What to Drink

Top 10 Whiskeys to drink in 2021

Pick your liquid luck as we bring to you award-winning whiskeys stamped with a mark of gold.

Indulge yourself in a premium whiskey line-up approved by top bartenders, bar managers, and whiskey buyers with a current direct commercial buying responsibility in the US market.

As whiskey enthusiasts look for a new blend in the trend, the USA Spirits Ratings plays a part in shedding light on brands that deserve a place in the market. The competition saw American whiskies dominate the proceedings in San Francisco this year, emerging with the most gold medals in their respective segment.

The USA Spirits Ratings aims to add value and recognize brands that deserve a place in the US market. Judging on the basis of quality, value, and packaging, brands are awarded gold (above 90 points), silver (80-89 points), bronze (70-79points), and special category awards after undergoing a blind tasting procedure.

Here are 10 gold medal-winning whiskeys you must stock up on.

Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey - US-53

97 points

unclenearest1820premiumsinglebarrelwhiskey top10whiskeysof2021

Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey, Source: Instagram

Star of the show and Whiskey of the Year, Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey has an impressive 108 proof cask strength. Hailing from Lynchburg, the birthplace of Tennessee whiskey, Uncle Nearest has kept their two-centuries-old recipes a secret. The award-winning whiskey has an aromatic nose of honeycomb, dark chocolate-covered raisins, candied orange peel, and coffee beans, carrying forward a rich palate made of vanilla, caramel, and baking spice.

Average price: $119.99

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Cowboy

93 points

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Cowboy bourbon whiskey from Garrison Brothers Distillery, Source: Facebook

The high-proof bourbon made in Texas heat displays deceptive aromas of firewood and freshly cut cedar. Becoming the first legal bourbon took a lot of perseverance as casks initially snapped at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. But Dan and his team broke through with hell-bent efforts, giving us the spirit. Cowboy bagged a gold at the 2021 USA Spirits Ratings with sweet flavors of caramel candy, toasted honey, and plum jelly lingering on the spicy cinnamon and clove driven palate. For something strong enough to run a car engine, the finish is incredibly smooth.

Average price: $229.99

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Redwood Empire - Pipe Dream

93 points

redwoodempirepipedream top10whiskeysof2021 julepdreamcocktail

Julep Dream cocktail made with Redwood Empire - Pipe Dream, Source: Website

Named after the 14th tallest tree on the planet, Pipe Dream is made in barrels with a high corn mash bill. Redwood Empire drives inspiration from John Muir’s philosophy regarding the spiritual union of ‘man and nature’. The sweet nose of orange, cherry, and soft grape leads to a palate made from caramelized bananas and candied oranges.

Try in a cocktail:

Julep Dream

Recipe by Redwood Empire

2 oz Redwood Empire Pipe Dream
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 oz lemon juice
6 mint leaves

Muddle all the ingredients in a julep glass and then add crushed ice and stir. Top with a splash of seltzer and serve.

Average price: $37.99

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Bushmills Black Bush

92 points

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Black Bush Irish whiskey, Source: Facebook

The highest-rated Irish whiskey on the list, Bushmills Black Bush exceptionally combines malt with light grains. Bushmills is the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, deriving its name from the mills that made barley and the water source to their products, river Bush in Ireland. The Best in Show by Country (Ireland) award winner expresses nuances of toasted oats with butter on the nose. Its smoky meat palate delivers a velvety long finish.

Try in a cocktail:

Black Fashioned

Recipe by Bushmills

2 parts Bushmills Black Bush
1/4 part agave syrup
Few dashes of orange bitters
Orange rind and dark cherry
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice. Add a dash of orange bitters and a dash of agave syrup. Stir until fully incorporated. Strain into a rocks glass with large ice cubes. Garnish with orange rind and a cherry.

Average price: $35

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Redwood Empire - Lost Monarch

92 points

redwoodempirelostmonarch top10whiskeysof2021 sierraclubcollinscocktail

Sierra Club Collins cocktail, Source: Website

Another whiskey from Redwood Empire, Lost Monarch is a gold medal-winning bourbon-rye blend, balancing sweet and spicy notes. Starting off with an intriguing hint of sandalwood on the nose, its rich and complex palate bursts with spice, honey, and vanilla flavors. For every bottle sold, Redwood Empire plants a tree.

Try in a cocktail:

Sierra Club Collins

Recipe by Redwood Empire

2 oz Redwood Empire Lost Monarch Blend
1/2 oz fresh apple juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 oz soda
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 5 seconds. Open the shaker and add 1 oz of soda. Pour into a tall Collins glass and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.

Average price: $43.99

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Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength

91 points

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Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength, Source: Facebook

With rich and deep scents of wood and crème brûlée on the nose, Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength pushes the boundaries of a four-grain barrel profile with a hot palate that opens up well-developed notes of molasses, caramel, burnt sugar, and dried apricot. Owners Mike and Kerry always knew that if they had a girl, her name would be Penelope. With the stars aligning to make it happen, it gave birth to two things that they love so dearly - their baby girl and straight bourbon whiskey.

Try in a cocktail:

Barrel Strength Manhattan

Recipe by Penelope Bourbon

2 oz Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength
1 oz Italian sweet vermouth
2 dashes of angostura bitters
Bar spoon of luxardo cherry juice
Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Average price: $75.99

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Cocoa Bomb Chocolate Whiskey

91 points

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Rich and chocolatey Cocoa Bomb Chocolate Whiskey, Source: Facebook

An extremely smooth 75 proof whiskey flavored with natural cane sugar, Cocoa Bomb Chocolate Whiskey is the latest masterpiece from Heritage Distilling Company. A majority women-owned enterprise, Heritage Distilling Company is one of the largest craft distilleries on the West Coast. Aromatized with cocoa butter and caramel candy nose, the gold medal winner brings chocolate, toffee, and spice notes on the finish.

Average price: $35

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Black Whiskey

91 points

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Don Michael Black Whiskey, Source: Facebook

Claiming to be the first and the best Andean whiskey in the world, Don Micheal’s Black Whiskey scents with rich fragrances of toasted grains, red plum, and cinnamon. The lively and fresh palate holds together layers of cooked brown sugar, brown butter, and butterscotch. Refining the process of making an Andean homemade beer called chicha jora, Don Micheal uses a state-of-the-art distillery to smoothen the Andean black corn by adding malted grains.

Average price: $120

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Fat Pug American Malt Whiskey

91 points

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Fat Pug American Malt Whiskey inspired by Fat Pug Milk Stout, Source: Facebook

Posing with an addictive nose of milk chocolate, overripe banana, and cinnamon, Fat Pug American Malt Whiskey is rich in cocoa powder nuances. The full-bodied whiskey expresses a flavorful palate of toffee, chocolate, and spiced figs. To dive straight into a Fat Pug experience, try the Brewer’s Old Fashioned cocktail made with Fat Pug Whiskey, Fat Pug Oatmeal Milk Stout, brown sugar, bitters, and cherry at the Maplewood lounge.

Location - 2717 N Maplewood Ave, Chicago, IL 60647.

Timings - 3 pm to 9 pm (Monday)
                3 pm to 10 pm (Tuesday to Wednesday)
                3 pm to 12 am (Thursday)
                1 pm to 12 am (Friday)
                11 am to 12 am (Saturday)
                12 pm to 9 pm (Sunday)

Average price: $89.99

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Laguna Madre

90 points

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Laguna Madre from Garrison Brothers, Source: Facebook

A straight bourbon aged in Limousin oak, Laguna Madre is a limited release that can be enjoyed on special occasions. The oldest whiskey from Garrison Brothers scents of dark red fruit and stewed stone fruit aromas. With a 101 proof cask strength, the palate is incredibly smooth, made up of hazelnut, vanilla bean, and spices. This 90 point whiskey finishes with a white chocolate aftertaste.

Average price: $229.99

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