The World’s Best Bourbon Flights and Winner According to the 2023 New York Wine and Spirits Competition

by The Tasting Alliance Team  |  09.11.2023

The 2023 New York Wine and Spirits Competition, held at the end of August, has shattered previous records with an unprecedented number of brands vying for top honors. During the competition, a distinguished panel of judges conducted three days of blind tastings, harnessing their palates to delve into some of the best wines and spirits within the industry.

The highly anticipated moment unveiling the winners to the to the public has arrived with a look at the finalists below:

Best Straight Bourbon Finalist: W. L. Weller Full Proof Bourbon

William Larue Weller developed his original bourbon recipe with wheat, rather than rye. Bottled at the same 114 proof the spirit was when it entered into the barrel, this non-chill filtered wheated bourbon forgoes chill filtration to preserve all the naturally occurring residual oils and flavors that occur during the distillation and aging process (potentially making it appear cloudy at cold temperatures). This bourbon balances a rich mouth feel, with robust notes of vanilla and oak. A whiskey that satisfies the demand of the non-chill filtered whiskey enthusiasts, honoring the man who made wheated bourbon legendary.

Best Straight Bourbon Finalist: Stagg Jr. Stagg Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon

This 7th batch of Stagg Jr., bottled at 130 proof it has all the rich and complex flavors you get at barrel strength. Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of the man himself, Mr. George T. Stagg.

Best Straight Bourbon Finalist: George T. Stagg Straight Bourbon

George T. Stagg built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century, during a time known as the Gilded Age of Bourbon. Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of the man himself.

Best Straight Bourbon Finalist: Rabbit Hole Distillery Raceking Founder’s Collection

For this limited-edition bourbon, Kaveh went all in on a distinctive chocolate-forward flavor. Sired from a one-of-a-kind mash bill featuring chocolate-malted wheat and chocolate-malted barley, and carefully aged in new American Oak barrels, Raceking’s deliciously unique taste will add welcome variety to any well-curated collection.

Best Straight Bourbon Finalist: Blue Run Spirits Trifecta Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Blue Run Trifecta Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a small-batch whiskey that demonstrates the delicate balancing act required when blending a high-quality base whiskey with the vivid flavors and aromas from older “wood heat” whiskeys. Trifecta starts with a base of finely crafted six-year-old whiskey, which makes up less than half of the composition of the total liquid. To add additional depth and character, Blue Run Whiskey Director Shaylyn Gammon blends that with two whiskeys aged in the upper reaches of their respective rickhouses, giving them what she calls “wood heat.”

Best Straight Bourbon Finalist: Brother’s Bond Original Cask Strength Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Experience the awakening of the fullness of flavors in perfect balance. Remarkable richness, luxurious texture and a long warming finish. This new limited release of the original cask strength expression showcases Brother’s Bond Bourbon in its undiluted form, unfiltered and uncut at 115.1 proof. Influenced only by the barrel’s qualities, the passing of time and the artful blending of three distinctive mash bills to create a four-grain straight bourbon original cask strength whiskey.

Best Small Batch Bourbon – Up to 10 Years Finalist: K.LUKE Whiskey Company Straight Bourbon

After tasting thousands of single barrels Jonathan and wife Jennifer, decided it was time to create their own brand K.Luke, sharing their love of whiskey and family with you.

K.Luke is a tribute to both of their children Kaitlyn and Lucas.

Best Small Batch Bourbon – Up to 10 Years Finalist: E.H. Taylor Single Barrel

Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, fighting for the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, nearly three decades after he purchased what is now called Buffalo Trace Distillery. During his time, Taylor implemented several innovative methods still used today, including climate controlled aging warehouses. Many of the barrels selected for the E.H. Taylor, Jr. Single Barrel are aged in Warehouse C, which was built by Taylor in 1881 and proven to be an excellent aging warehouse. Each barrel is hand-picked and Bottled in Bond at 100 proof to honor its namesake.

Best Single Barrel Bourbon – Up to 10 Years Finalist: New England Barrel Company Single Barrel Select 5 Year Bourbon (Barrel #17-35)

Big and bold on the palate, this pour is replete with the caramel, vanilla, and oaky goodness one would expect with a Kentucky bourbon but amped up a notch a or two.

Best Single Barrel Bourbon – Up to 10 Years Finalist: Shortbarrel Single Barrel Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Shortbarrel is proud to offer single barrels to stores, groups, restaurants and private individuals. Bottled right here in Atlanta, these barrels are unique as they come. They have each passed our high standards and are ready to be on your bars. 

Best Single Barrel Bourbon – Up to 10 Years Finalist: Fox & Oden Double Oaked Straight Bourbon

A blend of 8 to 15-year-old bourbons finished in a second oak barrel and using 21% and 36% rye mash bills. On the nose, cocoa, caramel, and leather. On the palate, intense caramel, chocolate, pipe tobacco, and baking spices.

Best Single Barrel Bourbon – Up to 10 Years Finalist: Art of the Spirits Ruby Port Finish – Cask Strength “Final Run” Straight Bourbon

Art of the Spirits Cask Strength “Final Run” Straight Bourbon is matured 7 Years in a 53-galion, new American oak barrel followed by a beauty rest in a 4Square Rum cask.

This limited-edition release showcases world renowned Artist, David Uhl, and his oil painting that is inpired by the Great Depression-era outlaws and lovers; Bonnie and Clyde. The result is a perfectly balanced yet complex and layered cask strength whiskey that is truly extraordinary.

Forbes also offered an exclusive sneak peek into the winning brand within one of the most sought-after spirits categories. Enthusiasts of American Whiskey will be pleased to learn that, among a strong field of contenders, the prestigious “Best Bourbon” accolade has been secured by 15 Stars Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon.

This limited edition bottle comprises a blend of straight bourbons selected from both Kentucky and Indiana and has undergone a patient aging process spanning 10 to 13 years. The crowning touch was an additional maturation period in sherry casks hailing from southwestern Spain. Upon nosing this spirit, one will experience an aroma similar to that of cherry coke. On the palate, enthusiasts will savor prominent notes of plum and cinnamon. With its artful balance of nutty and spiced elements, this spirit is sure to captivate the most seasoned bourbon aficionados.

Don’t miss the opportunity to delve deeper into what makes 15 Stars truly exceptional by exploring the feature article on Forbes. Additionally, be sure to take a look at the complete roster of winning products on The Tasting Alliance website.