The Tasting Alliance is one of the world’s preeminent organizations for spirits judging. Throughout each calendar year it organizes a trio of competitions in San Francisco, Singapore and New York. Each of them take place over several days, during which time thousands of entries are evaluated by professional palates from the respective host city. Tasters include industry leaders, bartenders, booze writers, etc.
Near the end of 2023, for the first time in its 6 year history, the Tasting Alliance took the winners from each of these competitions and squared them off against one another, by category, to create a sort of “Spirits Olympics.” And for the past few weeks, they’ve been revealing the winners—the best of the best.
Today we’re reporting exclusively on the winning American whiskey. It’s a brand that remains unfamiliar to many, even ardent fans of bourbon and rye. But if you’ve been following along with our ongoing coverage of contest winners, you’ll almost certainly remember the name: Peg Leg Porker Tennessee Straight Bourbon White Label.
Indeed, it’s a hard name to forget—coined by its founder, award-winning pitmaster Carey Bringle. And he didn’t just come up with the moniker, he actually invented a new filtration process for the liquid. Every drop of the 4-6 year old sourced bourbon runs through hickory charcoal that has been burned down in the pits of his legendary Nashville BBQ eatery.
It’s somewhat inspired by the Lincoln County Process, unique to Tennessee whiskey. But that procedure takes places prior to whiskey maturation in the barrel as opposed to after. And it doesn’t involve smoked meat, of course. Here the intention was to craft a whiskey that pairs perfectly with barbecue. So, as we noted when the 90-proof bourbon won the Singapore World Spirits Competition back in 2023:
“You’ll detect some strong caramel and honey in the nose, as well as smokey, tangy notes across the palate. All of it rides a decidedly nutty mouthfeel, meaning you’ll have plenty of flavors to ponder as each sip slowly fades through the finish.”
In achieving the top spot on the podium, Peg Leg Porker outperformed 15 Stars Sherry Cask—the Best In Class at New York World Spirits—and Buckner’s 13 Year from Augusta Distillery, the top bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Although Bringle and his team don’t reveal the exact distillery responsible for producing Peg Leg, its distinctive mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley strongly suggests a George Dickel provenance. Regardless of where it comes from, you know where it’s going: onto the shelves of liquor stores in select markets, including Tennessee, New York and Florida. You can currently find out online for around $40 a bottle.
It’s one of the many exciting brands that have helped American whiskey sales continue its upward trajectory in the 2020s. In fact, even as the spirits sector showed some stagnation overall in 2023, sales of bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey were up 3.8% last year, according to the latest data from the Distilled Spirits Council. The combined categories climbed to $5.3 billion in domestic sales during that time.