Whiskey of the Year 2023

This has been a year of interesting whiskey news, many fun podcast episodes, and whiskey reviews that really covered a large spread.  In the interest of transparency I want to share a quick apology for not getting this list published sooner.  I spent a number of weeks under the weather in December, and I just didn’t have the time (and mostly the energy) to distill a year’s worth of reviews and tastings into a final post.  I’m back in action now, though, and ready to share my jumbled up mess of thoughts with you as coherently as I’m able.  What a year!  One of the things I have been incredibly thankful for has been the growth of this community. I want to offer a sincere thank you to anyone who has found a post on this website useful enough to share it with a friend or family member. Sharing links to my reviews via DM’s, text messaging and reposting my reviews on private forums, is such a great avenue for growth that only works if you’re willing to do it on your own; furthermore, sharing to Facebook, Twitter, or any social platform has more of an impact than you could know–and it truly means a lot to me. So here’s to you, the reader, and the avid whiskey enthusiast. I wish you a whiskey-filled 2024, and hope to you continue to check in for your whiskey content. As a final push to grow the community, I would love to have you join us in Discord to chat whiskey nearly 24/7.


John H.


Best Whiskeys of the Year


January 5th, 2024

To quote the late John Lennon “Another year over, and a new one just begun” comes to mind as I tap the keys on this post, although I’d almost go so far as to say that quote is a bit of an understatement with the increasing momentum of the whiskey world, but I digress.

This year we observed continued growth in the finished whiskey world–which will be highlighted below in the scoring section–as well as an expected increase in limited edition whiskey. In terms of pricing, well, we witnessed increases across the board there as well and–as you’ll see–this ultimately removed a few competitors from the final podium.

This year’s scoring is similar to my previous Whiskey of the Year posts, in that I am not simply presenting the best-tasting whiskey (although that is obviously among the most important criteria) as I feel like my Whiskey of the Year should represent a product that tastes great, but is also widely available, and for a fair price.

Honestly, that bit about a fair price makes it a little more tricky than it may sound because–as I have said in previous posts–value is as subjective as flavor so when I mention price or value, please keep in mind that I’m talking about the SRP (suggested retail price) of the product.

I’ve done a lot of thinking (and perhaps a fair amount of drinking) on the subject to really narrow things down for this year’s Whiskey of the Year candidates. Ultimately I have put together lists within each category that I believe check the boxes required in terms of flavor to earn the nod to make the top ten.

The criteria for the top lists of year weighs heavily on quality of flavor, then considers pricing and availability. From those top lists in each category I narrow down the options to the bottles that meet all three criteria in the most standout way. Basically, the winner will be the best overall from each category as I see it. Enough chat, let’s get on with the winners.

And now…the winners

As I mentioned in the intro, I had intended to release this list in early to mid December to follow up from my Bourbon Buying Guide for the holidays, but I spent so much time sick that I just couldn’t hit those last few tastings of the year to put my best effort into the winners.

With that said, I’ve finally had time to chip away at the list and narrow things down as best I can. It’s always a bit bittersweet for me when I am making this list, because there are too many great bottles to include everything in the list; however, some really stand out to me, and that is what I’m sharing with you today. The true standout bottles from 2023.

You will see a few familiar faces in each Top Ten category, and you’ll see some that have become regular appearances due to their continued quality and/or value. These rankings are presented in no particular order. Thank you again, dear reader, I appreciate you for reading along. Cheers!

Bourbon Top Ten 2023

  • Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged
  • Still Austin Bottled in Bond Red Corn Bourbon
  • Pride of Anderson County Bourbon
  • Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2023
  • Barrell Bourbon New Year 2024
  • Ben Holladay Bottled in Bond Soft Red Wheat Bourbon
  • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (A123)
  • Russell’s Reserve 13 Year
  • Stellum Black Label Bourbon
  • Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

Rye Top Ten 2023

  • Frey Ranch Bottled in Bond Rye
  • Pride of Anderson County Rye
  • Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye
  • Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye
  • WhistlePig PiggyBack Single Barrel Rye
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Rye Batch 04
  • Still Austin Cask Strength Rye
  • Pursuit United Rye
  • Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof Rye
  • Sagamore Spirit Rye

Finished Whiskey Top Ten 2023

  • WhistlePig Boss Hog X “The Commandments”
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Tale of Two Islands Bourbon
  • Penelope Bourbon Rio
  • Dancing Goat Distillery I Would Rye For Your
  • Chicken Cock Double Oak Kentucky Whiskey
  • Barrell Craft Spirits S1B52 Private Release Armagnac Finish
  • Westward XO Cognac Finished American Single Malt
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Seagrass
  • WhistlePig Beholden 21 Year North American Single Malt
  • Found North Single Barrel (S001B004) Finished in Sauternes

Other Whiskey Top Five 2023

  • Westward Milestone (Batch 01) American Single Malt
  • Redbreast 27 (Batch 02) Irish Whiskey
  • Westland Whiskey Heritage Sherry Wood American Single Malt
  • George Dickel Bottled in Bond 13 Year Tennessee Whiskey
  • Bernheim Barrel Proof (A223) Wheat Whiskey

Honorable Mentions 2023

  • Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Tale of Two Islands Bourbon
  • Pride of Anderson County Bourbon
  • WhistlePig Boss Hog X: The Commandments
  • Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2023

And the overall winner…

Whiskey of the Year 2023: Barrell Craft Spirits Rye Batch 04

Final thoughts…

I feel as though I say this every year, but the competition is so incredibly tough, and as prices continue to rise, meeting the criteria to move to the upper echelon of this list seems to get tougher by the year. I found the rye category particularly challenging this year as there was a pretty massive gap in pricing between the limited editions products that I tasted and the standard expressions. As you see, price and availability was the deciding factor in the end.

Speaking of price and availability, I suppose now is as good a time as any to address what I feel like might be an elephant in the room: Pride of Anderson County. This collaboration between Rare Character and Rare Bird 101 represented so much more than the liquid in the bottle can explain, and I have to say it is truly the best Wild Turkey Bourbon I have ever tasted; however, the extremely limited quantity (due to the nature of single barrel bourbon at such an age) and high price just didn’t measure up in terms of my Whiskey of the Year consideration. Damn good whiskey though, and I strongly recommend anyone try it if they are ever given the chance. I’d almost go so far as to say Wild Turkey fans won’t regret the price of the pour, whatever it may be. Almost.

Photo courtesy: Bourbon Lore and Jake Langston

Photo courtesy: Bourbon Lore and Jake Langston

I found myself happy to [finally] place a bourbon at the very top of my list with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (C922) last year, as it was the first bourbon to actually take my whiskey of the year. Seems a little strange that on a website titled The Bourbon Finder that rye continues to lead the pack, but here we are. This year’s notable bourbon list was full of contenders. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged was very nearly my winner but, as with Pride of Anderson County and WhistlePig’s Boss Hog X, the pricing and availability wound up being the only constraints.

Photo Courtesy: Maker’s Mark

Barrell Rye Batch 04 truly spoke to me. From my very first sip, right through the multiple tastings I have done throughout the year, this whiskey just kicks ass. The layers of flavor, the killer finish, the price, and the availability of such a well-distributed product left no doubt in my mind. Barrell Rye Batch 4 is whiskey of the year material through and through.

Photo Courtesy: Barrell Craft Spirits

Touching briefly on a category that truly impressed me this year, the Finished Whiskey section of my Whiskey of the Year was something of a monster to deal with. The innovation that producers were able to capture in the bottle this year really took me by surprise. Barrell Craft Spirits hits the list again here with Tale of Two Islands Bourbon. This is a true masterclass in whiskey finishing and blending. Just wow! WhistlePig also makes an appearance here with their Boss Hog X: The Commandments, as it’s just such an incredibly designed product that brings the drinker into totally foreign, yet delicious, territory.

Photo Courtesy: WhistlePig Whiskey

This was a year of transition for the content I release. Jay and I shifted from focusing on YouTube under the Weekly Whiskey banner to focusing more on the Whiskey Raiders Podcast in an effort to reach more folks. Truth be told, the amount of time and effort we put into creating YouTube content with high production value turned out to be far less sustainable for us than we imagined. Who knows, maybe we’ll be back on the screen in 2024, but for now we’re excited to keep releasing podcast episodes for the folks who are interested in listening to a couple of jokers chat about whiskey. Thank you again for another great year, and I hope you’ll continue to read along and share this with whiskey lovers in your life. Cheers!

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