SFWSC 2020

These Are the Best American Whiskeys, Bourbons and Ryes of the Year, According to Experts


March 31, 2020 Drinks By
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The San Francisco World Spirits Competition was held in early March, where more than 40 judges blind-tasted nearly 3,000 spirits over the course of four days. The judges chose a variety of bottles of brown from all over the world for various whiskey awards, and the SFWSC recently made the full results available. Here are a few of the judges’ favorite American whiskeys.

Best Bourbon Whiskey: Barrell Bourbon Batch 021 10 Year Old Cask Strength

Price: $90
ABV: 53%
State: Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana
The SFWSC’s choice for best bourbon is a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys, aged in American white oak. Enjoy this bourbon with a few drops of water. It’s available in limited quantities in most markets.

Best Straight Bourbon: Woodinville Straight Bourbon

Price: $40
ABV: 45%
State: Washington
This small-batch bourbon uses Washington-grown grains and the state’s dynamic temperature changes to create a spirit that tastes dark and rich with sweet aromas.

Best Small Batch Bourbon – Up to 5 Years: Kings County Distillery Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Price: $62
ABV: 50%
State: New York
Bottled at 100 proof, this bourbon is distilled, aged (for at least four years) and bottled in one New York distillery hence its Bottled-in-Bond status.

Best Small Batch Bourbon – 11 Years and Older: Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Price: $50
ABV: 50.5
State: Kentucky
Eagle Rare, one of the more approachable labels under the Buffalo Trace Distillery umbrella, finds its hard-to-find 17-year-old expression winning a small batch bourbon award for the 1000th time. A part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, this bottle is released every fall in extremely limited quantities. So if you ever find it at MSRP, buy it, then go buy a stack of lottery tickets.

Best Single Barrel Bourbon: Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Price: $60
ABV: 53.5%
State: Kentucky
The Baker’s Single Barrel is new from Jim Beam. In what was originally a blend of barrels, Baker’s is now exclusively single barrel and aged for a minimum of seven years. This is its first major award since the change.

Best Special Barrel-Finished Bourbon: Bardstown Bourbon Company Collaborative Series “Phifer Pavitt Reserve” Bourbon

Price: $125
ABV: 53.5%
State: Tennessee
Bardstown Bourbon Company takes nine-year-old Tennessee straight bourbon whiskey and finishes it for 19 months in cabernet sauvignon barrels to create, what it calls, “voluptuous” and “succulent” tasting notes.

Best Craft Distiller Whiskey: ASW Distillery Maris Otter Single Varietal Single Malt Whiskey

Price: $49
ABV: 54.2%
State: Georgia
This single malt whiskey from an Atlanta distillery uses Maris Otter malt, which it claims is the “Holy Grail” of homebrewing malts. A sip of this whiskey will be reminiscent of Speyside scotches, but with a mashbill that’s 100 percent American.

Best Tennessee Whiskey: Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Sour Mash Whiskey

Price: $40
ABV: 50%
State: Tennessee
Expect a heavy dose of spice with this whiskey made from 100 percent rye. But that boldness subsides to reveal a more subtle, delicate fruity flavor. For $40, this is a must-try for anyone who loves a good US whiskey.

Best Rye Whiskey: Parker’s Heritage Collection 13th Edition Rye Whiskey

Price: $150
ABV: 52.5%
State: Kentucky
The Parker Heritage Collection is a yearly tribute to Heaven Hill’s late master distiller, Parker Beam. Its 13th edition is a rye whiskey that consists of 75 specialty barrels that were charred for 90 seconds, more than twice as long as the standard. The result is a spicy and woody non-chill filtered whiskey that’ll keep you warm and toasty on the inside.

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Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Tyler Chin

Tyler Chin is Gear Patrol’s Editorial Associate for Editorial Operations. He's from Queens, where tempers are short and commutes are long. Too bad the MTA doesn't have a team like Ed-Ops.

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