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1792 Full Proof Bourbon Earns Jim Murray’s 2020 World Whisky Award

Love him or hate him, whiskey author Jim Murray as a reviewer holds a lot of clout in the world of whisk(e)y awards. His yearly Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible is something many whisk(e)y brands large and small the world over hope to get a mention in, including perhaps a coveted high score and/or award. It thus is always interesting to see what direction Murray goes in his yearly top dog picks across different whisk(e)y categories, including that most prized World Whisky of the Year spot.

For 2020, he has given that to the 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery, which is owned by Buffalo Trace parent company Sazerac. He scored it a 97.5 out of 100, according to Sazerac, saying of it that “you can only sit, eyes closed, in awe. This is a delivery of perfection: intense, seemingly no prisoners. Yet, actually, you find it has the grace to allow every character to make a speech of great erudition, ultimately a discourse of how so many facets can be singular yet together make for such glorious integration.

“On this evidence Buffalo Trace has a threat to its world supremacy – from a rival distillery…they own! This is a whiskey of stand out, almost stand-alone beauty. Finding fault is not easy with something this intense and magnificently rich.”

1792 Full Proof Jim Murray 2020
1792 Full Proof (image via Sazerac)

“For the 1792 Distillery to win ‘World Whisky of the Year’ is extraordinary because when I first went there some 25 years ago, the then-owners had no interest in high-end whiskey, said Murray in a prepared statement. “The oldest they produced was a 6-year-old, which I thought was one of the most complex on the market but still undercooked. I implored them then to bring out something much older.

“It is wonderful that my gut instinct of 25 years ago has been vindicated under the ownership of Sazerac, who have turned a potentially great distillery into something truly magnificent.”

Moving beyond the top winner, Murray was not done with Sazerac/Buffalo Trace, as he gave the second and third world whisky of the year awards to William Larue Weller 125.7 proof, the latest version of last year’s victor, and Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 127.2 proof.

“There will be eyebrows raised and claims of favoritism which, of course, is never the case with the Whiskey Bible: I call it exactly as I see it,” noted Murray. “Once I knew the top three were from the same company, I spent two extra days running through my top ten whiskies once more…and the results came out exactly the same!”

“To not only be named World Whiskey of the Year, but also to have our whiskeys be named the second and third finest whiskeys in the world is astonishing,” added Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer, Sazerac Company. “It is truly a testament of the skill and dedication of not only our two Master Distillers, but to all of our team members at Sazerac.

“We could not be happier and more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”

As for the rest of Murray’s top picks, you can see the whole list below for your consideration. Should you want to get a copy of his book, you can pre-order it here.

2020 World Whisky of the Year
1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Second Finest Whisky in the World
William Larue Weller 125.7 Proof

Third Finest Whisky in the World
Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 128.8 Proof

Single Cask of the Year
Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible Award Winners 2020

Scotch Whisky of the Year: Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask): The Macphail 1949 China Special Edition 1
Scotch Blend of the Year: Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
Scotch Grain of the Year: The Last Drop Dumbarton 1977
Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year: Glen Castle Blended Malt 1990
Single Malt Scotch No Age Statement: Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven
10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 10 Years
10 Years & Under (Single Cask): Annandale Man O’ Sword
11-15 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 15 Years Batch Strength
11-15 Years (Single Cask): Signatory Vintage Edradour Ballechin 12 Year Old
16-21 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
16-21 Years (Single Cask): Whisky Castle Glen Spey Aged 21 Years
22-27 Years (Multiple Casks): Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1996
22-27 Years (Single Cask): The Whisky Shop Glendronach Aged 26 Years
28-34 Years (Multiple Casks): Ben Nevis 32 Years Old 1966
28-34 Years (Single Cask): Gordon & MacPhail Inverleven 1985
35-40 Years (Multiple Casks): Port Ellen 39 Years Old
35-40 Years (Single Cask): Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1978 W18
41 Years & Over (Multiple Casks): Glen Scotia 45 Year Old
41 Years & Over (Single Cask): The Macphail 1949 China Special Edition 1

No Age Statement (Standard): Ballantine’s Finest
No Age Statement (Premium): Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare
5-12 Years: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Years Old
13-18 Years: Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
19 – 25 Years: Dewar’s Aged 25 Years The Signature
26 – 50 Years: The Last Drop 56 Year Old Blend

Irish Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength
Irish Pot Still Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength
Irish Single Malt of the Year: Bushmills Aged 21 Years
Irish Blend of the Year: Jameson
Irish Single Cask of the Year: Kinahan’s Special Release Project 11 Year Old

Bourbon of the Year: 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Rye of the Year: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 128.8 Proof
US Micro Whisky of the Year: Garrison Brothers Balmorhea
US Micro Whisky of the Year (Runner Up): 291 Barrel Proof Colorado Whiskey Aged 2 Years

No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels): 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
No Age Statement (Single Barrel): Colonel E H Taylor Single Barrel Bottled In Bond
9 Years & Under: Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel
10 – 12 Years: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Aged 12 Years
11 – 15 Years: Pappy Van Winkle 15 Years Old
16 – 20 Years: Michter’s 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
21 Years & Over: Pappy Van Winkle 23 Years Old

No Age Statement: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 128.8 Proof
Up to 10 Years: Knob Creek Cask Strength
11-15 Years: Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 Years Old
Over 15 Years: Sazerac 18 Years Old
Single Cask: Knob Creek Single Barrel Select

Canadian Whisky of the Year: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Japanese Whisky of the Year: Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt
Single Malt of the Year (MB): The Matsui Mizunara Cask

European Whisky of the Year (Multiple): Thy Whisky No. 9 Bøg Single Malt (Denmark)
European Whisky of the Year (Single): Penderyn Single Cask no. M75-32 (Wales)

Asian Whisky of the Year: Nantou Distillery Omar Bourbon Cask no.11140804 (Taiwan)
Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year: Bakery Hill Peated Malt Cask Strength (Australia)

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