a perfectly suitable bottle to give a shot.

Arkansas — Rock Town Arkansas Bourbon Whiskey

Rock Town Distillery

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

The whiskey is made from locally grown Arkansas corn, red winter wheat, and a dash of malted barley. The mash is twice distilled and then goes into a barrel for about 20 months. It’s then vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This is classic bourbon. There’s a confluence of vanilla, wood, spice, and caramel that combines for a well-balanced sip. If you like your bourbon even-handed with some dark berry and toasted caramel notes, this is the whiskey for you.

Bottom Line:

This goes beyond the usual vanilla/wood/spice/caramel vibe of most bourbons and adds in a nice berry brightness. If you’re in Arkansas, this is worth checking out.

California — Sonoma Distilling Co. Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Sonoma Distilling Co.

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Out in California, Sonoma County Distillery is working some unique magic with their bourbon. Sonoma Bourbon has a mash bill that eschews rye and instead uses local wheat. The bill ends up at 70 percent corn, 25 percent wheat, and five percent barley. The wheat adds a nutty and bitter dimension to the final product that’s worth checking out.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a grassy nature here. Think of a field of grass at the very end of summer when everything is amber-gold and the sun is scorching the earth. Then rushes of buttery and brisk toffee come into play alongside oaky vanilla, bitter roasted coffee beans, and wonderful echoes of almond-heavy marzipan. There’s a mild alcohol spice on the backend that leaves you wanting another sip.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid non-Kentucky bourbon. It’s bespoke, unique, and truly tasty.

Colorado — Laws Four Grain Bonded

Laws Whiskey House

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

A.D. Laws out in Colorado is a special shingle. The distillery is renowned for its award-winning four-grain bourbons. This bottle, to us, is the most accessible of the bunch. The juice is made from 60 percent corn, 20 percent heirloom wheat, ten percent heirloom rye, and ten percent heirloom malted barley. That hot juice is then aged for over six years before it’s batched and cut down to 100 proof per bonded whiskey laws.

Tasting Notes:

This feels more crafty on the nose, with a balance between bitter black tea that’s been cut with a summery and floral honey as touches of cinnamon and orange pop in the background. The orange and spice thickens and leans into an orange pound cake with a buttery and spicy streusel crumble as that black tea bitterness circles back to cut through all that butter, spice, and orange. The end leans into the spice with more of a cinnamon candy vibe that drives towards a final dusting of dark cocoa.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid bottled-in-bond that also happens to be a great example of four-grain bourbon. It’s a pretty easy sipper overall but really shines as a cocktail base, thanks to the slightly higher ABVs.

Connecticut — Litchfield Distillery 5-Year Double-Barreled Bourbon Whiskey

Litchfield Distillery

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

Litchfield is one of those local craft distilleries that do a little bit of everything. Their Double-Barreled 5-year-old is a highwater mark of the operation. The juice is made from locally grown Connecticut grains. That whiskey is then aged for a few years. Finally, it’s proofed with local water and re-barreled to add an extra layer of woody depth to the bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

The sip starts with an almost vinous note that goes into sweet caramel and spice. There’s a clear vanilla essence through the woody oak. The aged-grape flavors come in again with a slight sweetness before a warm, woody, and spicy finale.

Bottom Line:

This is pretty oaky, making it a good cocktail candidate.

Delaware — Dogfish Head Let’s Get Lost American Single Malt Whiskey

Dogfish Head

ABV: 51%

Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

All whiskey starts off as beer so it makes a lot of sense when brewers start distilling. Industry darling, Dogfish Head, did just that with this expression. The base is 100 percent barley with a mix of Pale Malt, Crystal Malt, Coffee Kiln Malt, and applewood smoke Malt. That mash is fermented with Dogfish Head’s own ale yeast before distillation, aging, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Orange and honey mingle with a salted nuttiness next to vanilla pudding and a touch of dry cherry tobacco. The palate has a touch of that fruity yeast next to a slight chili-choco vibe that leads back to the tobacco with a cinnamon Red Hot edge. The finish really leans into the dryness of the chili-chocolate’s bitter end — to the point of conjuring an espresso bean next to a touch of smoked cedar.

Bottom Line:

This is surprisingly good for a craft brew whiskey. It’s sippable on the rocks or great in a cocktail or highball.

Florida — St. Augustine Port Finished Bourbon

St. Augustine Distillery

ABV: 51%

Average Price: $80

The Whiskey:

The bourbon rests for three years in American oak first, giving it a classic base. Then the booze goes into port casks from San Sebastian for six solid months. The end result is a unique bourbon that’s both enticing and refined.

Tasting Notes:

The woodiness that leads this one feels more like a cedar than an oak. Corn comes into play, along with a sweet dried fruit meatiness a la port wine. Vanilla and hints of mint show up and are later washed out by oak, bitterness, and a whisper of ripe red berries.

Bottom Line:

This is perfectly nice for what it is. It’s not going to “wow” you but it’ll get the job done.

Georgia — Ghost Coast The Master Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Ghost Coast Distilling

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

This Georgia whiskey starts off with corn, wheat, rye, malted barley, and oats in the mash and adds in Saison brewer’s yeast to get that ferment going. The twice distilled juice is then matured for three years in that intense Georgia heat and humidity.

Tasting Notes:

The emphasis on the rye adds spicy notes that are immediately followed by rich butterscotch and Graham crackers. Then the oak and vanilla come in alongside dried apricot, buttery caramel, and a brewer’s yeast funk. Finally, a cinnamon spice takes over and leads to a warming finish that never burns.

Bottom Line:

This is still very crafty with that yeasty note but does go beyond an entry-level bourbon. There’s a nice depth that works really well in fruit-forward cocktails.

Hawai’i — Ko’olau Old Pali Road Whisky

Ko

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $60

The Whisky:

Ko’olau’s Old Pali Road is a special whiskey. The spirit is made from local Hawaiian-grown corn and mineral water straight from a volcanic spring. Then the booze is aged in before being blended with five-year-old mainland whiskey to create a wonderfully balanced elixir.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of banana fruit and dried plums upfront. That’s then cut by oaky vanilla and mild warming spice on the back end. That being said, this whiskey feels young and fruity with a wet green depth.

Bottom Line:

This is among the weaker whiskeys on the list. It’s not undrinkable. It’s just very young and crafty and works only as a mixer at the end of the day.

Idaho — Colter’s Run Bourbon Whiskey

Teton Distillery

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

The distillate starts with a 71 percent local corn base then adds a nice cut of rye with a dash of malted barley in the mash. The spirit is then aged in charred new American oak for at least three years before going in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

The opening is clear bourbon notes of vanilla with an orange zest essence that pops. The sip edges dry — with notes of wood, vanilla, and baking spices leading to a mildly warm finish.

Bottom Line:

This is another perfectly suitable crafty bourbon. It’s great if you’re in Idaho and looking for something local. Beyond that, just grab something from Kentucky and be done with it.

Illinois — FEW Bourbon Whiskey

FEW

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $54

The Whiskey:

FEW Spirits takes small-batch, hands-on distilling very seriously. The Evanston operation takes its time in sourcing quality ingredients and then takes even more time to assure those ingredients become fine whiskey. This is a grain-to-glass operation. FEW was also the first distillery to open in Evanston after prohibition and the master distiller was instrumental in helping to overturn the city’s century-old dry laws.

Tasting Notes:

That high-rye content leads to a spiciness right upfront. There’s an almost curry-like spice mix at play here with a lean towards cinnamon. Ripe apples and peaches brighten up the taste before the dark and stormy spices take over again. It’s a soft sip with a nice spicy edge.

Bottom Line:

This is a very dialed-in bourbon. While it’s built as a workhorse, it really shines in a highball or as an old fashioned base.

Indiana — Remus Repeal Reserve Series IV

MGP of Indiana

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $94

The Whiskey:

MGP makes a lot of the whiskey you love that’s bottled under different labels. They also bottle their own labels from their massive stock and this yearly limited release is their highwater mark. The juice is a blend of two 12-year-old rye’d bourbons — one with 21 percent rye and one with 36 percent rye. The married juices are then touched (just barely!) with the Ohio Valley’s soft limestone water and bottled in a classy Don Draper-era bottle.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a real sense of fresh maple syrup on the nose that leads towards a rich vanilla creaminess with hints of Christmas spices full of candied orange rinds. The palate zeroes in on the spices and becomes more sharpened and peppery with more creamy vanilla, dried dark fruits, and a touch of dry cedar. The end is very long and leaves you with a warming spicy tobacco chewiness with no rough edges whatsoever.

Bottom Line:

If you ever wondered what an MGP bourbon tastes like from the source, this is a great place to start. The dram really does benefit from a drop or two of water to open it up. Do so and you’ll find some coffee and chocolate bitterness and maybe a hint of Amarena cherry syrup.

This is an essential drinking experience to get a better understanding of the power of MGP in relation to the wider whiskey world, in general.

Iowa — Cedar Ridge Reserve Iowa Bourbon Whiskey

Cedar Ridge Whiskey

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $68

The Whiskey:

Iowa’s first distillery planted itself right in the middle of America’s grain belt. They’re making a product that requires corn, rye, and barley, so there’s really no better place to set up a distillery. Cedar Ridge’s Reserve Iowa Bourbon wins awards pretty much everywhere it drops a new expression. The corn-fueled bourbon spends five years aging, adding a deep complexity that’ll help you fall in love with bourbon in general.

Tasting Notes:

This is a big whiskey with a lot to ponder. It opens with a flourish of freshly cracked black pepper, warm honeycombs, and fields of blooming jasmine. There’s a dry nature to the sip with fresh herbs — dill and fennel, predominately — hitting first. Then the corn arrives. You can almost taste the fresh green husks in the whiskey. This is a spring farm in full bloom distilled into a glass.

Bottom Line:

Of all the smaller craft distilleries on this list, Cedar Ridge is pretty close to the top when it comes to quality. This is a deeply well-made whiskey that wows in any application.

Kansas — Union Horse Distilling Rolling Standard Midwestern Four Grain Whiskey

Union Horse

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This Kansas whiskey is a uniquely American whiskey expression all around. The bottle marries two American whiskey styles with four separate grains involved. It’s part American wheated bourbon and part American single malt. Locally sourced corn, wheat, rye, and barley are utilized in the mash. Then the booze is mellowed in used oak barrels from Missouri until it’s just right.

Tasting Notes:

The grain-to-glass whiskey opens with classic notes of oaky vanilla. Next, a maple syrup earthy sweetness cut through along with a roasted almond fatty nature. Dark pitted cherries come into play right before the rye kicks in with a hint of cinnamon on the mildly spicy finish.

Bottom Line:

This is another whiskey that might wow you for what it is. It’s not mind-blowing, but it hits high marks in drinkability … if you’re in Kansas.

Kentucky — Michter’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 10 Years Old

Michters Distilling

ABV: 47.2%

Average Price: $200

The Whiskey:

The juice in this bottle is a little under wraps. Michter’s is currently distilling and aging their own whiskey, but this is still sourced. The actual barrels sourced for these single barrel expressions tend to be at least ten years old with some rumored to be closer to 15 years old. Either way, the juice goes through Michter’s bespoke filtration process before a touch of Kentucky’s iconic soft limestone water is added, bringing the bourbon down to a very crushable 94.4 proof.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with subtle notes of soft wood and worn leather next to light touches of dark berries, orange oils, egg nog spice, and slight toffee sweetness. The palate starts off equally soft with something more akin to maple syrup sweetness which then leads into a rush of berry brambles. The mid-palate hits on a bit of dark spice, vanilla tobacco, and dark cacao… maybe espresso?… bitterness. The finish leans into a dry-yet-almost-sweet oak with a touch of an almond shell and dry grass coming in at the very end.

The real beauty is in the softness of the taste. There are no rough edges whatsoever and the whole sipping experience is like a silken dream. The soft limestone water does help the drinkability without making it feel thin. And while this isn’t an ABV bomb that’ll leave you burning, it’s not meant to be. This is the epitome of a slow-sipping bourbon with real depth.

Bottom Line:

This continues to be one of the most drinkable high-end bourbons on the market. It’s shockingly easy to sip without water or ice. Though, a drop or two of water or a single rock will help the deeper flavors of the bourbon come out to play.

We’d also argue that this is the best bourbon in the country right now, if folks want to have that conversation.

Louisiana — LA1 Louisiana Bourbon

DPD Spirits

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

Donner-Peltier Distillers out in Thibodaux has been distilling and aging an award-winning whiskey for years now. The spirit is a unique one that incorporates locally grown rice into the mash bill alongside the classic ingredients of corn, rye, and barley.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sweetness from the rice that accents the corn. A funky rye note comes in with an almost pumpernickel essence, followed up by a sugary sweet note. Notes of oaky vanilla sit next to buttery toasted rye bread and hints of deeply roasted cacao nibs. The finish is bold and brings the peppery rye spice to tie it all together.

Bottom Line:

This feels like it was made to mix Sazeracs with. Follow that lead.

Maine — Fifty Stone Single Malt Whiskey

Fifty Stone

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This is a Scottish-style single malt made in Portland, Maine. The distillers take 100-percent locally grown barley and malt it with locally sourced peat and seaweed. This imbues a clear and unique smokiness you won’t find in any other single malt.

Tasting Notes:

This one opens up with a clear sense of the barley via a warm scone covered in salty butter and honey. Then the smoke comes into play next. It’s subtle. There’s a briny nature like you’re about to enjoy a crab boil off a campfire right on the beach. You sense the sea spray through the smokiness. The honey and salty butter come back into play as the smoke leads to a soft finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a very subtle and drinkable peated malt that might just impress the most avid peated whisky drinker in your life.

Maryland — Sagamore Rye Port Finish

Sagamore Spirits

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $76

The Whiskey:

Taking spicy rye and finishing it off in port barrels adds a wonderful dimension to Sagamore’s famed rye expression. The port counterbalances the heat with a fruity nature that ebbs towards sweet, adding depth to the American grain spirit. It’s worth noting that this was awarded the “World’s Best Rye Whiskey” at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirit Competition.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted here with notes of buttery toffee, rich and meaty plums, and a matrix of baking spices. Sharp and sweet dark cherries and red berries come into play alongside a caramel smoothness. Then a bitter note comes in as the port fruitiness fades and rye spice rises. Finally, that sweet, plummy port nature takes over towards a dry-ish, warm end.

Bottom Line:

Maryland is where American rye was born and Sagamore has rebirthed that whiskey scene, almost single-handedly. This whiskey is damn fine as a sipper or mixer and worth seeking out even if you’re not in Maryland.

Massachusetts — The Notch Nantucket Single Malt Whisky Aged 15 Years

Triple Eight Distillery

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $500

The Whiskey:

The Notch is continually named the “best” American single malt in the world, including at 2020’s World Whisky Awards. Like many of the single malts on this list, this hinges on the quality of the beer brewed as the base. They use the much-coveted Maris Otter barley that’s processed on-site at the brewery before being sent to the distillery to start this whisky. The hot juice is then barreled and stored next to the sea. This expression is a blend of whiskies aged in former sherry barrels, Cognac barrels, wine casks, and sauternes barrels (a sweet French wine).

Tasting Notes:

The oak comes through up top and is supported by dried red berries, dried tobacco, worn leather, creamed vanilla, and a hint of dark spice. The sip leans into aged notes and oak as the spice wanes and a musty nature takes over with an old hay edge. The warmth of the dram is drawn back and edges more into the peppery spice as the fruit and tobacco help the sip fade slowly away.

Bottom Line:

Having tried this at a tasting I can safely say: try this one (probably at a tasting) before committing to the investment. It’s really, really good — the ultimate sipper that’ll help you “get” what good American single malt is.

If you can afford it, buy two. One as an investment bottle and one to break out on special occasions.

Michigan — Traverse City Bourbon Barrel Proof

Traverse City Whiskey

ABV: 59% (varies)

Average Price: $120

The Whiskey:

This Michigan whiskey is made to highlight a true grain-to-glass experience. The juice is made from a mash of 71 percent corn, 25 percent rye, and four percent barley. It’s aged for four years in the extreme weather of the Great Lakes. Barrels are then hand-picked and bottled with no fussing.

Tasting Notes:

The milled corn comes through with a touch of orange zest, vanilla, toffee, and lemon jam. The taste amps up the toffee with a caramel kettle corn vibe next to hints of cedar and orchard fruit. The end is long and very clearly all about the velvety vanilla and toffee sweetness with a slight alcohol warmth, thanks to a touch of spice and citrus.

Bottom Line:

This is very easy-drinking for a barrel-proof (that’ll also be cheaper if you’re in Michigan). It does lean towards the sweet and buttery more than spicy, which is why we like it. If you’re ready to get a sense of the good work happening in Michigan when it comes to whiskey, this is a great place to start.

Minnesota — Tattersall Minnesota Wheated

Tattersall Distilling

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is made from 100 percent locally grown Minnesota wheat, which adds a nice depth of local flavor. That wheat is then fermented with a fruity yeast strain before distilling, cold aging in those Minnesota winters, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Hints of berries and bananas lead towards a caramel spice undercut with vanilla. There’s an echo of rye spice in the background here that helps lead to a big finish with more fruit and a warm alcohol buzz.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid wheat whiskey with a bright flavor profile. Still, this falls squarely in the cocktail base bracket — meaning it makes a quality whiskey sour or boulevardier.

Mississippi — Cathead Old Soul Bourbon Whiskey

Cathead Distillery

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

This is a blend of two bourbons. The base is a five-year-old, high-rye mash bill bourbon from MGP Indiana. That’s cut with a four-year-old bourbon distilled in Mississippi that’s also has a high-rye mash bill.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel and vanilla greet you in classic bourbon form. Then the sip veers into an old library with a pall of tobacco smoke and the lingering presence of old leather. Ripe cherries take you in another direction altogether before the caramel sweetness returns along with the rye spice to finish things off.

Bottom Line:

This is fine whiskey. It’s clear that the MGP is driving the flavor profile, but that’s what makes it so popular.

Missouri — Still 360 Missouri Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel

Still 360

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

“Missouri” Straight Bourbon has to be made with corn grown in Missouri only while also being fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled in the state. The juice from Still 360 has a pretty standard mash of corn, rye, and barley. In this case, the barrels are five years old before they go into the bottle only slightly cut with local water.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is like opening a can of creamed corn that leads towards a vanilla husk, cherry tobacco, and a note of egg nog spice. Those cherries carry through to the palate with a sense of brandy-soaked cherries dipped in dark chocolate next to a spicy tobacco leaf and a touch of butterscotch hard candy. The tobacco leaf drives the dry-yet-warming finish.

Bottom Line:

This bottle will get you very interested in what Missouri has to offer in the whiskey world. It’s also nice on the rocks or in a Manhattan.

Montana — Glacier Distilling North Fork Rye Whiskey

Glacier Distilling

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

North Fork Rye won gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The whiskey uses a mellow mash of rye and corn charred American white oak aging to create a wonderfully balanced and easily drinkable sip.

Tasting Notes:

The sweetness from the corn meets you upfront. There’s a clear sense of oaky vanilla and mild caramel that’s cut by a mellow rye peppery nature. Hints of orchard fruits and whispers of the corn marry that rye spice to propel the dram towards a well-balanced finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a surprisingly refined whiskey from a very crafty distillery. It’s well matured and works well as a workhorse whiskey.

Nebraska — Cooper’s Chase Bourbon

Cooper

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $34

The Whiskey:

This is one of the few craft bourbons coming out of Nebraska these days. The juice is a bit of a sphinx though, the distiller doesn’t publish the mash bill or aging process besides that it’s all done in-house in Nebraska.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a classic mix of vanilla, caramel, and spicy on the nose with a slight oaky edge. The palate delivers on that while adding in apple cores, cinnamon tobacco, and a touch of buttery toffee. The end is short and sweet with a slight mineral water vibe cutting through the warmer end of the sip.

Bottom Line:

This is standard bourbon at a standard price point.

Nevada — Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Frey Ranch

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

Frey Ranch is all about the farm behind the whiskey. In this case, that’s a 165+-year-old farm in the Sierra Nevada basin near Lake Tahoe. The grains (corn, wheat, rye, and barley), fermentation, distilling, aging, and bottling all happen on-site at Frey Ranch.

Tasting Notes:

The sip draws you in with hints of burnt orange rings next to fresh honey, apple-cider-soaked cinnamon sticks, cherry tobacco, and vanilla pods. The palate leans dry with cornmeal, bales of straw, woody eggnog spices, cherry stems, and a touch of dried mint next to cedar boxes full of vanilla tobacco. The mid-palate turns with a note of pancake syrup that leads back towards the dry woods and tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is a really freakin’ good bourbon. We’d argue this juice can stand next to anything from Tennesee, Indiana, or Kentucky.

New Hampshire — Tamworth The Old Man of the Mountain Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

This New England bourbon is all about grain-to-glass — with a mash bill of 82.4 percent organic yellow corn, eleven percent organic rye, and 6.6 percent malted barley. The juice is then aged for five years in medium-charred Kentucky barrels before it’s bottled according to bottled-in-bond regulations.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is all about that rich Christmas cake brimming with candied and dried fruits, dark spices, nuts, and soaked in brandy topped with a dollop of vanilla-infused brandy butter. The palate delivers on those promises of the nose while adding in hints of dark chocolate-covered cherries, cedar, spicy tobacco, and a hint of Tellicherry black peppercorns. That dry spiciness drives the finish to an end that’s warm yet sweet with that cherry.

Bottom Line:

This really shines as a sipper. It also makes a mean cocktail. It’s a solid all-around whiskey worth giving a shot even if you’re not in New Hampshire.

New Jersey — All Points West Malt and Grain Pot Still Whiskey

All Points West Distillery

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $65

The Whiskey:

This New Jersy whiskey leans into Irish whiskey traditions with a lower corn mash bill. The whiskey is fermented in a pot still with German and Irish malts alongside corn and water from New Jersey’s mountains. The juice is then aged for 24 months before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Cedar and cherries mingle with vanilla and toffee on the nose with a very distant whisper of campfire smoke. Cherry blossoms, honey, cedar, and spicy tobacco lead the palate with a hint of dried roses and a touch of cream soda. The finish is longish with a sense of spice, fruit, and flowers lingering the longest.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice whiskey that breaks the mold of bourbon, rye, and single malt that dominates the American whiskey scene. If you’re in the New York/New Jersey area, give it a shot.

New Mexico — Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey

Santa Fe Spirits

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $53

The Whiskey:

Colkegan is a combination of the Scottish Highlands and New Mexico’s ingredients. Instead of smoking their barley malts with peat, Santa Fe Spirits uses local mesquite logs in the kilning process, giving the base of this whiskey a clear New Mexico vibe. The juice is then aged at 7,000 feet above sea level in a climate-controlled warehouse that drops the temperatures to near freezing before amping them up extremely high while also lowering and heightening the humidity in the room.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a subtle balance of brisk desert smoke next to olive brine umami. Then hints of rich and sweet marzipan arrive with white chocolate fattiness and whispers of vanilla blossoms. The smoke carries through with a sense of dark, tart berries and rhubarb, and dry mesquite wood. That berry fruit feel carries on into the mellow finish as the smoke dissipates.

Bottom Line:

This is one hell of a single malt. Definitely worth seeking out if you’re interested in finding something new in smoked malts.

New York — Kings County Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Kings County

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $99

The Whiskey:

This small Brooklyn craft distillery uses New York-grown corn with English malted barley in its mash (80 percent and 20 percent, respectively). The juice is then aged for four years in small-format barrels (only 15 gallons) and then proofed down to 100 proof and bottled in flasks.

Tasting Notes:

With no wheat or rye, the corn really shines on the nose with a buttery and slightly salted caramel kettle corn feel next to a hint of vanilla frosting and strawberry shortcake. There’s a greenness to the body that feels like wet pine next to dark chocolate with a touch of vanilla and malt. The (fairly quick) end moves away from that green note and towards a dry pine with a dark and bitter cacao nib feel, as the vanilla and caramel provide a counterpoint to those flavors.

Bottom Line:

Bourbon rarely has 20 percent malted barley in the mix. That makes this an interesting dram that will remind you of Scotland (if only very subtly).

North Carolina — Defiant American Single Malt Whisky

Defiant Whisky

ABV: 41%

Average Price: $40.00

The Whiskey:

Defiant American Single Malt is a unique whisky. It’s aged in stainless steel tanks with spirals of well-toasted American oak but the whiskey is never barreled in oak. We’ve seen this method before and we’re kind of here for its ability to add a new dimension to the world of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Raw honeycomb and vanilla greet your nose. Crisp notes of peppery spice with a grassy edge. Cherry fruit and rich burnt cream have their moments with the spice carrying the brunt of the flavor until we reach the warm embrace at the end.

Bottom Line:

If you’re in North Carolina, give this a shot in a cocktail or highball.

North Dakota — Proof Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey

Proof Distillers

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $180

The Whiskey:

This American Single Malt from North Dakota is all about the double barreling. The local juice is first aged in new American white oak. Then, that juice is moved into an ex-bourbon barrel for a finishing maturation, making it a unique single malt.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of that bourbon barrel with notes of rich vanilla pudding next to mild spice and a green sense of malts. The palate follows that lead while adding in apples, pears, and a touch of honey sweetness. The end is long and green with a touch of oak and vanilla with a grassy finish.

Bottom Line:

This is going to be really hard to find outside of the region. Still, if you see it in a bar up there, try and pour and enjoy the unique nature of this dram.

Ohio — Middle West Straight Dark Pumpernickel Rye

Middle West Spirits

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $47

The Whiskey:

It’s all in the name. This Ohio whiskey is made with dark pumpernickel rye, Ohio soft red winter wheat, yellow corn, 2-row barley malts. The juice is then aged for three years in new white oak.

Tasting Notes:

That rye comes through on the nose like a sourdough German bread you find in every bakery over there. That nose is supported by hints of powdery cinnamon, vanilla pods, and a touch of powdered ginger. The palate leans into the caraway seeds of the rye with an almost funky green tea vibe. The finish sweetens with a molasses-cut oatmeal cookie feel.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the most unique ryes out there. It’s great as a sipper and super funky and fresh in a cocktail.

Oklahoma — Red Fork Reverence Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Red Fork Distillery

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Oklahoma isn’t exactly a bastion of whiskey. Red Fork Reverence is a hand-crafted bourbon from a tiny local distiller in Tulsa. Beyond that, not much is known about this whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

This is very broadly bourbon from the nose to the end with caramel apples, Red Hots, and vanilla extract driving the nose and the palate. The finish is short, a little yeasty and raw, and slightly warm.

Bottom Line:

If you’re in Tulsa, try this. Otherwise, it’s pretty standard craft juice.

Oregon — Westward American Single Malt Whiskey

Westward Distilling

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

Portland’s Westward Whiskey has its roots in Pacific Northwest craft brewing culture (similar to most craft distilleries in the PNW). This juice is emblematic of how important the first step of whiskey — the fermented mash, which is basically beer — is to the whiskey-making process. And while Westward’s Stout Cask Finish was getting all the love this year, just last year this expression won Double Gold in San Francisco.

Tasting Notes:

This is very fruity and malty on the nose with a touch of cream soda and mild spice. The palate is vanilla forward with wet tobacco, a touch of eggnog spice, and a dry grain backbone that’s almost toasted. There’s a wet leather that leads towards a slightly dry dark cocoa powder on the very end.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the best single malts in the American craft game right now. Even if you’re not in the Pacific Northwest, give this a try.

Pennsylvania — Wigle Pennsylvania Straight Bourbon

Wigle Whiskey Distillery

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $55

The Whiskey:

Wigle makes an organic Straight Bourbon in Pittsburgh that really nails the region’s whiskey history. The local distillery uses a mash bill of winter wheat, malted barley, and Wapsie Valley corn. The Iowa corn is distinctive and said to be some of the best corn out there for making bourbon. The grains are brought to Pittsubrugh where they’re milled and then fermented and distilled all in-house.

Tasting Notes:

Corn is what hits you first. It’s fresh, bold, and accompanied by classic notes of oaky vanilla and rich caramel. Then things take a turn from the ordinary. Whispers of smoke creeping into the sip with hints of dark cocoa, burnt brown sugars, and meaty strips of salty and peppery jerky. Finally, the oaky spiciness returns with another whisper of that age-old smokiness.

Bottom Line:

Pennsylvania has some of the most important whiskey histories in America yet is probably the least represented of those heritage states. This bottle is a great example of the comeback Pennsylvania is mounting to once again become a whiskey destination.

Rhode Island — Sons of Liberty Uprising

Sons of Liberty Spirits

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Uprising has its foundation in local craft beer. The malts used in the 100-percent malted barley mash bill are the same roasted malts (Chocolate Malt, Crystal 45, and Biscuit) used to make a stout. It’s fermented with ale yeast, distilled, and then goes into charred American oak and toasted French oak to rest for a few years. Finally, the whiskey is blended to create a unique American single malt.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a toasted, buttery nature to this sip. Notes of vanilla creaminess, rich caramel, dark chocolate, and well-roasted coffee beans are all in play, giving this one a stout feel. Finally, spicy notes kick in and cut through the fatty and bitter coffee and chocolate to bring along a very welcome warm finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid whiskey that’ll have you saying, “Well, that’s nice, isn’t it?” While this works on the rocks, it really shines as a cocktail base.

South Carolina — High Wire New Southern Revival 100% Jimmy Red Corn

High Wire Distilling

ABV: 57.2%

Average Price: $120

The Whiskey:

This South Carolina distiller utilizes a heritage red corn that nearly went extinct. The distillers worked with Clemson University to help bring back Jimmy Red Corn as a varietal, specifically because that was the corn used by local moonshiners way back in the day. The juice is also a unique bourbon that has a 100 percent corn mash bill.

Tasting Notes:

This barrel-proof expression doesn’t feel overly alcohol-forward. Instead, you’re greeted with mild notes of honey, dried roses, eggnog spice, and caramel corn with a nice hint of salt. The palate is warm but sweet with a continued note of salted caramel corn and buttery toffee next to hints of cherry candy and maybe even salted peanut shells. The end is long and ends with a hint of banana next to that caramel corn and a final savory note.

Bottom Line:

This much-sought-after bottle of bourbon is a good candidate for expanding your palate with a true outlier. While the MSRP is $100, these tend to sell out very fast, meaning you’ll find them for far more than that in most cases.

South Dakota — Badlands Iron Hills Bourbon

Badlands Distillery

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

South Dakota’s Badlands highlights local ideas and products to create a grain-to-glass experience with their whiskey expressions. Their ingredients are harvested in the Badlands, allowing the terroir to dictate the path of this spirit.

Tasting Notes:

Cinnamon spiciness greets you with a nice dose of caramel, vanilla, and oak. Apple orchards, toffee, and more oaky vanilla carry the taste into classic bourbon territory. Finally, that spicy cinnamon takes on a sweet Red Hots note as the finish comes up quickly.

Bottom Line:

There are slim pickings in South Dakota. Let’s just leave it at that.

Tennessee — George Dickel Tennessee Whisky Bottled-In-Bond

Diageo

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

Nicole Austin has been killing it with these bottled-in-bond releases from George Dickel. This year’s release is a whiskey that was warehoused in the fall of 2008. Eleven years later, this juice was bottled at 100 proof (as per the law) and sent out to the wide world where it received much adoration.

Tasting Notes:

This bottle exudes a flaky-crusted pecan pie jacked up on maple syrup, sprinkled with dried apple, and flush with rich vanilla. The taste delivers on those promises with a subtle maple syrup sweetness balanced with roasted nuts, more vanilla, and another dose of that earthy/spicy dried fruit — think dried cherry dipped in dark cocoa powder. The end is slow and pointed with spicy apple pies, brown butter richness, and another shot of that vanilla leading towards a hint of charred oak.

Bottom Line:

This is the highwater mark of Dickel (right now anyway). It’s really sippable neat but works especially well on the rocks. It’s also a killer cocktail or highball base at a price point that most whisky drinkers can afford. You just can’t beat this whisky.

Texas — Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon

Balcones

ABV: 64.9%

Average Price: $65

The Whiskey:

This is one of the most unique bottles on the list and worth the search (and money) to take home. Locally grown Texas blue corn is used to create a truly Texan bourbon. The juice is aged in the Balcone’s Waco rickhouse under the hot Texas sun, allowing the sugars from the wood to really imbue themselves into the bourbon. The results are vatted and bottled at cask-proof, letting every detail of the barrel shine through.

Tasting Notes:

Salted butter melting on freshly baked cornbread mingles with fresh tobacco, dried mint sprigs, and powdery white pepper. The sip then takes a left turn into Red Hots, orange marmalade, and fire-roasted marshmallow territory with black tea bitterness cutting through. The pepper and corn return on the finish as this one takes its time to say goodbye.

Bottom Line:

This is bold and not really like any other bourbon (in general). And that’s why we love it. This is the perfect bottle to reset a palate while expanding it. It’s also a great cocktail base thanks to those hefty ABVs.

Utah — High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram

High West Distillery

ABV: 49.3%

Average Price: $200

The Whiskey:

Each year, this limited drop varies slightly. Last year’s release was a mix of MGP rye (95 percent rye) and High West rye (100 percent rye) finished in French oak barrels that held port. The barrels picked for this batch were between four and seven years old.

Tasting Notes:

This bursts forth with bright red berries covered in rich and bitter dark chocolate with sultanas, burnt orange peels, and nutmeg-heavy French toast custard. The palate really holds onto the berries while savory rhubarb cobbler mingles with dates, old leather tobacco pouches, and vanilla pudding with a salted caramel drizzle. The end leans into eggnog spices with a touch of bitter black tea, more leathery tobacco, and a whisper of fresh mint.

Bottom Line:

This is revered for a reason. It’s quality juice that really wows. If you can snag a bottle, you’re one of the lucky ones.

Vermont — WhistlePig Beyond Bonded FarmStock Rye

WhistlePig

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $125

The Whiskey:

The vast majority of WhistlePig is/was Alberta and Indiana rye until the distillery actually began to age its own juice. Now, those sourced juices still make up the main lines of the brand but their own juice is starting to make and appearance in the Farmstock line.

This expression is made with 100 percent Remington Rye grown on-site at WhistlePig. It’s then aged for around four-plus years before blending and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This rye leans into dry wood, lemon zest, and plenty of cinnamon that’s a little sweet and buttery, like a cinnamon toast. The woodiness leans towards dry cedar bark with black tea next to peach, more lemon zest, and a holiday cake spice matrix. The finish starts to dry out with those spices as hints of burnt orange peel and marshmallow lead towards a note of fresh dollar bill from a new stack.

Bottom Line:

This is a great outing for WhistlePig and helps cement their place amongst the greats of whiskey.

Virginia — Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky

Virginia Distillery Co.

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

Virginia Distillery is one of those craft distilleries you’re going to be hearing more and more about in the coming years. Their Courage & Conviction is the second in a series of single malts the distillery plans to release in this line. This expression is a single malt blend of 100 percent malted barley distillate that’s aged in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and ex-Cuvée wine casks. The blend is a split of 50 percent from the bourbon cask and an equal measure from the sherry and Cuvée casks.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a clear sweetness that edges from bourbon caramel towards buttery toffee and malts. The palate follows suit and adds in notes of tart raspberry next to hints of vanilla and oaky spice. The addition of a drop of water brings about a dark chocolate powder in both texture and taste. The sip fades evenly back through the warm spice, bright berry, and toffee sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This makes for a fine sipper with a little ice or water. I really dig it in a highball with soft mineral water. It also has a solid bottle design with a heavy cork and nice color, which always makes for a classic gift.

Washington — Woodinville PX Sherry Cask Finish Bourbon

Woodinville Distillery

ABV: 47.5%

Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

This whiskey takes Woodinville’s signature (and much-lauded) five-year-old straight bourbon and gives it a new finishing touch. The juice is finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, making a sort of sibling to our favorite bourbon of 2020, the Port Cask Finish. But while there are similarities between the two, this feels like a step up in many small, tough to define ways.

Point being: It’s very special.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is a bouquet of dark spices next to dried orange rinds, soft Christmas cake, and a slight floral underpinning that’s more damp than dried out. The taste embraces the holiday spices with a creamy veneer of dark chocolate oranges, eggnog spice, and a velvety mouthfeel with a hint of orchard fruit and toffee drizzle. The finish is long but doesn’t overstay its welcome. There’s a sense of the woody spices that’s more akin to cinnamon sticks once stirred in hot apple cider, leaving you with a dry note of spicy tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This was love at first nose (and sip). Unfortunately, this is only available at the distillery for now. Still, this is a great next step on anyone’s Woodinville bourbon journey while being a wonderful sipper all around.

West Virginia — Smooth Ambler Contradiction

Smooth Ambler

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

Smooth Ambler is a great example of how smaller craft operations get up and running. This expression is a blend of sourced high-rye bourbon that’s aged for nine years with their own-make, a wheated bourbon that’s aged for two years. The sourced bourbon is MGP of Indiana, giving the blenders a quality foundation to build their bourbon off of.

Tasting Notes:

Classic notes of bourbon vanilla and oak mingle with spicy stewed cherries beckoning you in on the nose. The palate holds onto that sweet fruit and spice, as notes of worn leather and soft cedar arrive with a hint of grain. The end is long-ish with the spice, oak, and cherry lasting the longest.

Bottom Line:

This is another bourbon that drinkers in the know seek out and tend to revere. While I prefer it in cocktails, it’s a good on the rocks sipper in a pinch.

Wisconsin — J. Henry Small Batch Bourbon Aged 5 Years

J. Henry & Sons

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $54

The Whiskey:

This whiskey benefits greatly from Wisconsin’s mild yet varied weather — think warm summers and bitterly cold winters with proper fall and spring rains. The juice is a blend of only 16 barrels of five-year-old bourbons.

Tasting Notes:

Butterscotch and vanilla-lemon pudding lead the nose with a touch of orange peel and honey. The palate leans into the spicy warmth with Red Hots and cloves next to cherry tobacco and more of that butterscotch. That vanilla-lemon pudding comes back into play late, as the finish sweetens into a creamy yet spicy end.

Bottom Line:

This is a quality bourbon that’s likely not on a lot of radars. That’s a shame as this is a fine sipper and cocktail mixer.

Wyoming — Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Wyoming Whiskey

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $44

The Whiskey:

This small-town craft distillery is making some of the finest grain-to-glass whiskey on the market. Their signature bourbon is a wheated bourbon that utilizes grains grown within 100 miles of the Wyoming distillery. The juice is aged for at least four years before it’s small-batched, proofed with local water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The vanilla and caramel on the nose are creamy to the point of feeling like a stiff pudding with a hint of wildflowers. The palate holds onto those flowers and pudding while adding cinnamon sticks warming in browned butter with a note of cedar. That spice broadens out to a Christmas spice vibe as a buttery toffee sweetness and mouthfeel lead you toward a finish that’s just the right length.

Bottom Line:

This is a super easy sipper that has a little crafty funkiness with those floral notes. It’s interesting while still being 100 percent accessible, sippable, and mixable.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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