The World’s Best Bourbon And American Whiskey From The 2024 World Whiskies Awards

Food & Drink

American whiskey has come a long way since colonists introduced it to the North American continent in the seventeenth century. First drunk as a raw, unaged spirit, it underwent an extended transformation over the centuries into the profoundly complex liquid it is today. Big-bodied bourbons, ryes, Tennessee’s whiskeys, and other regional styles have captured the drinker’s attention, allowing American whiskeys to take their place on the world stage.

This rise to prominence has led to a boom in whiskeys hitting the market in the last decade, fueled by unprecedented growth in the industry. Over 740 whiskey & bourbon distilleries were operating inside the United States in 2023, an increase of 11.6% from 2022, according to a recent report from IBIS World.

The recently announced 2024 World Whiskies Awards eliminates the leg work and deep pocketbook needed for any fan to find the very best to enjoy. Created in 2007 by the folks at Whiskey Magazine, the annual event has become one of the preeminent events in the whiskey world. Using a blind taste-testing format, over 200 judges put 1,500 whiskeys from across the globe through multiple rounds this year to determine the best. Here are the six American whiskies that took home the coveted World’s Best crown.

F.E.W. American Straight Whiskey

Founded in 2011 in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, F.E.W. Spirits is an urban distillery focused on producing small-batch artisanal whiskeys using locally sourced grains. It’s ironic that its American Straight Whiskey took home the World’s Best American Style Whiskey Award. Evanston was the seat of the Prohibition movement and remained a dry country for decades after it was repealed.

The award winner was made from a blend of their rye and bourbon whiskeys, both award winners themselves, joined by a malt whiskey aged in cherrywood-smoked barrels. Bottled at 93 proof, it toes the line between sweet and spicy flavors. Here is what the judges had to say about it.

“A lovely bright touch of fresh sweetness on the nose. The palate brings honey and baking spice, leading into a warm spicy finish.”

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey

If you love good whiskey, then the chances are high that you have heard of Uncle Nearest. Founded in 2017, the brand is the most successful Black-owned distillery globally. Named after Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first African American distiller on record in the United States and the man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, their whiskey has been racking up accolades from the day they turned on their stills.

Their 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey was named the World’s Best Tennessee Whiskey, understandable since it has garnered over 125 awards worldwide since its debut in 2017. A 100-proof blended whiskey, it follows the Lincoln Country Process that Nathan Green helped develop, which is the hallmark of most Tennessee whiskeys. It uses sugar maple charcoal to filter the whiskey, resulting in a smooth, sippable liquid. Here is what the judges had to say about it.

“Nutmeg, black pepper, tobacco, and orange wheel. Citrus splashes over the palate, then butterscotch and subtle baking spices. Mellow finish.”

Laws Whiskey House Four Grain Bourbon Cask Strength

Yet another of the new-growth distilleries that have lit the American whiskey scene on fire. Laws Whiskey House has filled barrels in Denver, Colorado, since 2011. Using only high-quality corn and heirloom wheat, barley, and rye grown inside Colorado, mixed with water flowing from the Rocky Mountains, the brand claims that aging its whiskeys at high altitudes creates a solely unique spirit.

They must be doing something right since their Four Grain Bourbon Cask Strength was named the World’s Best Small Batch Bourbon. Aged in oak barrels for at least three years, it’s made from a grain bill of 60% corn, 20% wheat, 10% rye, and 10% barley. Each bottle’s proof is written on the side since it varies from barrel to barrel, and the bourbon offers a balanced flavor profile of spices and fruits. Here is what the judges had to say about it.

“Pralines with a soft honey note on the nose. The palate has a buttery mouthfeel with a sweet sorghum flavour that is followed by cinnamon and a soft finish that lingers with no sting.”

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

The name Four Roses certainly isn’t a secret to any bourbon lover. The brand is an industry darling known for producing some of the most flavorful bourbons on the market. First distilled in 1888, the brand is one of the founding members of the world-famous Kentucky Distillery Trail, where its distinctive distillery in Lawrenceburg attracts crowds daily. They all come to sip on liquid that continues to set the standard for fine bourbon.

Their Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon was named the World’s Best Single Barrel Bourbon. Each bottling comes from a range of barrels Master Distiller Brent Elliot selects. Bottled at 100 proof, this is a complex bourbon that only opens with each sip. Here is what the judges had to say about it.

“The nose is light and bright with just a hint of vanilla. On the palate there is a lovely rich hit of caramel and fresh apples.”

Breckenridge Port Cask Finish

Here is yet another bourbon from Colorado, further cementing the Mile High State as an up-and-comer in the bourbon world. Holding the title of the “World’s Highest Distillery,” Breckenridge Distillery is located high in the Rocky Mountains at almost 9,600 feet, almost two miles above sea level. Founded in 2008, its whiskeys have been recognized for pushing the envelope on flavors and maturation techniques.

Named the World’s Best Finished Bourbon, their Breckenridge Port Cask Finish highlights their expertise at barrel aging. Finished in a 59-gallon Tawny Port cask, it is bottled at 90-proof and is imbued with flavors of raisins and maple syrup that round it out while softening a naturally spicy liquid. Here is what the judges had to say about it.

“A nose full of buttered popcorn, salted raisins, figs, and walnuts. The palate follows up with fruitcake with a sweet icing, maraschino cherry, and dates. The finish is round, sweet, and balanced.”

1792 12-Year-Old

If you are a bourbon lover searching for the crème de la crème, look no further. Named the World’s Best Bourbon, 1792 12-Year-Old is a bottle that you need to pick up. Produced by the Barton 1792 Distillery that operates out of the bourbon hotspot of Bardstown, Kentucky, it is yet another award winner from the almost century and a half of distillery.

Made using the distillery’s “high Rye” recipe, the liquid inside has matured in charred American white oak barrels for at least twelve years. By allowing their liquid to age for a minimum of 48 separate seasons, the team at Barton ensured that the interaction between the barrel and whiskey would impart maximum flavors. When it comes time to bottle its award-winning bourbon, Master Distiller Danny Kahn pulls a selection of barrels he deems worthy to blend into this superb bourbon. It’s bottled at 96.6 proof. Here is what the judges had to say about it.

“A beautifully well-balanced expression with an inviting nose. There are notes of sweetness throughout, with rich chocolate and delicate caramel. On the finish you are left with a smooth apricot hint.”

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