The panel behind the World Whiskies Awards — made up of 17 whiskey reviewers, bartenders, spirit industry professionals and former distillers — judges everyone’s favorite brown liquor in every category to determine what is best, regardless of price or prestige. For those who partake, this is one of the biggest events in the whiskey world. Here are a handful of winners.
Best Bourbon Whiskey: 1792 Full Proof
1792 is owned by the same company that runs Buffalo Trace, and it just took home its second first place in this category (back-to-back, mind you). Just above entry-level pricing, the Full Proof ($45+) is a full 125 proof straight bourbon that, as of now, has a stranglehold on the title of best of the best, and it’s no more expensive than a bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant.
Best Single Malt Whiskey: Hakushu 25-Year
From widely available to almost completely unavailable, the Hakushu 25-year single malt Scotch is not for the faint of heart (or wallet). The famous Japanese whisky was given a 93/100 from patron whiskey saint Jim Murray, who wrote that it’s “a malt which is impossible not to be blown away by.” Trying it for yourself is going to run you a not-so-cool $3,599.
Best Blended Whiskey: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
One of the most well-known and well-respected names is whiskey is no stranger to award season, and Johnnie Walker’s Gold Label Reserve was quite literally meant to be had during celebration. The super creamy expression is indulgent, but won’t absolutely destroy your wallet — it’ll run you around $70.
Best Blended Malt Whiskey: Nikka Taketsuru 17-Year
“If there was a God and he drunk whiskey, this would be in his cabinet” reads one review of Nikkawhisky’s Taketsuru 17-year. “This is a ravishing powerhouse of a whisky that is well-crafted, impactful, and yet smooth and elegant,” reads another. The bottle was named after the distillery’s founder, and can be had for $239.
Best Rye Whiskey: Distillery 291 Colorado Rye
Distillery 291’s rye is about as Colorado as Colorado gets. Distilled in charred white oak barrels at high altitudes in Colorado Springs, it’s finished with toasted Aspen Staves. Though difficult to find outside of its home state, a bottle should run anywhere from $70 to $80.
Best Flavored Whiskey: Heritage Distilling Brown Sugar Bourbon
Easily the most openly disrespected but quietly consumed whiskey out there, flavored whiskeys don’t deserve the snark pointed their way. Heritage Distilling Company’s Brown Sugar Bourbon may not be something to drink neat, but I’d bet good money it’d be pitch perfect in a Hot Toddy (Heritage says it’s even good with Dr. Pepper). The best part? At $30, you can have as much as you (responsibly) want.
Best Wheat Whiskey: Bainbridge Battle Point Organic Wheat Whiskey
This wheat made with completely organic ingredients has taken home this very award twice already, and now in back-to-back years. Jim Murray wrote that the Battle Point is “soft and satisfying, the spices demanded from wheat whiskey hit all the right spots. Very well made and impressive.” A bit trickier to find, a bottle should run you anywhere from $49 to $65. What more need be said?