Life

A Whiskey Writer Shares His Favorite Bottle Of Whiskey From Each State

Christopher Osburn has spent the past fifteen years in search of “the best” — or at least his very favorite — sips of whisk(e)y on earth. In the process, he’s enjoyed more whisk(e)y drams than his doctor would dare feel comfortable with, traveled to over 20 countries testing local spirits, and visited more than fifty distilleries around the globe.

America is a wildly varied country — in topography, culture, climate, and people. The mountain folk of Colorado live a whole different sort of existence than the people residing in the Florida Everglades. The same goes for the citizens of dusty, southwestern cities like El Paso and those who own second homes on Cape Cod. So it should come as no surprise that America’s whiskey distilleries are equally diverse.

That being said, there are over 2,000 craft distilleries in the US (barring some COVID closures). So picking one whiskey from each state is quite the epic task. Seriously. And agonizing too, in the case of certain distillery-rich states (I see you, KY).

I’m going to attempt to do it anyway.

Just to be clear, though. These are my picks for the absolute best bottle of whiskey from every state. Not Uproxx’s. Each choice is calibrated to my unique palate, which is cultured but probably not perfect. Knowing that, feel free to let me know in the comments exactly where I went wrong.

Alabama (John Emerald Single Malt Whiskey)

ABV: 43%

Price: $47.99

The Story:

This American single malt is the first non-moonshine whiskey to be produced in Alabama in 100 years. It’s made using malted barley and smoked with pecan and peach wood.

Tasting Notes:

The result of this unique process is a whiskey with a subtle nose of dried fruits, charred oak, campfire smoke, and flavors of brown sugar, dried orange peel, and spicy cinnamon.

The finish is long, mellow, and ends with a final flourish of spice.

Alaska (Alaska Outlaw Whiskey)

ABV: 40%

Price: $43

The Story:

Alaska Outlaw Whiskey is produced in the hometown of Sarah Palin, but don’t hold that against the brand. Aged for three years in charred, American oak casks, this small-batch whiskey is surprisingly mellow.

Tasting Notes:

It starts with a nose of sweet cherries, toasted oak, and sweet vanilla. From the first sip, your palate will be met with spicy cinnamon, dried apricots, caramel, and charred wood. The finish is medium in length, warming, and filled with more caramel sweetness.

Arizona (Whiskey Del Bac Dorado)

ABV: 45%

Price: $59

The Story:

Whiskey Del Bac has quickly become one of the most popular whiskey brands in Arizona. Its flagship Del Bac Dorado is its “must-try.” The Scottish-style single malt is made from 100% malted barley that’s dried over mesquite wood.

Tasting Notes:

This is a whiskey with a pleasing nose, filled with campfire smoke, toasted marshmallows, and subtle hints of maple syrup. The first sip is filled with rich caramel, sweet vanilla, and a solid kick of wood smoke.

The finish is medium in length, smooth, and ends with a lovely hit of sweet smoke.

Arkansas (Rock Town Single Barrel Bourbon)

ABV: 46%

Price: $65

The Story:

This grain-to-glass whiskey has won numerous awards and is undeniably the best whiskey coming out of Arkansas. It’s made in small batches with a super high corn content (82%). It’s aged in new, charred oak barrels and has the designation as the first-ever bourbon distilled in Arkansas.

Tasting Notes:

This award-winner begins with aromas of caramel corn, rich vanilla, nutty almonds, and subtle toasted oak. Flavors of cocoa, more caramel, subtle cinnamon spice, and candied fruits are prevalent in each sip. The finish is long, warm, and filled with indulgent chocolate and spicy pepper.

California (Greenbar Slow Hand Six Woods Whiskey)

ABV: 42%

Price: $52.99

The Story:

This is truly a unique whiskey. It begins as an American single malt that’s matured for three years. Then it finds its way into a French oak vat, littered with red oak, grape wood, hickory, and maple staves.

Tasting Notes:

The addition of resting on the staves gives this whiskey a well-balanced, very complex flavor with initial aromas of cracked black pepper and Christmas spices before moving on to the dried cherries and sweet caramel. The first sip is filled with charred oak, butterscotch, clover honey, and creamy vanilla. The finish is medium, very warming, and ends with a nice dash of pepper.

Colorado (Stranahan’s Snowflake Whiskey)

ABV: 47%

Price: $99

The Story:

Stranahan’s Snowflake Whiskey is truly a limited edition. It’s only available for one day every December. This very special whiskey is first aged in charred, white American oak casks before finishing in wine, sherry, cognac, rum, and tequila barrels. The result is a complex, very different whiskey that you’ll never forget (if you get a chance to try it).

Tasting Notes:

While every batch is a little different, I tried the 2019 version. The first aromas I’m met with are those of sweet sherry, dried orange peels, and subtle cinnamon. The first sip is bursting with hints of caramelized sugar, rich honey, and sweet cherries. The finish is medium in length, warming, and ends with a final kick of spice.

Connecticut (Litchfield Distillery Batchers Port-Cask-Finish Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $54.99

The Story:

Litchfield’s straight bourbon whiskey has won numerous awards and for good reason. It’s aged to perfection in charred American oak casks. This expression ramps up the flavor by aging it an extra year in port wine barrels. You’ve probably seen it done by the likes of Angel’s Envy and others.

Tasting Notes:

Aging in port wine barrels has given the nose supremely sweet aromas of dried fruits, vanilla, and toffee. The first sip yields even more sweetness with honeyed cream, charred oak, and caramelized sugar up front, followed by candied fruits and subtle cinnamon. The finish is long, dry, and ends with a tannic hit of port wine sweetness.

Delaware (Dogfish Head Alternate Takes: Vol. 2)

ABV: 45%

Price: $51.99

The Story:

Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione has been known to push the boundaries in the beer world. Recently, he’s branched out into spirits, specifically whiskey. His best offering to date is Alternative Takes: Vol. 2. It’s distilled with a mash bill of malted barley and applewood smoked malt. It’s first aged in charred, American oak cask before finishing in casks the held Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron brown ale.

Tasting Notes:

If you give this whiskey a proper nosing, you’ll be welcomed with clover honey, subtle spices, and malty ales scents. The palate delivers salted caramel, sweet vanilla, and dried fruits. The finish is long, warming, and ends with hints of sticky toffee and more vanilla sweetness.

Florida (St. Augustine Florida Straight Bourbon)

ABV: 44%

Price: $49.99

The Story:

You’ve probably never heard of Florida Straight Bourbon. In the simplest terms, it’s a bourbon made in Florida. The base is a mash bill of 60% Florida corn. The other ingredients are barley and wheat. There’s no rye in this whiskey and it’s aged for three years in charred oak casks.

This mashbill creates a much mellower, soft bourbon.

Tasting Note:

Like all good whiskeys, this offering should be nosed before taking a sip. Your nostrils will fill with the scents of cinnamon sugar, toasted marshmallows, and dried apricots. The first sip will bring you cooking spices, sweet toffee cookies, dark chocolate, nutty almonds, and rich caramel.

The finish is mellow, long, and ends with a final punch of sweet cream.

Georgia (Old Fourth Bottled in Bond Bourbon)

ABV: 50%

Price: $48

The Story:

Old Fourth Distillery is cranking out some great whiskey in Atlanta, but it’s bottled in bond bourbon is its best offering. This award-winning, unfiltered 100 proof whiskey is made using a traditional mash bill and was limited to only 75 barrels. It’s a truly limited-edition bourbon that’s 100% worth seeking out.

Tasting Notes:

The nose begins with the scent of the barrelhouse itself. It then dives into sweet corn, velvety vanilla, caramel, and subtle cinnamon. The first sip is filled with maple syrup, grass, cocoa powder, and butterscotch. The finish is long, very warm, and ends with one last hint of brown sugar.

Hawaii (Ko’olau Old Pali Road Whiskey)

ABV: 43%

Price: $59.99

The Story:

Named for the mountains where, according to legend, the gods live, Ko’olau is a Hawaiian whiskey that’s starting to make waves in the spirits world. Made from local corn and blended with water filtered through volcanic rock, this small-batch whiskey is limited to 1,800 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is very sweet and light, with hints of butterscotch and honey. The first sip is highlighted with a nutty sweetness followed by sweet vanilla and brown sugar. The finish is long, warming, and ends with notes of almonds, cream, and caramelized sugar.

Idaho (Seven Devils Straight Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $30

The Story:

This award-winning whiskey from Koenig Distillery in Caldwell, Idaho should immediately be on your radar. It gets its name because the water source for this bourbon is the Seven Devils Mountains. Aged between two and five years in new, charred, American oak casks, this small-batch whiskey is the best the Gem state has to offer.

Tasting Notes:

The first aromas to fill your nostrils are candied orange peel, maple syrup, and caramel corn. The first sip brings you sweet milk chocolate, clover honey, sweet vanilla, and subtle, spicy cinnamon. The finish is long, warming, and ends with an extra punch of nutty sweetness.

Illinois (FEW Straight Bourbon Whiskey)

ABV: 46.5%

Price: $49.99

The Story:

While Koval is making some great offerings, my absolute favorite Illinois whiskey is FEW Straight Bourbon. This three-grain bourbon is a mix of southern style and northern rye. Made in small batches in new, charred, American oak barrels, this award-winning bourbon will make you rethink your assumptions about the style when it comes from distilleries outside of Kentucky.

Tasting Notes:

One of the unique aspects of this whiskey is the fact that it’s fermented with a yeast normally used to make saison beer. This adds a subtle peppery scent to the nose that works well with the other aromas of cinnamon, caramel, and brown sugar. The first sip will blow you away with the level of mellow drinkability and hints of charred oak, caramel corn, sweet honey, and nougat.

The finish is long, subtly warm, and ends with a wisp of caramel apple.

Indiana (George Remus Repeal Reserve Series IV)

ABV: 50%

Price: $93.99

The Story:

For years, Indiana’s MGP was simply a rye whiskey distiller that made juice for George Dickel, Angel’s Envy, Bulleit, and others. But releases this high rye bourbon every fall. The fourth iteration, this limited-edition whiskey gets its flavor from two different mash bills. 77% of the blend consists of a bourbon made with 21% rye and the other is made up of a bourbon with 36% rye.

It’s spicy, sweet, and perfectly rounded.

Tasting Notes:

Take time to give this whiskey a proper nosing. You’ll find hints of cracked black pepper, dried fruits, and charred oak. The first sip yields caramelized sugar, butterscotch, baking spice, and vanilla beans. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice kick of toasted wood and spice.

Iowa (Cedar Ridge Iowa Bourbon)

ABV: 43%

Price: $19.99

The Story:

Templeton Rye would have made the list for Iowa, but it’s made at MGP in Indiana now. That bumps up Cedar Ridge and its Iowa Bourbon to the top spot. This award-winning whiskey is Iowa’s first bourbon since prohibition and is made using corn from founder Jeff Quint’s farm.

It doesn’t get more grain-to-glass than that.

Tasting Notes:

The flavor experience starts with the nose. Aromas of sweet corn, toffee, dried cherries, and caramel cake fill your nostrils. Sipping this whiskey brings you nutty almonds, rich vanilla, toasted caramel, and charred oak. The finish is mellow, long, and ends with hints of dried fruits and cinnamon.

Kansas (Union Horse Reunion Straight Rye)

ABV: 46.5%

Price: $51.50

The Story:

It’s not easy to find a whiskey from Kansas without mistakenly picking one from Missouri. But Union Horse Reunion Straight Rye is a real winner from the Sunflower State. Made 100% high-quality rye and distilled in copper pot stills, this whiskey is spicy, robust, and perfect for fans of high-rye whiskeys. It’s aged to perfection for five years in new, charred, oak barrels.

Tasting Notes:

At first whiff, your nose will be met with hints of peppery rye, sweet caramel, and toasted marshmallows. The first sip is full of caramelized sugar, spicy cinnamon, subtle ginger, and cracked black pepper. The finish is long, warming, and ends with one final hit of peppery rye.

Kentucky (Booker’s Bourbon)

ABV: 60-65%

Price: $129

The Story:

I could easily write a list of the fifty best whiskeys in Kentucky alone. But if I had to pick one (and I’m not talking about the ridiculously hard to find unicorn bottles), I’d have to go with the tried and true Booker’s Bourbon. It’s unfiltered, uncut, warming, and perfectly suited for sipping neat or on the rocks.

Tasting Notes:

Take a whiff of this award-winning whiskey before taking a sip and you’ll be met with strong hints of caramelized sugar, hot cinnamon, and toasted wood. The first sip is filled with charred vanilla, marshmallows, espresso, cocoa powders, and caramel.

The finish is long, very warm (the Kentucky hug!), and ends with a final hint of peppery spice.

Louisiana (LA1 Whiskey)

ABV: 47%

Price: $45

The Story:

This Louisiana whiskey gets its name (LA1) because it’s the first aged whiskey in the state since prohibition. Made with a mash bill of corn, rye, barley, and rice, this small-batch whiskey is 94 proof and supremely drinkable. It’s also great for mixing into a boulevardier or your favorite whiskey cocktail.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find sweet brown sugar, spicy rye, and honey. The first sip brings you flavors of fruit cake, chocolate, sweet vanilla, and cracked back pepper. The finish is long, warm, and ends with even more of that spicy rye.

Maine (Fifty Stone Single Malt Whiskey)

ABV: 45%

Price: $44.99

The Story:

This whiskey from Maine Craft Distilling in Portland is made in the Scottish style. It starts with barley from Maine. But it ramps up the Scotch vibe even more by using local peat and seaweed to smoke the malts. It’s aged in new, charred, American oak barrels.

The result is a taste of Scotland made in the heart of New England.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of campfire smoke, ocean brine, sweet caramel, and cinnamon. Rich vanilla, dried fruits, and brown sugar flavors are tempered by a subtle smoky backbone. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a final kick of peaty smoke.

Maryland (Sagamore Straight Rye Whiskey)

ABV: 41.5%

Price: $41.99

The Story:

Sagamore gets its name from Sagamore Farm and the spring house that was built in 1909 where the distillery still gets the limestone-filtered spring water used to make its whiskeys. While the distillery has multiple award-winning offerings, it’s hard to top its flagship straight rye. It’s a blend of two different rye mash bills: a high rye and a low rye. It then adds pure Maryland limestone-filtered spring water. The result is a spicy, sweet, and perfectly mellow rye whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with cooking spices, brown sugar, and sweet cream. Sipping it, you’ll be treated to cinnamon, cloves, peppery rye spice, nutty almonds, and caramel. The finish is medium in length, warm, and ends with a final hint of butterscotch.

Massachusetts (Berkshire Bourbon)

ABV: 43%

Price: $49.99

The Story:

This award-winning small-batch bourbon is made up of 72% corn that’s sourced from farms within miles of the distillery. It’s triple-distilled before being aged in charred, American oak barrels. It’s proofed using the area’s famous spring water.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with hints of caramel corn, subtle cinnamon, and peppery rye. Sipping this whiskey, your palate will fill with flavors of pecans, rich caramel, and Christmas spices. The finish is long, smooth, and ends in a final crescendo of creamy vanilla.

Michigan (Journeyman Featherbone Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $49.99

The Story:

This highly regarded bourbon is made to pay homage to the whiskey of the same name that was distilled on the same site prior to prohibition. Made with 70% corn, this 90 proof bold, complex whiskey is perfect for anyone looking for a throwback to a bygone era of spirits production.

Tasting Notes:

If you spend time nosing it, you’ll reveal aromas of dried orange peel, cinnamon, sweet corn, and brown sugar. The first sip brings up flavors of rich caramel, dried fruits, more spicy cinnamon, honey, and creamy vanilla. The finish is medium, subtly warm, and ends with a final kick of citrus and cinnamon.

Minnesota (Crooked Water Old Hell Roaring Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $55.99

The Story:

Heather Manley founded Crooked Water back in 2013. Since then, the distillery has been cranking out high-quality spirits. One of its best is Old Hell Roaring Bourbon, a double-barreled, high-proof whiskey that gets added flavor from a proprietary toasting and smoking regimen.

Tasting Notes:

Enjoy a healthy dose of charred wood, subtle smoke, and sweet cream on the nose. Then take a sip and enjoy more subtle campfire smoke, paired with cinnamon-covered apples, honey, caramel, and fruit cake. The finish is long, full of pleasurable heat, and ends with a final flourish of woodsmoke.

Mississippi (Old Soul Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $45.49

The Story:

Old Soul is a blend of high-rye bourbons. 55% is a straight bourbon aged for 4 years, 8 months. 35% is a straight bourbon aged for four years, three months. The final bourbon was aged for over two years. The whiskeys are distilled in Indiana and Mississippi. It’s made in limited-edition, hand-selected batches.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll smell hints of yellow cake, sweet vanilla, and charred oak. The first sip yields sticky toffee, subtly spicy rye, sweet honey, and creamy vanilla. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a healthy dose of cracked black pepper.

Missouri (Rallypoint Straight Rye)

ABV: 45%

Price: $35

The Story:

This rye is a mixture of spicy and smooth. It’s uncut, unfiltered, and high proof. But even at 90 proof, this St. Louis-made rye whiskey is well suited for old fashioneds, whiskey sours, or slow sipping on its own.

Tasting Notes:

You’re met with aromas of sweet cream, sugary vanilla, and just a kiss of peppery rye. The first sip is filled with caramelized sugar, dried fruits, soft leather, and white pepper. The finish is long, mellow, and ends with a nice combination of butterscotch and spice.

Montana (Wildrye Five Drops Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $64.99

The Story:

There are two keys to the success of Five Drops Bourbon. The first is the use of pure Montana spring water. The second is the fact that this whiskey is matured in smaller-than-normal charred, white oak barrels in a rickhouse that has no temperature controls. The distillers believe that the massive swings in temperature over the years give this bourbon a unique flavor profile.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of fresh wood scents as well as sweet caramel and brown sugar. The first sip is filled with the flavors of caramel corn, rich vanilla, and subtle smoke. The finish is medium, warming, and ends with a nice final kick of charred oak and toffee.

Nebraska (Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whiskey)

ABV: 43%

Price: $39.99

The Story:

Many distilleries have attempted to make Scottish style whiskeys in America. Many of them barely resemble scotch. Cut Spike is one that works. This single malt whiskey is made using malted barley in Scottish-made pot stills and aged for only two years.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is spicy with hints of cinnamon, cloves, and subtle pepper. This moves into scents of vanilla beans and brown sugar. The first sip is brimming with hints of dried fruits, candied orange peels, caramel apples, rich vanilla, and subtle charred oak. The finish is long, full of warmth, and ends with a great mixture of baking spice and vanilla.

Nevada (Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon)

ABV: 45%

Price: $37.99

The Story:

It doesn’t get much more grain-to-bottle than Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon. This “whiskey farm” literally grows the ingredients that go into each bottle. Made from a combination of corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley, this offering was aged for four years.

Tasting Notes:

If you give this whiskey a nosing, you’ll find hints of candied orange peel, dried apricots, charred wood, and sweet vanilla. Sipping it yields herbal notes, along with sweet corn, grass, dried wood, toasted caramel, and subtle cracked black pepper.

The finish is long, full of warming heat, and ends with more spicy rye pepper.

New Hampshire (Chocorua Rye Whiskey)

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_BDKYhHBp9/

ABV: 45%

Price: $54.99

The Story:

New Hampshire might not be known for its rye whiskey, but Chocorua is about to change that. Made by Tamworth Distilling, this complex and smooth whiskey is made using only one crop of organic rye farmed in Maine. It’s distilled in the Tennessee sour mash style to give it a unique flavor profile you won’t soon forget.

Tasting Notes:

The first time you nose this whiskey, you’ll be surprised at the natural, outdoor scents of grass and hay that are followed by dried cherries and a slight hint of cinnamon. The first sip delivers spicy rye, sweet caramel, spiced apples, and fresh mint.

The finish is medium, warm, and ends with a final kick of peppery spice.

New Jersey (Jersey Spirits Crossroads Bourbon)

ABV: 43.5%

Price: $39.99

The Story:

This four-grain bourbon (the same mash bill as its Barnegat White Whiskey) is the first to be made in New Jersey since prohibition. It was distilled at least three times to 140 proof before being matured in new, charred American oak casks.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with hints of charred oak, sweet corn, and spicy cinnamon. The first sip is full of flavors like rich vanilla, subtle peppery rye, crème Brulee, and dried cherries. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice final hint of vanilla and spice.

New Mexico (Santa Fe Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey)

ABV: 46%

Price: $49.99

The Story:

If you crack open a bottle of Colkegan and you don’t know anything about it, you’d assume you’re sipping on a scotch whisky. Little do you know that you’re enjoying an American single malt that was made in New Mexico.

Like many of your favorite scotch whiskies, this unique offering was made with peat-smoked malted barley.

Tasting Notes:

Crack this one open and you’ll be sure it’s an Islay single malt. The nose is filled with hints of vanilla, sweet chocolate, and subtle peat smoke. The first sip is filled with dried fruits, toasted marshmallow, rich caramel, and just a wisp of woodsmoke.

The finish is medium, mellow, and ends with a final flourish of peaty campfire.

New York (Iron Smoke Straight Bourbon)

ABV: 40%

Price: $45.99

The Story:

This award-winning bourbon is a little different than what you’d expect and that’s not such a bad thing. This small-batch whiskey — produced in Fairport, New York — is a four-grain bourbon made using applewood smoked wheat to give it a unique, sweet, and smoky flavor not usually associated with bourbons.

Tasting Notes:

Your nose will be greeted with the expected flavors of brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla. But behind that is subtle, sweet smoke. The first sip yields peppery spice, charred oak, sweet vanilla, and a continued backbone of woodsmoke. The finish is medium in length, dry, and ends with a return to that sweet smoke from the nose.

North Carolina (Seventeen Twelve Bourbon)

ABV: 43%

Price: $29.99

The Story:

The first bourbon made in North Carolina since prohibition, Seventeen Twelve Bourbon is made with corn, rye, and barley from Carolina farmers. It’s distilled twice and aged for a minimum of two years in a new, charred, American oak cask that is also filled with toasted yellow birch wood.

The final product is unfiltered, bold, and unforgettable.

Tasting Notes:

This whiskey begins with a nose of spicy cinnamon, baking spices, and charred oak. The first sip is full of creamy vanilla, clover honey, and brown sugar. The finish is long, full of warming heat, and ends with a nice kick of white pepper.

North Dakota (Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey)

ABV: 46%

Price: $74.99

The Story:

Proof Artisan Distillers crafted the first single malt whiskey produced in North Dakota since prohibition. Made from 100% non-GMO malted barley, it’s matured in new, charred, American oak casks before being finshed in ex-bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes:

The aroma is filled with rich malty scents as well as charred oak and caramelized sugar. Once you take a sip, the flavors you’ll find include spicy cinnamon, crème Brulee, sticky toffee, and honey. The finish is short, subtly warm, and ends with a final whisper of sweet caramel.

Ohio (Oyo Oloroso Wheat Whiskey)

ABV: 51%

Price: $89.99

The Story:

Made by Middle West in Columbus, Ohio, Oyo Oloroso Wheat Whiskey is first aged in lightly toasted, American white oak casks for several years. It’s then finished in Oloroso sherry butts. The result is a highly complex, soft, super sippable whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Your nose will first fill with the scents of cinnamon, almonds, and sweet sherry. The first sip brings forth dried cherries, velvety vanilla, bitter chocolate, and subtle peppery spice. The finish is long, warming, and ends with more caramel sweetness.

Oregon (Westward American Single Malt)

ABV: 45%

Price: $64.75

The Story:

Top of its class when it comes to American single malts, Westward’s offering is made using locally sourced malted barley and ale yeast. It’s matured in charred, new American oak casks in a barrelhouse that sees the highs and lows of every season.

The result is a refined, well-balanced whiskey worth stocking up on.

Tasting Notes:

Like a great scotch, the first aromas include creamy vanilla, caramelized sugar, and cooking spices. The first sip is filled with dried fruits, rich malts, and brown sugar. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a hit of dark chocolate and cinnamon.

Pennsylvania (Wigle Pennsylvania Straight Rye)

ABV: 42%

Price: $45

The Story:

Aged between two and four years, this organic rye whiskey was made in the traditional Monongahela style. Made in a pot still using 68% locally sourced rye, it’s a great whiskey for rye novices — as it’s lighter, softer, and smoother than some of the spicier varieties on the market.

Tasting Notes:

Your nostrils will be filled with the spicy scent of cracked pepper along with dried apricots, sweet vanilla, and rich honey. The first sip is full of spicy cinnamon, almond cookies, various herbs, and a spicy rye backbone. The finish is medium, supremely mellow, and ends with a spicy kick.

Rhode Island (Sons of Liberty Uprising American Single Malt Whiskey)

ABV: 40%

Price: $39.99

The Story:

Like all single malts, this offering was made using 100% malted barley. But unlike many other single malts, Uprising includes dark malts that are often used to brew stout beers. This and aging in charred, American oak barrels as well as toasted French oak, give this whiskey a unique, complex flavor profile.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find hints of dark, roasted malts, coffee, and caramel. The first sip drops in with flavors of sweet vanilla, espresso, dark chocolate, and butterscotch. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a final kick of bitter chocolate.

South Carolina (New Southern Revival Bourbon)

ABV: 47%

Price: $57.99

The Story:

This whiskey from High Wire Distilling in Charleston, South Carolina is a throwback to the classic, easy-drinking bourbons of yore. The grains (heirloom white corn, red winter wheat, malted barley, and Carolina Gold rice bran) are all sourced from southern farms.

Without the addition of spicy rye, this bourbon is extra mellow, soft, and highly drinkable.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with subtle wood smoke, charred oak, and nutty sweetness. The first sip is laden with sour cherries, sweet caramel, toasted vanilla beans, and brown sugar. The finish is medium, warm, and ends with a mellow hint of caramelized sugar.

South Dakota (Badlands Iron Hill Bourbon)

ABV: 40%

Price: $30

The Story:

Unsurprisingly, South Dakota isn’t home to a ton of distilleries. The best of the lot is Badlands and its Iron Hill Bourbon. Made with corn that’s grown on the family-owned ranch, this expression is made in small, limited-edition batches and is only available to purchase at the distillery in Kadoka, South Dakota.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with sweet corn, rich caramel, and subtle cinnamon. The first sip is intense — a full immersion in caramelized sugar, subtle pepper, and clover honey. The finish is medium in length, warming, and ends with a final kick of cinnamon sugar.

Tennessee (George Dickel Rye)

ABV: 45%

Price: $29.49

The Story:

Normally, rye whiskey isn’t chilled-charcoal mellowed. But like all of George Dickel’s whiskeys, its rye gets this treatment. This super high rye whiskey (95%) is supremely spicy and well suited for all of your favorite rye-based cocktails or slow sipping.

Tasting Notes:

If you nose this whiskey, you’ll be met with hints of toasted marshmallows, toasted oak, and a whole lot of spicy, peppery rye. The first sip will bring you hints of dried fruits, caramel, sticky toffee, and cracked black pepper. The finish is long and full of continued spicy heat.

Texas (Balcones Brimstone)

ABV: 53%

Price: $69.99

The Story:

By now, you probably know that I enjoy smoky, Islay Scotches. That’s why I love this corn-based whiskey that’s smoked using Texas scrub oak. It’s smoky, sweet, and perfect for mixing and sipping. Try it instead of your favorite Islay Scotch for a unique dram.

Tasting Notes:

With the obvious reference to the famous Islay smoke, it’s surprising that the first aromas are those of brown sugar and spicy cinnamon. This is followed quickly by woodsmoke and vanilla. The first sip is rich with flavors like tobacco, dried orange peel, caramelized sugar, and more smoke.

The finish is long, warm, and ends with a final kiss of barbecue smoke.

Utah (High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram)

ABV: 49.3%

Price: $99

The Story:

Named for A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, this complex whiskey is a limited-release version of High West Rendezvous Rye that’s finished in French oak port barrels. This gives it a more nuanced, rich flavor that pairs perfectly with the spicy, sweet original rye.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is comprised of sweet chocolate, charred oak, toasted vanilla, and cinnamon. The first sip is downright full of dried cherries, caramelized sugar, sweet honey, toffee, and subtle peppery rye. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a combination of fruity sweetness and spicy cracked black pepper.

Vermont (WhistlePig 10-Year-Old Rye)

ABV: 50%

Price: $74.99

The Story:

This whiskey originated in Alberta, Canada. It was being used as a blending whiskey and was “rescued” by WhistlePig to be a standalone rye. It was aged in new, charred, American oak casks and then bottled in Vermont.

It’s currently the most awarded rye whiskey in the world.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is powerful and potent. First, there’s the candied orange peel. This is quickly followed by toasted oak, peppery spice, and sweet brown sugar. The first sip counterbalances these notes, with caramel, honey, and black pepper. The finish is long, surprisingly mellow, and ends with a final hint of toffee.

Virginia (Virginia Distillery Port Cask Finished Virginia Highland Whiskey)

ABV: 46%

Price: $49.99

The Story:

What begins at a 100% malted barley-based whiskey made in the traditional Scottish style is blended with actual scotch whisky, before being finished in port wine casks. The result is a very unique, global whiskey that should appeal to drinkers from both sides of the pond.

Tasting Notes:

You’ll first be met with aromas of English toffee, cinnamon, cloves, and charred oak. When you take a sip, you’ll be greeted with hints of cereal, dark chocolate, dried orange peels, and sweet caramel. The finish is medium in length, full of warmth, and ends with a nice hint of brown sugar.

Washington (Woodinville Straight Rye)

ABV: 45%

Price: $50.99

The Story:

If you’re a fan of spicy rye whiskey, you can’t miss Woodinville, with its 100% rye mash bill that’s sourced from Washington State farms. Distilled in copper pot stills and aged for at least five years, this is a banger of a spicy rye bomb at any price.

Tasting Notes:

Right away, your nose is filled with the aromas of peppery rye, fresh mint, and charred oak. The first sip is full of sticky toffee, vanilla beans, almond cookies, and cracked black pepper. The finish is long, smooth, and ends with a final kick of pepper mixed with sweet milk chocolate.

West Virginia (Smooth Ambler Big Level)

ABV: 50%

Price: $57.99

The Story:

This wheated bourbon was mashed, distilled, aged, proofed, and bottled at the Smooth Ambler Distillery in West Virginia. This is important because some of the brand’s other whiskeys are made by MGP in Indiana.

It’s aged in charred, American oak barrels for five years to give it a soft, sweet, mellow flavor profile.

Tasting Notes:

If you nose this whiskey, you’ll be met with hints of caramelized sugar, almonds, and cooking spices. The first sip is filled with hints of sweet vanilla, anise, and cinnamon. The finish is medium in length, full of warmth, and ends with a nice dash of spice.

Wisconsin (Great Lakes Still & Oak Bourbon)

ABV: 43%

Price: $33.99

The Story:

This award-winning whiskey is higher in malts than most bourbons (22%). This gives it a smoother, mellower, richer flavor. It’s aged in new, charred, American oak barrels and made in very small batches using only Wisconsin-sourced grains. It’s uncut, unfiltered, and underappreciated.

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of cocoa powder, apple pie, sweet almonds, and sandalwood fill your nostrils. Upon taking a sip, you’ll notice charred oak, creamy vanilla, dried cherry, and leather flavors. The finish is long, full of heat, and ends with a pleasing hit of spicy cinnamon.

Wyoming (Wyoming Small Batch Bourbon)

ABV: 44%

Price: $34.99

The Story:

This small-batch bourbon was distilled, barreled, and bottled proudly in Wyoming (hence the name). It’s a highly sippable 88 proof and has won numerous awards over the years. If you’re looking for a bourbon to try that’s not from Kentucky, you could do much worse than this one.

Tasting Notes:

Surprisingly, there a large floral presence on the nose that quickly moves into more recognizable scents of toasted vanilla, charred oak, and English toffee. The first sip is full of creamy caramel, faint cinnamon, and sweet cake. The finish is medium and filled with spices, with a final hit of sweet cream.

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