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The World’s Best Whiskeys, According To The NY International Spirits Competition

Whiskey awards season is officially ramping up. This coming Monday, the New York International Spirits Competition is going to announce its full line-up of winners from over 3,000 bottles. We were lucky enough to get a look at the list early and today we’re calling out the best whiskeys in the field — those that won the coveted Double Gold.

The whisk(e)ys below span every category, representing multiple regions around the world. Of course, that doesn’t mean this is a complete (or exhaustive) list of great whiskies. As with all of these competitions, it’s wholly dependent on which businesses decided to submit their expressions to be judged. Still, from this sample size, it does look like Texas whiskey is dominating whiskey awards right now.

That all being said, what we dig about this competition is that it brings some bottles to the public attention that we’ve never heard of. It also feels pretty accessible — the vast majority of these bottles are under $100 and pretty easy to track down. To that end, click on the prices if you want to try these double-gold-winning whiskies yourself!

Ardbeg Uigedail

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 54.2%

Average Price: $85

The Whisky:

The mix of peated malts, yeast, and that inky lake water creates a spirit that’s already full of flavors. The hot juice is then aged in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. When the whisky in the barrels are just right, they’re blended into this single malt expression and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Smoky plums in a Christmas cake mingle with a very distinct sense of dried flowers and a sugary banana. The star of this show is the balance between the sweet fruits and smoky malts as the spices fade in to accentuate, not overpower. The sip slows down when you add a few drops of water and really lets the smoke, spice, and fruit work together. The end is soft but carries a sense of urgency, driving you towards your next sip.

Bottom Line:

Ardbeg is the Islay whisky that’ll either help you fall in love with the peaty smoke bombs or turn you off them completely. Still, it’s a subtly fruity/smoky/spicy dram that clearly has a lot to offer, even if you don’t dig the smoky side of whisky … yet.

Balcones Mirador

Balcones

ABV: 54.8%

Average Price: $85

The Whisky:

This is a fascinating single malt from Texas. The Balcones’ juice is aged for two to five years in refill whisky casks. That means the wood has already been sapped of a lot of the natural sugar that both flavors and colors whisky as it ages. This creates an ultra-mellow sipping experience while maintaining a rich malt character.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a nose full of just-peeled apple and pear skins next to very floral honey and a hint of soft, wet leather. The taste holds onto the honey and fruit while folding in fennel, dill, and sun-kissed fresh lavender that leads towards a fruit/lemon pancake syrup vibe and a touch of savory melon. The end dries out and takes on a slight black tea bitter edge as it fades away fairly quickly.

Bottom Line:

This is a super easy-sipping single malt. It certainly shines with a little ice or water to help all those floral and fruity notes open up. Perfect for a Sazerac.

Bear Fight American Single Malt Whiskey

New Century Spirits

ABV: 45%

Average Price: N/A

The Whisky:

This whiskey comes from Next Century Spirits. That’s a company that makes ready-to-sell booze for companies that don’t have distilleries, blenderies, or bottling capabilities.

Tasting Notes:

None available.

Bottom Line:

There’s not much else known about this label. It has started popping up at competitions and seems to be getting a warm welcome.

Braunstein Distillery Edition 12

Braunstein

ABV: 51.7 %

Average Price: $300

The Whisky:

Braunstein is probably more known as a Danish craft beer brewer than a distiller. That’s about to change. Their whisky prowess is starting to gain international attention (and awards) for a rye whisky that takes on a very local Danish terroir and attention to detail.

Tasting Notes (from the distillery):

A finely balanced, soft, and complex whiskey, aged on an oloroso sherry cask — from one of the oldest whiskey warehouses. The characteristic lightly smoked Braunstein whiskey distillate retains a fresh and fruity impression even after several years of storage. The barrel that has housed dark sherry whiskey contributes a deep and rich character of dried fruit.

Bottom Line:

This is going to be damn-near impossible to find in the U.S. unless you’re an importer or really in the know. Still, we know Braunstein makes one hell of a craft beer, so we’d imagine this is winning awards for a reason.

Bushmills Black Bush

Casa Cuervo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $34

The Whisky:

Black Bush is a more refined version of the Bushmill’s white label. The juice is a blend of grain and malt whiskeys aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The final blend leans more into the single malt juice with a balance set towards the sherry profile rather than the bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

That sherry jamminess and plumminess come through with a hint of vanilla, apricot, and nuts. The palate carries on along that path and adds in a serious Christmas spice matrix, with amped-up nuttiness and a touch more vanilla. The end is fairly quick, sherry-fueled with spice and sweetness, and slightly malty.

Bottom Line:

This is a fantastic mixing whiskey that really harnesses the essence of “Irish Whiskey” in every sip.

Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego Solera Aged Rye

Doc Swinsons

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $50

The Whisky:

Doc Swinson’s is all about finding the best barrels of whiskey and treating it to a finishing touch to really help them pop. In this case, that finishing touch was using the solera method of keeping a little bit of juice in the barrels as they’re moved and refilled, creating a sort of lasting lineage to the final product.

Tasting Notes (from the blender):

Light oak, drizzled caramel, velvet tides of fig, poached pears with cinnamon, a hint of anise, followed by long grassy cane sugar.

Bottom Line:

Their tasting notes sound delicious and you can also find bottles pretty easily. For only $50, this feels like a worthy risk.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $32

The Whisky:

This is Elijah Craig’s entry-point bottle. The mash is corn-focused, with more malted barley than rye (12 percent and ten percent respectively). Originally, this was branded as a 12-year-old whiskey. The brand decided to move away from that labeling and started blending younger whiskeys in with the 12-year-old stuff.

Tasting Notes:

Classic bourbon notes greet you with a clear focus on vanilla, caramel, oak, orchard fruit, and a touch of fresh mint. The palate holds onto those flavors while adding in mild Christmas spices with a touch of oak and tobacco. The end is short, simple, and will leave you with a warm Kentucky hug.

Bottom Line:

Heaven Hill will rarely mislead you with their products. Their small-batch bourbon remains one of our perennial favorites that’s also amazingly affordable. That said, this is definitely a mixing whiskey for us.

Garrison Brothers Laguna Madre

Garrison Brothers

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: Sold Out

The Whisky:

Garrison Brothers upped their game with this one-off limited release. They’ve taken their much-loved straight bourbon and finished it in hard-to-get Limousin oak casks under that blazing Texan sun. The end results are all about subtly coaxing out chocolate, spice, and vanilla notes from that oak.

Tasting Notes (from the distiller):

Intense A&W Root Beer meets Dublin Dr. Pepper. Vanilla bean. Hazelnut. Saltwater taffy. Hershey’s Kisses. Frosty white chocolate and “ADULTS ONLY” Almond Joy candy bar finish. Pucker up. 101 proof.

Bottom Line:

We’re pretty big fans of Garrison Brothers around here. So if you do see one of these, it’ll probably be worth the big secondary-market mark-up (if it’s not too egregious, that is).

Glenmorangie Signet

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $232

The Whisky:

This Glenmorangie expression is a prime example of something truly special. The juice is a mix of single malts with estate-grown malts and “chocolate malts” (meaning they were roasted until dark and chocolate-y). The hot juice then went into new American oak (not ex-bourbon) for varying amounts of time.

While there’s no age statement, there are barrels up to 40 years old in this mix.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a note of dried apricots with a hint of clove, leading towards a very light dark orange chocolate. The chocolate amps up the bitterness, reaching espresso bean levels as some eggnog spice kicks in with a silky mouthfeel and a touch of wet tobacco. The end brings about a flourish of bright citrus zest that dries everything out, leaving you with a lingering end and a final note of earthy dried mushrooms.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the most expensive bottles on this list. It’s also a bottle we 100 percent believe is worth that price tag. This is a true “time to level-up” bottle of whisky.

Laws Whiskey Bonded Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Laws Whiskey House

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $74

The Whisky:

This craft whiskey from Colorado tends to always be atop award lists. The juice is a local grain-to-glass experience that highlights the terroir underfoot and the soft water coming down off the Rockies. The whiskey is aged for a minimum of four years and proofed to 100 proof in accordance with bottled-in-bond regulations.

Tasting Notes:

You’re drawn in with the orange-spiked honey sweetness that’s counterpointed by an almost silky black tea bitterness with a floral note. The palate holds onto that bitterness as a spicy stewed plum vibe arrives to carry the taste towards browned butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon sticks sticking out of pound cake. The end is just long enough and leaves you with that bright orange and warming spice.

Bottom Line:

Colorado whiskey is quickly becoming its own thing (much like Texas, Washington, Michigan, etc.). This whiskey is still fairly affordable and accessible. But, it won’t be for much longer — as more people catch onto the beauty of these bottles.

Oban 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

This is a great gateway to both Oban and scotch to have on hand. The juice is classically made and then matured in the Oban storehouses for 14 long years — all within a stone’s throw of the sea.

Tasting Notes:

Citrus, salt, and a billow of peat smoke open this one up in classic fashion. That citrus carries on as a foundation for mild spices, a note of honey, hints of pears, and plummy dried fruits mingle on the tongue. The oak spice and extremely mild peat smoke meet on the end, with a slight malty sweetness as the sip fades.

Bottom Line:

It’s no secret we’re pretty big Oban fans around these parts. This is a great gateway to the brand at an affordable price for something that’s truly brimming with unparalleled craft and quality.

Redemption Barrel Proof High Rye Bourbon

Redemption

ABV: 57.2% (varies)

Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This limited edition from Redemption is all about the barrel picking process. The whiskey starts with a mash of 60 percent corn, 36 percent rye, and four percent malted barley. That rye-heavy juice is then aged for ten long years. Then the Redemption team sorts through those barrels to find the perfect one to bottle, completely untouched.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a definite sense of the whole vanilla bean (husk-to-oils) next to nuttiness and a mild floral flourish that’s fresh and… almost wet. The taste veers away from that and indulges in eggnog spices, rich and buttery toffee, pecans and walnuts, cedar, and a silken vanilla texture. The end is long-ish and has this very distant hint of lemon curd that leads back to those eggnog spices and egg custard creaminess, paired with a little high-proof buzz.

Bottom Line:

This might be one of the best examples of sourced whiskey on the market. A dialed-in whiskey that’s sure to wow.

Spirit of Hven Rye Whiskey

Hven

ABV: 45.6%

Average Price: $70

The Whisky:

This Swedish rye is also starting to turn heads around the world as a world-class rye whiskey. The juice is a small-batch blend of whiskey from 42 Quercus Alba American oak barrels that are a minimum of three years old, with the average hovering around six years old for each cask.

Tasting Notes (from the distiller):

The first scent reveals dark chocolate and deep notes from the heavy charred, air-dried American oak, it is followed up by notes of creamy almond carrot cake. Distinct Fine-tuned peppery notes with light minty hints from the Rye evolves slowly. The whisky is well balanced with round, smooth vanilla, coconut scents from wheat and corn. All kept together with elegant herbal, grassy notes from the malted barley. The taste is strong but not overwhelming. Balance lands mid-front tongue highlighting the creamy sweet-peppery rye character. Elegant bitter tannins play well with reserved acidity and perfectly balanced alcohol strength. Long aftertaste with playful esters and a round oiliness. Wonderful mouthfeel.

Bottom Line:

This is starting to get easier to find in the U.S., which means you should definitely give it a shot if you’re already into rye whiskey.

Stellum Rye

Stellum Spirits

ABV: 58.12%

Average Price: $55

The Whisky:

Stellum works as a blendery, creating subtle and classic bourbons and ryes with equally subtle branding. This bottle is mostly MGP’s 95 percent rye from Indiana, mixed with malted barely-forward ryes from Tennessee and Kentucky. That tinkering creates an alchemy that helps this bottle rise above.

Tasting Notes (from the bottler):

Nose: Stewed apples, peaches, and pears dominate the initial nose, along with an undertone of baking spices. Nutmeg and clove provide a counterbalance to the sweet fruits, while a light mint and licorice note bring further depth to the aroma.

Palate: Aniseed, cardamom, and coriander wake up your palate with an intense spice punch. Notes of lemon peel and tangerine coming from the rye grain provide a nice citrus component to the overall spiciness. As the whiskey breathes in the glass, fresh green apples and spearmint arise, which offers just enough of a sweet component to engage all your taste buds.

Finish: Star anise, white pepper, and mint linger on the palate before fading into a honey-sweetened jasmine green tea.

Bottom Line:

MGP’s 95 percent rye is one of the most sought-after and beloved whiskeys in American right now (Bulleit, WhistlePig, Angel’s Envy are but a few labels selling that particular booze). It seems clear that Stellum’s crew is nudging this already great product towards new heights.

Talisker 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Diageo

ABV: 45.8%

Average Price: $75

The Whisky:

This is one of the most awarded single malts ever. The juice is matured in ex-bourbon casks in Talisker’s warehouse, which is literally feet away from the sea. The subtly peated malts take on a real seaside feel as those years tick past, creating a whisky that will not disappoint.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a distance to Talisker that draws you in on the nose — I like to describe it like campfire smoke smelled from a few hundred yards down a rainy beach. The sea spray mellows the smoky peat to a fine point as oyster shells dance with almost pears rinsed in seawater, dried apricot, and rich malt. The end doesn’t overstay its welcome and reminds you of oysters, liquor, and that smoldering campfire two coves over.

Bottom Line:

This is one of our favorite whiskies of all time. It’s also considered one of the best whiskies on the planet. So yeah, give it a shot already.

Templeton Rye 6 Year

Templeton Rye Spirits

ABV: 45.75%

Average Price: $46

The Whisky:

Speaking of MGP, this is that classic 95 percent rye that Templeton brings to Iowa and touches up with their own, local water and own-make. The brand and taste of this whiskey are meant to recreate the rye whiskey that was very popular in the Iowa area pre-Prohibition and honor that deep local history.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with hints of floral honey next to eggnog spices with creamy vanilla and toffee sweetness. The taste veers very fruity with hints of ripe cherry and pear driving back towards spice and dark chocolate. The end lingers fairly long and leaves you with bitter chocolate spice and cherry.

Bottom Line:

Templeton has just gone through a big rebranding and has been distilling its own juice since 2017 now. It’s likely we’re on the last legs of their sourcing of whiskey, as their own-make starts to make up the lion’s share of these blends.

The Busker Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Royal Oak Distillery

ABV: 44.3%

Average Price: $32

The Whisky:

This whiskey from Royal Oak Distillery in County Carlow is all about the Irish single malt experience. The Irish whiskey is triple distilled and then aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for an undisclosed amount of time. The barrels are then vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes (from the distiller):

The Busker Single Malt is a deep golden whiskey. It begins with an arrangement of fruit, which gently leaves space for an explosion of pine essence and malt biscuit. The palate is very intense, with rich, chocolate notes. The whiskey concludes with a sweet and creamy finish.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those expressions that we have seen on the shelf and just haven’t had the time to get around to yet. Given this accolade, it looks like it’s time to give it a try and see what all the fuss is about.

TX Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co.

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $48

The Whisky:

Firestone & Roberston Distilling is helping Texas whiskey dominate the game right now. Their bourbon is all about the grain-to-glass experience with Texan grains, water, and yeasts in the base of this spirit. The juice is then aged for a minimum of four years under that heavy Texas sun until it’s just right for blending, proofing, and bottling in Firestone’s hefty bottles.

Tasting Notes:

This one draws you in with this lovely nose of maple syrup with dried wildflowers and cinnamon sticks right in the syrup bottle. The sweetness holds on as the spice leans towards eggnog levels, with a slight fig savoriness and vanilla creaminess. The end is long, dark, and leaves you with a serious vanilla tobacco chew buzzing.

Bottom Line:

This is a bold whiskey with a low-ish ABV. It’s very much a nice sipper with a rock but really shines as a cocktail base for an old fashion or even a julep.

TX Blended Whiskey

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co.

ABV: 41%

Average Price: $38

The Whisky:

Sticking with Texas, this expression is Firestone & Robertson’s first release and is a blend of sourced whiskeys that are brought together in Texas and cut with their local water. The mix is said to be comprised of straight bourbons married with single malts that matured in ex-bourbon casks.

Tasting Notes (from the distiller):

Nose: Vanilla bean, pear, slightly sweet. Palate: Honey butter, banana, caramel. Finish: Long, smooth, no burn.

Bottom Line:

Given how much love the brand’s bourbon (deservedly) gets, this is worth giving a shot as a slightly cheaper cousin. We’d probably use it more for mixing though.

Wild Turkey American Honey

Campari Group

ABV: 35.5%

Average Price: $22

The Whisky:

This flavored whiskey from Wild Turkey is a blend of honey liqueur with their own signature Wild Turkey straight bourbon. The honey liqueur is the star of the show and brings the ABVs down to a very crushable 71 proof, especially over ice.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of the bourbon left in this sip. Hints of orange zest, cinnamon, and caramel corn lurk in the background. Really though, this is a sweet and very honeyed whiskey that lets the saccharine nature of the honey dominate.

Bottom Line:

We’re not big fans of liqueur-based flavored whiskeys. Still, this is fine if you’re using it as a base for a cocktail and want to jettison bar syrups. We would argue, however, that the Wild Turkey Honey Sting (with a sharp cinnamon spice) is the superior option if you’re in need of a flavored bourbon.


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

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