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The Best American Whiskey According To The TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023

Launched in 2022, The TAG Global Spirits Awards recognize the best distilled spirits in the world. From bourbon to scotch, and tequila, industry experts meticulously taste and score hundreds of spirits, awarding “Best In Show” to a select few in each category. 

Previously, I broke down The Best Bourbons According To The TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023. So, today, I thought we could take a look at the best American whiskeys. 

Many blends, ryes, and Bottled-In-Bond American whiskeys were entered into the competition last year. Only seven were named “Best In Show”. 

So, let’s take a look at the best American whiskeys from the TAG Global Spirits Awards including their composition, the distilleries, and where you can buy these award-winning whiskeys. 

Looking for more award-winning bourbons and whiskeys? Check out the rest of my Awards Series here

Bespoken Spirits “The Epic” Straight Rye Whiskey 

Bespoken Spirits Rye Whiskey "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023
Credit: Bespoken Spirits

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Straight Rye
Tasting Notes: Molasses, toasted cloves, caramelized plantain, vanilla, dark chocolate, caramel, citrus
BUY NOW: $41.99

Bespoken Spirits Straight Rye Whiskey was distilled from a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted whiskey. The whiskey was then aged in virgin American white oak barrels before being finished in twice-toasted oak staves. The rye expression has won multiple awards, including Double Platinum at the Ascot Awards in 2022. 

The clue is in the name. Bespoken Spirits is dedicated to cultivating bespoke flavors in their spirits through the use of “Tailored Wood Finishing”. This experimental finishing program allows the whiskey makers at Bespoken Spirits to have creative control of the spirits. 

In addition to this, Bespoken Spirits is noted for its sustainable practices using “less wood, energy, and water”. 

According to the Bespoken Spirits website, the brand has an “emphasis on taste, product, and value” creating “a better whiskey for you and the planet.” 

Smoke Wagon Whiskey Malted Rye 

Smoke Wagon Malted Rye "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards
Smoke Wagon is named for an old west revolver.

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Straight Rye
Tasting Notes: Cinnamon spice, black pepper, smoke, caramel, creaminess
BUY NOW: $59.99

Smoke Wagon is a bourbon and rye brand produced by Nevada H&C Distilling Co. The malted rye whiskey was distilled from a mash bill of 51% rye and 49% malted barley. 

Described as a ‘high-malt rye’, the whiskey is far from a traditional rye, but is instead “unapologetically intense”. The rye whiskey is also bottled at cask strength for an extra kick. 

The name ‘Smoke Wagon’, according to the Nevada H&C Distilling Co. website “is actually old west slang for the 1873 Colt single action army revolver or ‘the gun that won the west’.” 

Founded in 2004 by two friends called Jonathan and Aaron, Nevada H&C Distilling Co. also produces Silver Dollar American Vodka

Woody Creek Distillers 100% Rye 

Woody Creek 100% Rye "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023
This whiskey is distilled from a 100% rye mash bill. Credit: Woody Creek

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Rye
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes available
BUY NOW: N/A 

Woody Creek Distillers, located in Basalt, CO, strives to “pour everything we are into everything we make”. 

The rye for the brand’s 100% rye whiskey is locally sourced, and stilled in Woody Creek’s custom “CARL stills” from Germany. These copper stills allow the distillery to produce high-proof spirits in just one distillation. The rye whiskey is then aged for a minimum of four years in #3 char virgin American white oak casks before being bottled at 90 proof. 

Whilst there are no official tasting notes on the Woody Creek website, the brand calls the spirit a “straight rye whiskey of uncommon complexity and “damn that’s smooth” taste.” 

Woody Creek does not only make rye whiskey, but also bourbon, vodka, and gin. In addition to this, the brand has an ongoing partnership with actor William H. Macy (Fargo, Jurassic Park III, Shameless). The William H. Macy Reserve is a straight rye whiskey, Bottled-In-Bond. 

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye 

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Rye "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023
Russell’s Reserve is a father-and-son enterprise.

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Rye Single Barrel
Tasting Notes: Lemon, vanilla, spicy oak, orange peel, ginger, pepper, tobacco, pear drops
BUY NOW: $44.95

Russell’s Reserve aims to fill a gap that was identified in the American whiskey market, for affordable single barrel rye. 

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye is an affordable (and award-winning) spirit. Each barrel is hand-selected and bottled at 104 proof from level #4 char barrels. 

The bourbon and whiskey brand was founded by father-and-son duo, Jimmy and Eddie Russell, both of whom worked for Wild Turkey. In fact, Wild Turkey bottled a bourbon named “Russell’s Reserve” in tribute to Jimmy’s 45 years in the industry in 1998. 

Today, Jimmy and Eddie are the guardians of quality at Russell’s Reserve. Both men’s signatures adorn each bottle of Russell’s Reserve Whiskey. 

Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition Batch 012

Uncle Nearest Master Blend "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023.
Uncle Nearest’s Master Blend Batch 12 was honored at the TAG Global Spirits Awards. Credit: Uncle Nearest

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: Tennessee Whiskey Small Batch
Tasting Notes: No official tasting notes available
BUY NOW: N/A – Available exclusively at the Nearest Green Distillery

The Uncle Nearest brand is produced at the Nearest Green Distillery and is named after the man who taught Jack Daniel (yes, that Jack Daniel) how to distill: Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green. Green was the world’s first African American master distiller. 

The Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition is a blend of annual barrel picks by the distillery’s master blender, Victoria Eady Butler, a fifth-generation descendent of Nearest Green. 

Batch number 12 was hailed at the TAG Global Spirits Awards in 2023. Available exclusively at the Nearest Green Distillery, the Master Blend Editions are notoriously difficult to get a hold of. 

This is not the first time that Uncle Nearest whiskey has been lauded at whiskey competitions. The Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Rye Whiskey was named Best Rye Whiskey at the International Whisky Competition in 2023. And, the Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey was named World’s Best Tennessee Whiskey according to the 2024 World Whiskies Awards

Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey 

Jack Daniel's Bonded Tennessee Whiskey "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023
Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey. Credit: Jack Daniel’s

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: Tennessee Bottle-In-Bond
Tasting Notes: Caramel, rich oak, spice, dark brown sugar, cooked fruit, seared oak, warm baking spice, smoke
BUY NOW: $18.88

Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 is, without doubt, an iconic expression. But the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg has been expanding its core range in recent years. One of the most exciting additions was the Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey. 

The JD Bonded expression is distilled from the same mash bill as Old No.7: 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye. The whiskey is then aged for a minimum of four years. 

Jack Daniel’s Distillery is also well-known for its charcoal mellowing, also known as the Lincoln County Process, which contributes to the incredibly smooth mouthfeel of JD whiskey. 

The whiskey is bottled from casks selected for the dark mahogany color they impose on the whiskey, as well as the strong oak flavors. Bottled at 100 proof, as if required by law for Bottled-In-Bond whiskey, the JD Bonded has a warm, lingering finish and rich oak flavors. 

Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey 

Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch "Best In Show" TAG Global Spirits Awards
Credit: Uncle Nearest

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: Tennessee Whiskey Small Batch
Tasting Notes: Honey, warm brown sugar, cedar, orange peel, tobacco, ginger, white pepper, caramel, tannins, baking chocolate, cougar leaf, nougat, cinnamon, maple syrup
BUY NOW: $32.99  

We return again to the Nearest Green Distillery, this time to look at the 1884 Small Batch Whiskey. 

This mash bill for this particular expression is officially undisclosed. However, there is some speculation that it contains at least 51% corn, as well as rye and wheat. The whiskey is aged for at least four years and bottled at 93 proof. 

As opposed to the Master Blend, this expression is available at retail (please see above). 

The TAG Global Spirits Awards 2024 

The TAG Global Spirits Awards 2024 have taken place, and we are waiting on the results. Watch this space for updates.

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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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