My Ever-Changing Whisk(e)y Favorites – The Best Whiskey of 2023
As someone deeply involved in the whiskey industry, I am frequently asked about my favorite whisk(e)y. It’s a difficult question to answer because my preference often depends on various factors such as the season, my location, and even my mood on any given day. Just like any whiskey enthusiast, I am constantly exploring new whiskies and my opinions are constantly evolving.
To emphasize the ever-changing nature of what constitutes the “best whiskey,” a small family-owned distillery in Kentucky has recently made big news. 15 Stars, a brand founded by a father and son team, has consistently impressed with their exceptional bourbons and ryes over the past few years. Their dedication and craftsmanship have earned them the prestigious title of “best whiskey” at the renowned New York World Spirits Competition for 2023.
As an influential figure in the spirits industry, I was excited to see this recognition, especially since I frequently recommend their whiskeys as personal favorites depending on the specific day and mood. The 15 Stars American rye triumphed over strong competition to secure the coveted title of “Best Whiskey” this year in New York. But what exactly does this mean? As one of the head judges, allow me to break it down for you.
To claim this honor, the whiskey underwent four double-blind tastings, enduring scrutiny from expert judges, leading bartenders, and industry insiders who shape the world of whiskey behind the scenes. I can personally attest that this rye whiskey from a small distillery in Kentucky surpassed an impressive array of well-known whiskies on the market, which is no small feat.
Now, let’s delve into the tasting experience of the best whiskey from the 2023 New York World Spirits Competition. Here are the details:
– ABV: 52.5%
– Average Price: $89
The newly released whiskey from 15 STARS is a blend of ryes aged between six, seven, and eight years in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. The name “First West” pays homage to these states, which were considered the “West” during the formative years of the United States in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Now, let’s talk about the tasting notes:
Nose: The aroma of deep winter spices such as clove, anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg intertwine with hints of Earl Grey tea, dried cranberry, dried cherry, and a touch of sour plum. Subtle notes of dry grassy fall leaves and orchard barks add complexity, with a whisper of roasting herbs.
Palate: The initial sip reveals notes of apricot jam atop buttermilk scones dusted with cinnamon, transitioning smoothly to the taste of dry oolong tea leaves, sweet smudging sage, creamed honey, and a touch of ginger tobacco. This beautiful medley is further enhanced by a delicate dark chocolate sauce infused with cardamom and clove.
Finish: A sharp bite of gingery tobacco anchors the finish, accompanied by a lingering bitterness of dark chocolate. The journey concludes with a rich blend of cherrywood and sour plum sauce, faint echoes of the opening winter spices, dry fall leaves, and hints of old cellar floors.
In summary, this whiskey is a well-rounded and enjoyable sipping experience, boasting excellent depth of flavors. For those seeking a heightened experience, try adding a dash of ice or a drop of water to enhance the earthy notes, revealing creamy eggnog spice and hints of mulled cider and wines with a soft fruit cake undertone.
For those interested in acquiring a bottle, it is currently available on Seelbachs.com. However, I must warn you that it won’t last long. You likely have just a few hours to snatch a bottle before they are sold out. If you miss out, keep an eye out for the next batch release.
Remember, the best whisk(e)y is a constantly evolving concept, so continue exploring and discovering new favorites to truly appreciate the diverse world of this remarkable spirit.