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Blended Whiskey

2022 New York World Spirits Competition

The New York World Spirits Competition (NYWSC) is part of the family of wine and spirit competitions sponsored by the Tasting Alliance. It includes the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the New York World Wine Competition, and the Singapore World Spirits Competition. The NYWSC is an annual spirit judging held in New York in late summer.

The Tasting Alliance has just announced the results of the 2022 judging. A total of 14 whiskeys won Best of Class Awards. The winners were an eclectic mix that ranged from well-known industry stalwarts to a surprising number of craft distillers, several from outside the US.

The top prize for The Best in Show Whiskey went to Don Michael, Black Whiskey Single Barrel. It also won the Best of Class award for Best Other Whiskey. Don Michael is a Peruvian whiskey based on a mash bill of black corn.

Don Michael Black Whiskey is based in Lurin, Peru, about an hour south of Lima. The black corn it uses in its mash bill is a Peruvian heirloom variety sometimes referred to as Black Aztec corn. An ancient variety, it’s grown primarily in the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia and dates to at least 1200 BC.

The judging panel described the whiskey as having:

Waxy and leather notes, accompanied by tropical fruit on the nose. Spicy and sweet on the palate, with tropical fruit notes. Slightly herbal, with spicy cinnamon and a touch of clove on a long, smooth finish.

Among the runners-up were two expressions from High Bank Distillery Company: Whiskey War, 4 YO, 44% ABV, and Whiskey War, Barrel Proof, 4 YO, 57.4% ABV, Archie Rose Distilling Co., Goode Whiskey, NAS 46% ABV from Australia and Hooten Young, 15 YO Barrel Proof American Whiskey, 62.5% ABV.

Four bourbons won Best of Class in their respective divisions. The Best Single Barrel Bourbon Up to 10 Years, which also won Best Overall Bourbon, was Southern Star, Paragon Cask Strength, Single Barrel Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 58% ABV.

Southern Star is a 4-YO wheated bourbon produced in North Carolina. The official tasting notes described it as having:

Caramel on the nose, along with a bit of vanilla and some fruitiness. Smooth and sweet, very drying, with tropical fruit notes on the palate. Long finish, with a pronounced and lingering pepperiness.

Runner-ups included Red Line, Cask Strength, Single Barrel Straight Bourbon, 8 YO, 58% ABV, and Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel, 65.9% ABV. Other standouts included such well-known favorites as Elmer T Lee, Single Barrel Bourbon NAS, 45% ABV, W.L Wheeler, Single Barrel Wheated Bourbon, NAS, 48.5% ABV and E. H. Taylor, Single Barrel Bourbon, NAS, 50% ABV.

The Best of Class Small Batch Bourbon Up to 10 Years was George Dickel, Bourbon, NAS, 45% ABV. At an average retail price of $30, the bourbon represents an exceptional value that no bourbon lover should be without.

The judging panel described it as:

Caramel and vanilla notes on the nose, along with a bit of fruitiness. Sweet caramel on the palate, accompanied by a hint of cinnamon, pepper and tropical fruit notes. Smooth, long, lingering finish of caramel and tropical fruit notes.

Other runners-ups included Fox & Odeon, Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch 5, 9 YO, 49.5% ABV, The Frank August, Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 4.5 YO, 50% ABV and Uncle Nearest, Master Blend Edition – Batch 012, 5 YO, 60.8% ABV. The latter, rumor has it, draws heavily on George Dickel’s stock in producing its whiskeys.

The Best of Class Straight Bourbon was Joseph Magnus, Murray Hill Club Bourbon Whiskey, A Blend, 6 YO, 51.5% ABV. Magnus is a Michigan-based whiskey producer. The runner-up was 15 Stars, First West Bourbon Batch 1, 7 YO, 53% ABV. First West Batch 1 is a blend of 15, 9, and 6 YO whiskies sourced from distillers in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee, then blended and bottled in Kentucky.

The official tasting note described the Joseph Magnus bourbon as:

Stone and tropical fruit, a bit of leather, and some caramel on the nose. Sweet, slightly drying on the palate, with pronounced stone fruit, peach, and apricot notes on the palate. Peppery, with a long, sweet finish and lingering apricot and caramel notes.

The Best of Class, Barrel-Finished Bourbon, is Trail’s End, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Apple Brandy barrels, 8 YO, 52.5% ABV. The official tasting notes described the whiskey as showing:

Oxidized apple, caramel, and vanilla notes on the nose, along with some slightly waxy and leather aromas. Very smooth, with stone fruit notes on the palate. Slightly peppery, with a very long finish and lingering apple and caramel notes.

The Best of Class Wheat Whiskey was Flight Whiskey, Flight 8 Whiskey, 58.6% ABV. Flight is a Tennessee-based whiskey bottler specializing in single barrel releases that it sources all over the US. The Flight 8 Whiskey is a 5-YO whiskey with a mash bill of 95% wheat and 5% malted barley. It was bottled exclusively for Vintage Wines and Spirits of Hermitage, Tennessee. Only 215 bottles were produced. It is impossible to find outside of Tennessee.

The Judging panel described the whiskey as having:

Distinctive vanilla and caramel notes on the nose. Fruity, sweet, creamy, and peppery on the palate, with pronounced vanilla notes. Long, sweet, tropical fruit finish.

The Best of Class Rye Whiskey was from Stauning Whiskey, Stauning El Clasico, 4 YO, 45.7% ABV. Stauning is a Danish whiskey producer that has been a consistent medalist in international spirit competitions.

The judging panel described the whiskey as:

Stone and tropical fruits on the nose, along with caramel, cinnamon, and clove spice. Sweet and smooth, with stone fruits, cinnamon, and a bit of clove on the palate. Peppery, with a long sweet finish and lingering apricot and cinnamon notes.

Equally impressive was the runner-up, Sometimes Y, Creek Water, Sometimes Y, 18 YO, 48.95% ABV, from North Carolina. At an average retail price of around $50, this is an exceptional price for an 18-YO rye whiskey.

The Best of Class American Single Malt Whisky was Courage and Conviction, Cuvee Cask Whiskey, 4 YO, 56% ABV. Cuvee casks are wine casks that are shaved, re-toasted, and then re-charred before being used to mature whiskey. The concept was developed by the late Jim Swan, one of Scotland’s preeminent whisky blenders.

The official tasting notes described the whiskey as:

Caramel and vanilla on the nose. Very smooth and fruity on the palate, with tropical fruits and anise. Long, sweet finish, slightly peppery, with lingering fruit notes.

The Best of Class, Other Single Malt Whiskey was Spirit Thief Distilling Co., Future Black Single Malt Whiskey, NAS, 60% ABV. This Tasmanian whiskey is yet another example of the rise of Australian whiskey to world-class rank.

The judging panel described the whiskey as having:

Caramel and vanilla on the nose. Drying, fruity, and sweet on the palate. Peppery, with a long, sweet, fruity finish.

Runner-ups included Starward, Nova Single Malt Australian Whiskey, NAS, 41% ABV, and Seven Seals, Port Wood Finish, NAS, 46.7% ABV. The latter is a Swiss single malt whiskey.

The Best of Class Best Blended Irish Whiskey was Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch Irish Whiskey, NAS, 46% ABV. The whiskey is matured in rum casks. The judging panel described it as:

Distinctive caramel and fruit notes on the nose. Smooth, fruity, with lingering caramel and fruit notes and a bit of pepperiness on the palate. Long, fruity finish.

The Best of Class Blended Scotch was The Sassenach, Blended Scotch, NAS, 46% ABV. The Great Glen Company produces the whisky. Sam Heughan founded Great Glen. He’s better known for portraying Jamie in the TV series Outlander.

The Sassenach is a blend of grain whisky and single malts from the Scottish Highlands. The specific distilleries used are not disclosed, but the whiskies’ light, fruity and tropical character suggest a sizeable contribution from Speyside distilleries.

The official tasting note described the whisky as:

Caramel, with vanilla and a hint of leather on the nose. Smooth, with stone and tropical fruit notes on the palate. Long, sweet, tropical fruit finish.

The Best of Class Distillers’ Single Malt Scotch was Glen Scotia, Victoriana Single Malt Scotch, NAS, 51.5%. Glen Scotia is a small, relatively obscure distillery in Campbeltown. Over the last several years, its whiskies have emerged as consistent medalists in international whisky competitions.

The Victoriana is a whisky that was created to mimic the style of Scotch whisky during the reign of Queen Victoria, hence the name. The judging panel described the whisky as showing:

Dried fruit notes, caramel, and vanilla on the nose. Smooth and sweet on the palate, with pronounced tropical fruit notes. Long, sweet, dried fruit finish, with a light but lingering pepperiness.

The runners-up included Loch Lomond, Original Single malt Scotch, NAS, 40% ABV, and two expressions from Old Pulteney: 15 YO Single Malt Scotch, 46% ABV, and 18 YO Single Malt Scotch, 46% ABV. Old Pulteney is the northernmost distillery on the Scotch mainland. It’s not well known in the US. That’s a pity because it is an outstanding whisky and well worth exploring.

The Best of Class Flavored Whiskey was Dough Ball Whiskey, Cookie Dough Whiskey, NAS, 35% ABV. Not surprisingly, the judging panel described it as showing:

Cookie dough and milk chocolate on the nose. Pronounced chocolate on the palate, with a smooth, candied sweetness. Long, sweet finish, with a lingering chocolate note.

The 2022 NYWSC judging showcased an exciting array of whiskeys. Some medalists are historic, well-known brands and are perennial winners in spirit competitions. Others are less recognized and certainly worth discovering if you are unfamiliar with them.

Would you have reached on the shelf for a Peruvian whiskey, a Danish Rye Whiskey, or a Swiss Malt Whiskey? Probably not! Having been judged to be among the best whiskeys in the world, however, should give you a reason to try them now. Either way, this is the cutting edge of today’s world of whiskey.

For a complete list of all the 2022 whiskey medalists, visit the Tasting Alliance website.

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