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The World’s Best American Whiskey According To The World Whiskies Awards

In 2024, the World Whiskies Awards came to Louisville, Kentucky, the home of bourbon, to hand out the awards for the best American whiskeys and bourbons. Since its inception in 2017, the awards have become one of the most important events on the calendar for whiskey producers hoping to clinch one of the many titles on offer. 

On February 8th, 2024, the American categories had their winners announced. The winners for each category of ‘World’s Best’ whiskeys hailed from a wide variety of distilleries and brands including 1792, Four Roses, and Breckenridge. There are even whiskeys from Colorado on this list, as well as classics from Kentucky. 

So, if you are looking for the best American whiskeys and bourbons in 2024, the list of winners is something of the ultimate guide. Let’s take a closer look at the taste winners of the ‘World’s Best’ title from each category. 

NOTE: The World Whiskies Awards have a complex categorical structure, involving sub-categories usually defined by age. This article will focus on the overall winners from each taste category of American whiskey. For a full list and definition of each taste category, please click here.

World’s Best American Style Whiskey 

WINNER: F.E.W American Straight Whiskey, 93 Proof (46.5% ABV), 750ml
Tasting Notes: Graham crackers, honey, rye spice, tart cherry, smoke, white pepper
Buy Now: $34.99 

F.E.W American Straight Whiskey is created from a blend of F.E.W’s award-winning bourbon and rye whiskeys that is balanced by malt whiskey, aged in a cherrywood smoked barrel. 

The spirit is produced in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago in Illinois. The suburb, ironically, acted as the seat of Prohibition in the 1920s, with the Temperance Movement setting up headquarters there. 

The F.E.W Spirits Company was established in 2011, as a “grain-to-glass” operation, distilling in the heart of a community that had long been a dry area. Founder, Paul Hletko, envisioned a whiskey that was equal in quality to that being produced in Kentucky. 

Fast-forward to 2024, and F.E.W American Straight Whiskey is officially the World’s Best American Style Whiskey. 

World’s Best Bourbon 

WINNER: 1792 12 Year Old, 96.6 Proof (48.30% ABV), 750ml
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, cocoa, delicate fruit, smoke
Buy Now: ~$129

12 years is a relatively long time in the world of aging bourbon, which has no minimum aging period (unless it is straight or Bottled-In-Bond). This 1792 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is, therefore, infinitely complex and layered thanks to its long maturation period. 

The whiskey is made using the distillery’s “high rye” recipe and matured in charred American white oak barrels. 

This whiskey is produced at the Barton 1792 Distillery which, rather confusingly, was established in 1879 in Bardstown, Kentucky. It is the oldest fully-operating distillery in the town. 

Despite the large distillery campus (with 29 warehouses and 22 other buildings), the distillery has somewhat flown under the radar amongst consumers. 

However, the distillery has previously been awarded many accolades for its quality spirit, including a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2021. 

World’s Best Finished Bourbon 

WINNER: Breckenridge Whiskey Port Cask Finish, 90 Proof (45% ABV), 750ml
Tasting Notes: Sultanas, raisins, maple syrup, spice
Buy Now: $45.99 

This Breckenridge whiskey was finished in a 59-gallon Tawny Port cask, imparting subtle yet complex flavors of dark fruits, maple syrup, and spices onto the spirit. 

As finishing whiskey in casks other than that in which they were originally matured becomes more popular, distilleries around the world are turning to experimental casks. Port casks, whilst not necessarily chosen for long-term maturation, can imbue a whiskey with rich and complex layers and create a lasting finish. 

Breckenridge is looking to the future with this release, and exploring all of the ways that previously used casks can enhance a bourbon. 

The distillery also holds the title of the “World’s Highest Distillery” having been founded in 2008, nestled amongst the mountains of Colorado.  

World’s Best Single Barrel Bourbon 

WINNER: Four Roses Single Barrel, 100 Proof (50% ABV), 750ml
Tasting Notes: Ripe plums, cherries, spice, pear, cocoa, vanilla, maple syrup
Buy Now: $34.94 

Perhaps one for the more seasoned bourbon drinker, this single barrel bourbon was bottled at 100 proof, with the ABV enhancing the complex flavor profile. 

Each whiskey that is used in the Four Roses Single Barrel range is handpicked by the Four Roses Master Distiller, Brent Elliott. 

Single Barrel Bourbon has risen in popularity over the decades since it was introduced by Blanton’s in 1984, with many whiskey distilleries providing such expressions. As such, it is no small feat that Four Roses was recently named the World’s Best Single Barrel Bourbon. 

The Four Roses name was trademarked by Paul Jones Jr. in the 1860s, when he established an office in Whiskey Row, Main Street, Kentucky. It is said that the name Four Roses was brought about by a marriage proposal from Paul Jones Jr. to his beloved. He sent her a proposal, and she told him that if her answer were “yes”, he would see her wearing a corsage of four red roses to an upcoming high-society ball. She wore the roses. And the rest is history. 

World’s Best Small Batch Bourbon 

WINNER: Law’s Whiskey House Four Grain Bourbon Cask Strength
Tasting Notes: Black tea, honeysuckle, baking spice, orange, clove, & dried fruit
Buy Now: $89.99

Law’s Whiskey House is transparent about the mash bill that goes into making its award-winning bourbon. 60% corn, 20% heirloom wheat, 10% heirloom rye, and 10% heirloom malted barley make up the four grains used in this small batch release. The whiskey was aged for over 3 years and bottled at cask strength. 

The distillery is located in Denver, Colorado, and uses open-air fermentation for the mash and a custom four-plate pot for distillation. Having been established in 2011, the distillery’s principles are “[c]raft over commodity, Quality over quantity. Whiskey above all”. 

Such philosophy seems to have rung true for the judges at the World Whiskies Awards 2024, where the Law’s Whisky House Four Grain Bourbon Cask Strength was titled World’s Best Small Batch Bourbon. 

World’s Best Tennessee Whiskey 

WINNER: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey
Tasting Notes: Spicy caramel, maple, fruit, raisins
Buy Now: $44.89 

This 100 Proof premium blended whiskey is the inaugural release from Uncle Nearest. Since its debut in 2017, it has won over 125 awards – a fact that is proudly stated on the distillery’s website.  

Uncle Nearest was established in 2017, honoring the first African American Master Distiller, whose given name was Nathan Green. Green was a former slave who had been emancipated following the American Civil War. 

In Tennessee, he began distilling for a Reverend Dan Call, who later told a young Jack Daniel (yes, that Jack Daniel) “Uncle Nearest is the best whiskey maker that I know of”, and enlisted Green to teach a young Daniel the art of distilling. 

Of course, Jack Daniel’s grew to be one of the largest and most popular whiskey brands in the world. Green, by contrast, has been largely forgotten. As such, Uncle Nearest pays tribute to him through the production of their award-winning whiskies.  

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