Best Whiskies in the World from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2023

Top marks went to 23 different whisk(e)y expressions from around the globe

USC's Troy Clarke in front of several of judged samples at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2023
USC organizer Troy Clarke with some of the in-competition whisk(e)y bottles
Daniel Silbert

Dewar’s, Teeling, Highland Park, Henry McKenna, George Dickel and Crown Royal were some of the 23 best whiskies in the world honored at this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge, which announced its 2023 results across multiple spirits categories this week.

All products for the USC are rated and blind-evaluated on a 100-point scale by a series of expert judges, including buyers, journalists, educators, authors and bar owners. USC 2023 saw its 14th consecutive year of record submissions, with entries from more than 50 different countries. The judging was conducted from late May through early June; the top results included 68 Chairman’s Trophy winners, 300 Finalists and 514 Great Values.

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“Aside from being the largest USC ever, this year’s Challenge was likewise the most global, with an impressive array of quality distillates from places as far away from New York as China, Australia, India, Kazakhstan and Chile,” says Says USC Co-Founder and Judging Director F. Paul Pacult. “Virtually all categories saw healthy gains, most notably gin, Ready-to-Drink cocktails, mezcal, rum, tequila, vodka, and all whiskey and brandy categories.”

You can find the full results of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge here.

Best Whiskies in the World

Specifically when it comes to whiskey, there weren’t a lot of surprises, though a few bottles might be hard to find (see The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask No. 78.58 Baking Easter Treats 9 Years Old). A couple that caught our eye: The best Single Barrel for American whiskey went to Bower Hill Bourbon, a high-rye bourbon from a brand that commemorates the first battle of the Whiskey Rebellion; the best Wheat Whiskey (USA) was awarded to Bainbridge Battle Point Two Islands Hokkaido Mizunara Cask, a Washington distillery ages some of its releases exclusively in virgin Mizunara oak casks; and Hayashi, a 24-year-old Japanese whisky crafted from indica rice and aged in ex-bourbon casks in the Ryukyu islands.

The full list of whisk(e)y winners, as provided by Ultimate Spirits Challenge:


  • Bottled-In-Bond: Henry McKenna 10 Years Old Single Barrel
  • Blended: Old Elk Wheat N’ Rye
  • Bourbon: W.L. Weller Full Proof
  • Flavored: Ole Smoky Apple Pie Tennessee Moonshine
  • Rye: Tumblin’ Dice Rye Small Batch, Barrel Proof 7 Years Old
  • Single Barrel: Bower Hill Bourbon
  • Single Malt: Courage & Conviction Sherry Cask
  • Tennessee: George Dickel Reserve Cask Strength 17 Years Old
  • Wheat: Bainbridge Battle Point Two Islands Hokkaido Mizunara Cask
  • Other: Barrell Private Release Whiskey Finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel


  • M&H APEX Dead Sea Single Malt


  • Blended: Dewar’s 18 Years Old
  • Blended Malt: Johnnie Walker Green Label
  • Independent Merchant: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask No. 78.58 Baking easter treats 9 Years Old
  • Single Malt-Highland: Aberfeldy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish 15 Years Old
  • Single Malt-Island: Highland Park 21 Years Old
  • Single Malt-Islay: Bowmore 18 Years Old
  • Single Malt-Speyside: Mortlach 16 Years Old


  • Crown Royal Extra Rare 29 Years Old


  • Blended: Midleton Very Rare Vintage Release 2023
  • Single Malt: Teeling Blackpitts Peated
  • Single Pot Still: Red Spot 15 Years Old


  • Hayashi 24 Years Old Ryukyu


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