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The Best Bourbons According To The TAG Global Spirits Awards 2023

The TAG Global Spirits Awards is a relatively new event in the spirits industry, having been launched in 2022. It was established by a trio of industry heavyweights: world-famous mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, U.S. industry veteran David Grapshi, and Julio Bermejo, American Ambassador of Mexico’s National Chamber for the Tequila Industry. 

The awards were conceived to celebrate both established and emerging spirits brands worldwide, with the aim of setting new industry standards.

The awards undoubtedly have a huge bearing on the success of various brands, with the expert judges using their years of expertise in the spirits industry to make their decisions. 

As such, when the awards are announced at the end of each year, the spirits that win best in show are widely celebrated. 

Hundreds of bourbons were entered into the TAG Global Spirits Awards in 2023. But, only 10 were awarded the coveted label of ‘Best In Show’. Best In Show spirits are described as “the top performers in their class. These winning spirits distinguish themselves as being of the highest quality, with standout characteristics that make them unforgettable”. 

Here are the 10 bourbons that stood out at the TAG Global Spirits Awards in 2023. 

Looking for more award-winning whiskeys? Check out our article on the world’s best American whiskeys, according to the World Whiskies Awards.

Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen Bourbon 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Blended Straight Bourbon
Tasting Notes: Vanilla bean, Earl Grey tea, caramel, sweet tobacco, pecan pie, whole grain toast, grapefruit peel, nutmeg
BUY NOW: $94.96 

As the name would suggest, Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen Bourbon is matured for at least 13 years in Widow Jane’s Brooklyn warehouse. 

According to Widow Jane, the temperatures and humidity levels in the warehouse fluctuate rapidly, leading to complex and multi-layered flavors in the bourbon. The barrels also change positions in the rick house, further exposing the bourbon to a varying climate as it matures. 

Widow Jane is located in Brooklyn, New York, and is famed for its small-batch bourbons such as this one. Founded in 2012, the distillery started as a chocolate operation before expanding into whiskey blending, sourcing casks from across the US. Within the next few years, Widow Jane plans to bring all whiskey production in-house. 

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery Nelson Brother’s Classic Bourbon 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Blended Straight Bourbon
Tasting Notes: Banana bread, cocoa, cherry, dried pineapple, black peppercorn, spearmint, lemon, sweet tobacco, spice cake, milk chocolate, vanilla, baked apple
BUY NOW: $29.99 

This blended straight bourbon is the inaugural release from Nelson Brothers, Andy and Charlie. Created by blending high-rye straight bourbon in charred American oak, the whiskey is perfect for drinking neat or adding to a cocktail. 

Andy and Charlie Nelson revived Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery following a trip to Tennessee in 2006. Their family, specifically their great-great-great grandfather, had previously run a distillery in the area. As such, the brothers decided to revive the distillery and continue their family’s legacy. 

Since reopening the distillery, the brothers have created products including bourbon, whiskey, rye whiskey, and liqueurs. 

Brother’s Bond Original Cask Strength Bourbon 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Straight Bourbon – Original Cask Strength
Tasting Notes: Ripe banana, caramel, vanilla, walnuts, dried fruits, warmed rye bread, honey, leather, subtle smoke
BUY NOW: $68.95

The Original Cask Strength Bourbon from Brother’s Bond is a four-grain, high-rye, made from a mash bill of corn, rye, wheat, and barley. It is aged for a minimum of four years and has won numerous other accolades including Double Gold at the New York World Spirits Competition 2023. 

Brother’s Bond was founded by American actors Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, known for their roles in the TV series “The Vampire Diaries” as the Salvatore Brothers. 

The brand began as a passion project, inspired by the time they spent unwinding with fine bourbon after long days on set. Wesley and Somerhalder’s characters were also big bourbon fans. Their shared love for quality bourbon led them to create their own brand. 

Their friendship and shared experiences played a crucial role in shaping the brand. It’s not just a business venture, but a testament to their bond, hence the name. 

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Cask Strength 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Bourbon Cask Strength
Tasting Notes: Toffee, cherry, soft leather, cherry cola, honey, butterscotch, pecans.
BUY NOW: $66.99

This Redwood Empire whiskey was bottled at cask strength after being matured for a minimum of four years in Northern California. Redwood Empire is famously open about its mash bills. This particular expression was made from a mash bill comprising 74% corn, 20% raw rye, 4.5% malted barley, and 1.5% wheat. 

Redwood Empire Whiskey was founded in Sonoma County, California, in 2016. The brand is named for the rugged landscape and vast forests located in Northern California. Each whiskey is named after a famous tree. 

Pipe Dream is the 14th tallest tree in the world, standing at 367ft tall in Humboldt State Park. 

Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Bottled-in-Bond 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Bourbon Bottle-in-Bond
Tasting Notes: Baked peach, cocoa, lemon, stone fruit, toffee
BUY NOW: $39.99  

This Bottled-in-Bond bourbon was aged for at least six years in Bardstown, Kentucky. As the bourbon was matured for longer than four years and bottled at 100 proof, it can legally be considered ‘Bottled-in-Bond’. (We must also assume that the bourbon was distilled in one single season). 

The Bardstown Bourbon Company is a modern enterprise in the heart of Kentucky that is known for producing experimental mash bills as its modern distillery, whilst honoring the tradition of American whiskey-making. 

In addition to the distillery, the company also has an immersive experience located on Whiskey Row in Louisville. 

Henry McKenna Single Barrel 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Bourbon Single Barrel
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, caramel, oak, herbs, smooth oak, spices, honey, sweetness
BUY NOW: $54.86 

Produced at the Heaven Hill Distillery, the Henry McKenna Single Barrel was named after an Irish immigrant who moved to the USA in 1837. McKenna studied the grain types in Kentucky, very different from those in Ireland, and adapted his family’s recipe to suit these new grains. 

Winning multiple awards for its perfect balance, the Henry McKenna Single Barrel is bottled at 100 proof and is a staple of the Heaven Hill Distillery brand.

Heaven Hill Distillery was recently named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine for the second consecutive year. 

Old Hillside Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Bourbon Single Barrel
Tasting Notes: Smokiness, char, woodsy, caramel, vanilla, citrus, fig
BUY NOW: $55.54

Old Hillside calls this Kentucky straight bourbon “an easy sipper”, with a finish that is like a “Kentucky hug”. The whiskey has won multiple awards and is billed as the perfect bourbon for aficionados and bourbon beginners. 

Old Hillside Bourbon Company was founded by Jesse Carpenter and Brian Burton, childhood friends hailing from Durham, North Carolina. The brand name pays tribute to their alma mater, Durham’s Hillside High School. Their bourbon is distilled in Sparta, Kentucky. 

The founders aim to honor history with their products, particularly the legacy of legendary Black jockeys and Hillside High School.

Puncher’s Chance The Undisputed 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Bourbon Single Barrel
Tasting Notes: Warming vanilla, oak, nuttiness
BUY NOW: $44.99

Puncher’s Chance is so named because of boxing, and the idea that “anyone can deliver a knockout punch, no matter what the odds are, particularly if that punch is delivered with perfect balance”. 

The Single Barrel Selection, of which The Undisputed is part, is comprised of carefully selected bourbon expressions. The Undisputed is bottled at 108 proof, and packs a powerful but perfectly-balanced punch. 

Puncher’s Chance Bourbon is a product of Wolf Spirit Distillery, launched in September 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Garrison Brothers Guadalupe Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In A Port Cask 

TAG Global Spirits Awards Classification: American Cask Finished
Tasting Notes: Caramel, raspberry, cinnamon, chocolate
BUY NOW: $128.99 

This Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey was aged for four years in American charred white oak barrels before being finished for an additional twoo years in port casks. The result is “the perfect marriage of bourbon and port” according to Garrison Brothers. 

The Guadalupe is a limited release, meaning that if you are intrigued by the finish, you should snap up a bottle now. 

Garrison Brothers Distillery is the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas, having been established by Dan Garrison in 2006. The distillery uses a sweet mash bill, the flavours of which are enhanced by the intense Texan heat. 

Elijah Craig Small Batch 

TAG Classification: American Straight Bourbon Small Batch
Tasting Notes: Sweetness, honey, marzipan, wildflowers, drying oak
BUY NOW: $29.95 

Elijah Craig’s signature Small Batch expression is well-beloved and multi-award-winning. The barrels in which the bourbon is matured are Level 3 charred, giving the whiskey a distinctive yet subtle smoky element. 

Elijah Craig Bourbon is a product of Heaven Hill Distilleries. The brand is named after Reverend Elijah Craig, sometimes credited – though contentiously – as the inventor of bourbon whiskey. In 1789, Craig was reportedly the first distiller to age his whiskey in charred oak barrels (which is now required by law). 

This claim, however, is disputed by historians. Elijah Craig Bourbon gained prominence during the “Bourbon Renaissance” in the 1980s. Today, the brand offers several expressions, including the Small Batch, Barrel Proof, and, of course, the Single Barrel.

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