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9 Best American Whiskeys & Bourbons According To The Denver International Spirits Competition

The Denver International Spirits Competition (DISC) is billed as “the largest spirits competition in The Rockies”. The double-blind tasting competition is held annually and features everything from whiskey and bourbon to tequila and vodka. 

Held by the Wine Country Network, the 2024 Denver International Spirits Competition took place in Broomfield, CO, between March 2nd and March 10th, 2024. 

Each spirit is in with the chance of earning either a silver, gold, or double gold medal. In addition, three spirits are awarded Best In Show (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place). 

To name every gold medal winner in the American whiskey and bourbon categories would take a long time. As such, I have chosen to focus on the Double Gold and Best In Show winners. 

Read on to find out which American whiskeys and bourbons won medals at the DISC 2024, the history of the bottles, tasting notes, and where you can get your hands on these award-winning spirits. 

William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

Credit: Buffalo Trace

Medal: Best of Show – 1st Place
Tasting Notes: Dark brown sugar, vanilla bean, stewed cherry, brown sugar crumble
BUY NOW: $1,500 

A classic expression produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a wheated bourbon. The bourbon’s namesake, William Larue Weller, was instrumental in pioneering a bourbon recipe that replaced rye grain with wheat in the mash bill. 

William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon is an annual release from the distillery. The 2023 William Larue Weller release was aged for 12 years and 6 months before being bottled at 133.6 proof. 

The William Larue Weller bourbon is multi-award winning, having also been named Master at the American Whiskey Masters in 2023

Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

The Stagg expression is bottled at a higher proof than its Antique Collection counterpart. Credit: Buffalo Trace

Medal: Best of Show – 3rd Place
Tasting Notes: Chocolate, brown sugar, rye spice, cherries, cloves, smoke
BUY NOW: $197.94

Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is named for George T. Stagg, an iconic figure in bourbon history. Stagg was at the helm of the O.F.C. Distillery during a pivotal time in history for bourbon production and steered the distillery (now Buffalo Trace) towards commercial success. 

This Stagg expression is different from its George T. Stagg Antique Collection counterpart in that it is bottled at a higher proof/ABV, allowing the notes of rye spice to really sing. A drop of water might be needed to enjoy this bourbon at its finest. 

The whiskey is released in batches four times a year with the seasons. They are slightly easier to get your hands on than the Antique Collection George T. Stagg bourbons.  

Copper Sky Distillery Switch Rail Single Malt 

If you know anything about this whiskey, get in touch!

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Smoky, earthy, malt, chocolate

Copper Sky Distillery is located in Longmont, Colorado. Founded by entrepreneur and former Army vet, Mike Root, Copper Sky is focused on bringing high-quality, community-driven American whiskey to the masses. 

The distillery has so far released a wheated bourbon, a low rye bourbon, and London dry gin, and (of course) the Copper Sky Distillery Switch Rail Single Malt. 

I could not find a huge amount of information on the Switch Rail Single Malt, besides the fact that it is bottled at 90 proof. And, of course, its Double Gold medal at the DISC in 2023. So, if you have any information about this whiskey – or you have tried it for yourself – let us know! 

Dunamis Interstellar Bourbon 

Credit: Dunamis Premium Spirits

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Oak, vanilla, toffee, citrus, caramel
BUY NOW: $61.99 

Dunamis Interstellar Bourbon is, according to the brand’s website, “created for those who understand that power gives us the ability to travel among (and beyond) the stars”. 

The bourbon is made from a mash bill consisting of corn, rye, and malted barley. It is aged for five years in American oak and then, notably, subject to the “Dunamis micron filtration process” as well as “16 chambers of charcoal filtration”. The resulting bourbon is smooth and easy drinking. 

Dunamis (from the Greek word for “highest level of greatness and power” was founded by Sir Victor Young in Florida. Young’s vision was to create “Premium Spirits for Extraordinary People”. As such, the Dunamis Interstellar Bourbon’s Double Gold medal at the Denver International Spirits Competition certainly suggests that this venture is bound for success. 

Stranahan’s Blue Peak American Single Malt Whiskey 

Stranahan’s is a titan of the American single malt category. Credit: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Dried apricot, nutmeg, cinnamon toast, leather, tobacco, butterscotch, brown sugar, baked apples, cayenne, toasted oak
BUY NOW: $35.49 

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is becoming something of a feature in my awards articles. This is a testament to the quality of the single malts coming out of the Denver distillery. Last week, I wrote about Stranahan’s Sherry Cask’s success at the International Whisky Competition. This week, Blue Peak takes center stage. 

This American Single Malt is named for the 13-thousand-foot mountain, Blue Peak, located in Aspen. The whiskey is double distilled and then aged in American oak with level #3 char for four years. It is then finished in Solera casks, imparting a subtle sherry influence. 

Thanks to its top-quality single malts and new Whiskey Lodge, Stranahan’s is fast becoming a single malt lovers’ destination. 

Rocker Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels 

Meticulous design went into Rocker Spirits’ unique bottle.

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes available

Produced by Rocker Spirits in Littleton, CO, this bourbon is distilled from a 70% corn and 30% wheat mash bill before being aged for a minimum of three years in American Oak with varying levels of char. The whiskey was finished in port wine barrels. 

The novelty bottle was inspired by a rusty 1930s oil can found by co-founder, Duston Evans, on a trip to a junkyard. Struck by its vintage design and functional nature, this can formed the basis for the unique Rocker Spirits bottle. 

Modeled after the oil can, and emulating the name of the micro-distillery, the Rocker Spirits bottle rocks forward to dispense the spirit and then rocks backward to stand upright again. 

Rocker Spirits also produces Rocker Rum and Rocker Vodka.

With its unique bottle design, this micro-distillery has carved out a brand identity and presence that has made it popular in its home state. Combined with award-winning bourbons, Rocker is one to watch. 

Heaven’s Door Ascension Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

Heaven’s Door was co-founded by music legend, Bob Dylan. Credit: Heaven’s Door

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Caramel, vanilla, oak, char, toasted grains, cinnamon, nutmeg
BUY NOW: $29.99 

The inaugural bourbon from Heaven’s Door, Ascension, has certainly made an impression in the bourbon and whiskey world. 

Ascension is a blend of two Kentucky Straight Bourbons that have each been aged for a minimum of five years. The bourbons are then blended in small batches and bottled 92 proof (46% ABV). 

The Heaven’s Door brand was founded by music legend, Bob Dylan, and Marc Bushala. In February 2024 the brand announced the launch of The Exploration Series. The series explores the effects of various cask finishes, with the first installment being a 5 year old Tennessee whiskey finished in Calvados casks. 

Another relatively young whiskey brand, having been founded in 2018, Heaven’s Door is expected to officially open its distillery in Pleasureville in Spring 2024. 

Whiskey Thief Distilling Co. Single Barrel Bourbon Limited 

Credit: Bourbon Limited

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Flowers, pear, leather, butterscotch, walnut, maple, graham cracker, honey, apple peel, creamy dark chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, sorghum, lavender

The next Double Gold medal winner at the Denver International Spirits Competition in 2024 is a single barrel expression from the Whiskey Thief Distilling Co. The whiskey was released exclusively through Bourbon Limited

Distilled from a mash bill comprising 75% corn, 18% rue, and 7% malted barley, the bourbon was aged for over 9 years before being bottled from a single barrel at 123 proof. This is the oldest single barrel bourbon yet produced by the Whiskey Thief Distilling Co. 

Located in Frankfort, Kentucky, the brand also distills award-winning gin and peach brandy as well as a Bottled-In-Bond bourbon. 

Another Whiskey Thief Distilling Co. expression, Ghost Rye-ders in the Sky, was also awarded a Double Gold medal at the 2024 DISC. However, I can find very little information about this expression. Again, if you have tried this whiskey or know anything about it, please do get in touch. 

Awards Season Approaches 

So there you have it: the Double Gold and Best of Show winners from the 2024 Denver International Spirits Competition. 

Spring and summer are always busy times for whiskey lovers, as many awards are hosted during this time. Keep an eye on The Whiskey Wash as I give you the low down on yet more award winners, and keep you up-to-date on any new results. 


Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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