The Best American Blended and Single Malt Whiskeys, According to The Oscars of Booze
Top whiskey honors from the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
The finalists for two major American whiskey categories were just released for the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Awards (SFWSA), the most prestigious of the annual drinks competitions.
The awards competition took place on April 13-15. Per Forbes, 70 judges from around the globe evaluated approximately 5,500 spirits over those three days. Finalists are being announced through the end of May, while the spirits category winners will be announced at the Top Shelf Awards Gala and Grand Tasting on June 16-17 at Resorts World in Las Vegas.
A quick explanation of the awards, which are part of the second-oldest spirits competition in the world and the largest one in the U.S.: Platinum, Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze are the medal designations; Double Gold is “awarded to the entries that receive a Gold medal rating by all members of the judging panel; these are among the finest products in the world” and the most sought-after designation — Platinum, a rare award — goes to spirits that achieve Double Gold rankings three years in a row. Best in Class is the best example of each spirit type, while Best in Show is chosen from the Best of Class winners; these awards highlight the best spirit in each of these five categories: Unaged White Spirit, Aged White Spirit, Whisky/Whiskey, Brandy and Liqueur.
While bourbon and rye results are coming later this month, the SFWSC did release the finalists for two American whiskey categories: American Single Malt and American Blended.
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For top American Blended Whiskey, there were two that received Double Gold: Colorado’s Breckenridge Distillery’s Two Clans Blended Whiskey (essentially, an ASM blended with a peated Scotch) and Ohio’s High Bank Distillery Co.’s Whiskey War Barrel Select — Double Double Pinot Noir (fun aside, the distillery also took home the most Double Golds for an American distillery at the 2023 SFWSC).
There were several finalists for the American Single Malt category:
- Pacific Coast Spirits American Single Malt
- Stranahan’s Blue Peak Single Malt Whiskey
- Triple Eight Distillery’s The Notch Nantucket Island Single Malt Whisky 8 Years Old
- Westland Distillery’s Solum Edition 1 Single Malt Whiskey (which is locally peated; review coming soon)
- Cedar Ridge Distillery’s The QuintEssential Batch 010
- Lost Lantern’s Gentle Giant Balcones Distilling Texas Single Malt — which we profiled a few weeks back
- ASW Distillery’s Red X Single Malt Whiskey
And that’s what’s great about American Single Malt: The burgeoning (and yet not quite official) spirits category finalists hail from California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont (by way of Texas) and Georgia. For those people who associate American whiskey with Kentucky or Tennessee, well, that’s certainly true by volume and sales; but with the increased interest in other domestic whiskey categories, the spirit is finally getting recognition by crafts spirits producers in the 48 states.
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