I’ve really enjoyed the evolution of the whiskey scene over the past twelve months. The single barrel world is still on fire, with groups churning out so many unique and fun selections I decided to create a new category here on TheBourbonFinder just to highlight these. If you haven’t already checked out the Single Barrel Snapshot reviews, it’s worth seeing the unique selections and how they stack up.
The proverbial elephant in the room is, at least in my opinion, finished whiskey. I touched on this topic in my review of Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song, but my thoughts and feelings become a little mixed when we discuss finished whiskey.
Finished whiskey (whiskey that has been placed into an additional aging vessel after it has already matured in it’s original barrel) is absolutely stealing the show right now. Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. Hell, the WhistlePig Boss Hog I just mentioned has nearly taken the Whiskey of the Year throne each of the last two years, it’s just that damn delicious and unique; however, I can’t in good faith call a $500-600 limited edition bottle my whiskey of the year when so many options exist in a lower price range, but I digress.
I feel as though there is room for the argument that finished whiskey could detract from things I have always pushed for as a whiskey enthusiast. Things such as label transparency and fair pricing being the most prominent. Is it accurate (and fair) to label a product as bourbon if it has been dumped into a barrel that held other liquids? Does simply stating “bourbon finished in a ____ cask” tell the consumer exactly what they are buying? These are all questions I have.
While I’m not here to try and put an end to finished whiskey, I would say that I am cautiously optimistic about the future of things in this category. While some brands focus on transparency and share as much about their sourced materials as possible (*nods to Barrell Craft Spirits*) it’s safe to say there is room for less scrupulous activity, and there are certainly brands out there cashing in on some gray area labeling to sneak things by the consumer–want to know what I’m talking about? The next time you’re in your local liquro store take a walk by the ever-growing shelf of flavored whiskey (which is another rant all on its own) and grab a bottle of “BSB: Brown Sugar Bourbon” and read through the label…then promptly place it back on the shelf and buy a proper bottle of whiskey.
In any case, there are more bottles on the shelf than I can begin to count, which means I couldn’t try them all this year. A damn shame, to be sure, but that’s the reality of it. Fortunately, between the Whiskey Raiders Podcast, Weekly Whiskey on YouTube, and this very website you’re visiting currently, I have done a number of tastings and ratings to share with you as 2022 comes winding down to an end.
I hope the thoughts shared above brings you back to the core of your bourbon-drinking roots, and reminds you that buying a bottom shelf bottle is absolutely okay to do (even though I dislike that term). There is nothing at all wrong with inexpensive bourbon that is made with quality components and priced to please your palate as well as your wallet.
Okay, okay, I’ll keep from delaying you from the juicy bits of this post any further, and get right down to it.
And now…the winners
So here it goes, the list to summarize another massive year in the American whiskey world. As I sift through the last few ounces remaining in the bottles and try to collect my thoughts on which ones moved the needle the most, I’m realizing the list has grown in each category for 2022.
With the incredible growth of American whiskey (and bourbon in particular) we are seeing more brands arriving on the scene, more line extensions from existing brands, and just more whiskey overall. I think this highlights my stance on these being the good old days of whiskey, and is an indicator that the explosive growth in the category isn’t ready to slow down yet.
In each category below you’ll find my choices for “whiskey of the year” nominations. Bottles that land in these categories struck me as being among the best at what they do–this incorporates tasting notes, availability, and value. Notice I am not saying price. That’s intentional. Sadly, price is something that varies so drastically from market to market that I’d be foolish to say “this only costs X dollars” because I’d be proven wrong the moment a store owner felt like making a bigger margin.
So, then, I’ll use value as a metric for my choices for my whiskeys of the year, which long-time readers will know is something I only do for this one time of year. I feel that value is as subjective as flavor, so I prefer to share my thoughts on the whiskey itself and allow the reader to decide if my tasting notes interest them enough to spend the quid at their local liquor store.
With that out of the way, let’s do this. Here is TheBourbonFinder.com Whiskey of the Year List for 2022, and the grand champion revealed at the bottom of the page. Thanks so much for reading along. Cheers!
Bourbon Top Ten 2022
- Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (C922)
- Knob Creek 18 Year
- Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17 Year
- Seelbach’s Private Reserve 15 Year
- Col. E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof (Batch 10, 127.3 proof)
- Barrell Bourbon Batch 031*
- Larceny Barrel Proof C922
- Stellum Black Label Equinox #1
- Luca Mariano Single Barrel Bourbon
- Wild Turkey Rare Breed
*A typo was made and 033 was originally posted
Rye Top Ten 2022
- Pursuit United Rye
- Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye
- Maryland Heritage Series Sherwood 14 Year
- Found North Batch 003
- Old Ezra 7 Year Rye
- Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Rye
- WhistlePig Legend Series “Big Papi” Single Barrel
- Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye
- New Riff Balboa Rye
- Finger Lakes Distilling McKenzie Rye Single Barrel
Finished Whiskey Top Ten 2022
- WhistlePig Boss Hog IX “Siren’s Song”
- Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Seagrass
- Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Dovetail
- High West Midwinter Night’s Dram Act 10
- Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Seagrass
- Blood Oath Pact No. 8
- Maker’s Mark BRT-01
- Yellowstone Limited Edition 2022
- Maker’s Mark BRT-02
- Driftless Glen Port Barrel Finished Bourbon
Other Whiskey Top Three 2022
- Found North Batch #006 (Canadian Whisky)
- Penelope Founder’s Reserve Light Whiskey
- Bull Run American Whiskey Single Barrel
And the overall winner…