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The Best Age-Statement Bourbon & American Whiskey From The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2024

Awards season is well and truly underway. The San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) 2024 recently published the results of this year’s contest. 

Held by The Tasting Alliance, the SFWSC is one of the most prestigious competitions in the spirits industry, with thousands of entrants and numerous medals up for grabs. The competition was first held in 2000 and is the oldest competition of its kind in the United States. 

The Tasting Alliance has over 40 years of expertise in blind tastings, and the judges at the SFWSC hold the spirits they taste to exacting standards. 

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2024

In this year’s competition, there were 787 Double Gold medal winners across all categories including bourbon, whiskey, gin, vodka, and liqueurs. 

So, in the interest of breaking the results down into bitesize pieces, let’s chat about the best ‘age-statement’ bourbons and American whiskeys at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2024*. 

*The following bourbons and whiskeys are those that have won Double Gold medals at the 2024 SFWSC and were entered with an age (in years) clearly stated in the product name. 

Bulleit Rye 12 Year Old 

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes given
BUY NOW: $48 

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey fans rejoiced in April 2024 when it was announced that the brand’s popular 12 Year Old rye whiskey would be back on the shelves. 

The Bulleit Rye 12 Year Old is distilled from the same mashbill as the brand’s flagship Bulleit 95 Rye: 95% rye and 5% malted barley. The whiskey contains rye whiskeys aged up to 17 years old, with the youngest whiskey being 12 years old, hence the age statement. 

Upon the re-release, Master Blender Andrew MacKay said: “The rye spicy character shines through the age of the whiskeys and balances with those mature, elevated, and well-rounded flavors that originate from hand-selected barrels.” 

The Bulleit Rye 12 Year Old won a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2024. 

Old Ezra 7 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

Credit: Ezra Brooks

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, cinnamon, fine wood, butterfly finish
BUY NOW: $65

The Old Ezra 7 Year is a long-standing expression in the Ezra Brooks portfolio and has previously won several whiskey awards. 

The Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is distilled from a mash bill of corn (at least 51%), rye, and barley. It is then matured for seven years in virgin American charred white oak and bottled at cask strength. 

The Ezra Brooks brand has a fascinating history, including a legal clash with the next brand on our list: Jack Daniel’s. Click here to find out more. 

Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Old Tennessee Whiskey Batch 3 

Credit: Jack Daniel’s

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Oak forward with layers of fruit and cocoa
BUY NOW: $174.99 

Jack Daniel’s needs no introduction. As one of the biggest and best-selling whiskey brands in the world, it is no surprise that Jack Daniel’s is known for continuously producing quality expressions. 

The 10 and 12 Year Old additions to the Jack Daniel’s range were met with much fanfare upon their release. 

A US exclusive, the Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Old pays homage to the early days of Jack Daniel’s and the last release of a 10+ year age statement from the distillery, over 100 years ago. 

This 10 Year Old Tennessee whiskey was drawn from barrels that were methodically matured on different ricks in the distillery’s warehouse. The moving around of the barrels allowed the JD team to extend maturation and taste the effects of weather and climate on the whiskey

Jack Daniel’s 12 Year Old Tennessee Whiskey Batch 2 

Credit: Jack Daniel’s

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Pipe tobacco, oak, butterscotch
BUY NOW: $229.99 

The Jack Daniel’s 12 Year Old, in much the same way, was highly praised upon its release. The additional two years of maturation lends a deep and complex flavor profile to the whiskey. 

Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, Chris Fletcher, kept a careful eye on these barrels as they matured before the whiskey was bottled at 107 proof. 

Along with the 10 Year Old, the 12 Year Old Jack Daniel’s expression has filled a gap in the Tennessee whiskey market. JD fans have long awaited the release of age-statement expressions. Now that they are here, they are raking in the awards. 

Read Nino Kilgore-Marchetti’s recent reviews of the 10 Year Old and 12 Year Old to find out his thoughts. 

MannCave Straight Bourbon 4 Year Cask Strength Distillers Reserve 

Credit: MannCave

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes given
BUY NOW: N/A

It is no surprise that the MannCave Straight Bourbon 4 Year Old Cask Strength Distillers Reserve is currently impossible to find at retail; the bourbon was bottled from just two barrels at cask strength. 

According to MannCave, “This product is a limited release consisting of two barrels with exceptional flavor, we felt that it would be a shame to mix them with the next run of bourbon so we released it as a new product. It contains a deeper flavor and scent than the 4 year bourbon with a finish that’s just as pleasant and smooth.” 

The judges at the SFWSC clearly agreed, awarding the 4 Year Old a Double Gold medal. 

MannCave Distillery is located in West Virginia and was founded in 2018. The distillery not only produces whiskey, but also moonshine, vodka, gin, ambrosia, and rum. Despite being a relatively new distillery on the scene, MannCave has already won numerous awards for its spirits. One to watch? Absolutely. 

New Riff 6 Year Old Malted Rye Whiskey

Credit: New Riff Distilling

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Floral fruit, powdered sugar, oak, vanilla fruits, spices, saltwater taffy, fruits, clove, pink peppercorn
BUY NOW: $58.99 

New Riff Distilling’s 6 Year Old Malted Rye Whiskey was recently added as an extension to the distillery’s core lineup. 

The whiskey is distilled from a 100% malted rye mash bill, rarely seen in the American whiskey industry. New Riff places a lot of emphasis on the fact that the rye is malted, saying “It actually makes more sense to us to think of it as a malted whiskey first, and a rye whiskey second.” 

The 6 Year Old is bottled at 50% ABV (or 100 proof). 

There have been indications that we can expect some higher age statement releases from the Kentucky-based distillery in the future. In March 2024, New Riff released its highest age statement yet: an 8 Year Old

Old Elk Distillery Wheated Bourbon – 8 Year 

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Cream, toffee, vanilla, toasted almonds, clove
BUY NOW: $69.99 

Colorado-based Old Elk Distillery’s 8 Year Old Wheated Bourbon is distilled from a mash bill of 51% corn, 45% wheat, and 4% malted barley. This high-wheat expression was aged for 8 years before being bottled at 50% ABV. The resulting bourbon is smooth with a gentle mouthfeel. 

Old Elk Distillery is famed for its “Slow Cut™ Proofing Process”. The process involves very slowly adding water to the whiskey to proof the alcohol. Adding the water incrementally “keep[s] our liquid cool and save[s] the delicate flavors our team works so hard to produce during mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.” 

At the 2024 Icons of Whisky Awards, Old Elk’s Master Distiller, Greg Meze, was named Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year. 

Peg Leg Porker Spirits Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey 8 Year Old Grey Label 

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes given
BUY NOW: $58.99 

Peg Leg Porker Spirits was founded in 2013 by Carey Bringle. Bringle is something of an export in rich and smoky flavors, which gives Peg Leg Porker “distinctive flavor profile”. 

The Peg Leg Porker Spirits 8 Year Old Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey is distilled from a mash bill comprising 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. After aging, the whiskey is “finished through hickory charcoal after it is de-barreled.”

This charcoal filtering process has become something of a trademark of Tennessee whiskey, most famously used at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Peg Leg Porker Spirits has been awarded many accolades in the 11 years since its founding. This is certainly one to watch. 

Pinhook Vertical Series Bourbon 8 Year 

Credit: Pinhook

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Orange curacao, oloroso sherry, clove, brown sugar, dark cherry, plum, cinnamon, burnt sugar
BUY NOW: $80.99 

Pinhook has added to its Vertical Series with an 8 Year Old rye whiskey. The Vertical Series consists of annual bourbon and rye releases from Pinhook, with the whiskey increasing in age every year. 

Beginning with a 4 Year Old Bourbon in 2019, another bourbon and a 4 year old rye in 2020, 

2023 marked the 4th year of Vertical Series releases from Pinhook.

The 2023 8 Year Old Bourbon is a vatting of 120 of the distillery’s highest quality barrels. 

On the bottle is an image of racehorse Bourbon War, who raced and won at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Pimlico Race Course, and Saratoga. Each bottle of Pinhook whiskey features a thoroughbred racehorse. 

In early 2024, Pinhook unveiled the latest addition to the Vertical Series: an 8 Year Old Rye

Pure Antique 20 Year Straight Bourbon 

This is an old bottling of 20 Year Old Pure Antique from around 30 years ago. For illustrative purposes only. Credit: Bonhams

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes available
BUY NOW: N/A 

Pure Antique Bourbon is owned by Marci Palatella who, prior to the early 2000s, was an agent for Julian Van Winkle III in the Japanese markets. Palatella hails from a family of bourbon enthusiasts who sourced and bottled old-style bourbons. 

In recent years, the Palatella came across difficulties in sourcing the “magically intense barrels of yore” that the Pure Antique brand was known for. As such, she decided to build her own distillery in which to produce old-style bourbon. The Preservation Distillery is located in Bardstown, Kentucky, and is home to other brands such as Very Olde St. Nick and Rare Perfection.

A 20 Year Old Pure Antique expression impressed the judges at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, winning a Double Gold medal. 

Two Souls Spirits 6 Year Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Whiskey Featuring J. Henry & Sons

Credit: Two Souls Spirits

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Stewed dark cherries, brown sugar, creamy vanilla, chocolate pastry, warm tobacco
BUY NOW: N/A 

Two Souls Spirits is a spirits brand that sources and bottles high-quality spirits from craft distilleries across the USA. This particular whiskey hails from J. Henry & Sons in Wisconsin. The small craft distillery has been producing bourbon since 2008 in the style of Kentucky but with a Wisconsin twist. 

The Two Souls Spirits 6 Year Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Whiskey Featuring J. Henry & Sons was distilled from a four-grain mash bill comprising 60% red heirloom corn, 14% winter wheat, 14% rye, and 12% malted barley. 

It was distilled in 2017 and bottled from a single barrel in 2023, aging for a total of 6 years, 8 months, and 27 days in level #3 char American white oak. Only 171 bottles were produced at 60.57% ABV (cask strength). 

Elijah Craig 18 Year Old 

Credit: Elijah Craig

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Spiced vanilla, mint, chocolate, honey, toasted wood, pepper
BUY NOW: $159.99 

The Elijah Craig brand is an enduring one in the whiskey industry, with core expressions including a Small Batch, a Barrel Proof, a Rye, and a Toasted Barrel expression. This 18 Year Old is the only core range bottling with an age statement. 

The 18 Year Old is bottled at 90 proof after maturing for 18 years. 

Elijah Craig, named after the Baptist minister credited with pioneering aging whiskey in charred oak casks, was established by the Heaven Hill Distillery in 1986. Reverend Craig’s innovative methods are said to have significantly influenced the distinctive flavor of bourbon. Produced in Kentucky, Elijah Craig is renowned for its rich, full-bodied taste, derived from its deep char and extended aging process. 

Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year 

Credit: Heaven Hill Distillery

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, caramel, oak, herbs, smooth oak, sharp species, honey
BUY NOW: 

The Henry McKenna Single Barrel, crafted at the Heaven Hill Distillery, was named in honor of Henry McKenna, an Irish immigrant who settled in the USA in 1837. Adapting his family’s distilling methods to the unique grain types of Kentucky, which differed markedly from those in Ireland, McKenna crafted a distinctive whisky. 

This whisky, celebrated for its impeccable balance, has garnered multiple awards. Bottled at 100 proof, the Henry McKenna Single Barrel has become a cornerstone of the Heaven Hill Distillery’s offerings.

Recently, Heaven Hill Distillery earned the title of Distiller of the Year from Whisky Magazine for the second year running.

The Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year Old was also praised at the TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023, and the International Spirits Challenge 2023

W.L. Weller 12 Year Old Wheated Bourbon 

Credit: Buffalo Trace Distillery

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Lanolin, almond, creamed corn, toasty vanilla, oak
BUY NOW: $199.95 

This expression, named for a pioneer of wheated bourbons – William Larue Weller – is aged for 12 years, significantly longer than normal for a wheated bourbon. 

W.L. Weller prides itself on ease of drinking, with a silky smooth bourbon produced by the high percentage of wheat in the mash bill. The 12 Year Old is part of W.L. Weller’s core range, alongside other famous expressions such as the Antique 107 and Full Proof. 

The W.L. Weller brand is one of many produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery

Widow Jane 10 Year Old Bourbon 

Credit: Widow Jane

Medal: Double Gold
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cream, orange, maple, cherry, almond, charred oak, spice
BUY NOW: $49.99 

Widow Jane’s 10 Year Old expression is comprised of 5 barrel batches of the finest bourbons aged over 10 years. 

Widow Jane attributes the complex and multi-layered flavors of its bourbon to the rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity within its warehouse. Additionally, the barrels are repositioned within the rick house, subjecting the bourbon to diverse climatic conditions as it ages.

Situated in Brooklyn, New York, Widow Jane is renowned for its small-batch bourbons. Established in 2012, the distillery initially focused on chocolate production before branching into whiskey blending, sourcing casks from various US locations. In the coming years, Widow Jane aims to consolidate all of its whiskey production in-house.

More Results From San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2024 

So, there we have it! The best age-statement bourbon & American whiskey from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2024. 

Of course, there are hundreds of other winners to chat about. So, make sure you keep an eye on my Awards Series tag to catch the latest updates and deep dives. 

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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