Five Biggest Shockers from 2023 Whiskey of the Year Tasting


January 5, 2024

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged WHiskey of the Year Shockers

On Dec. 1, Fred Minnick released his list of the Top 100 American Whiskeys of the Year for 2023; now, following a live tasting to deserve the winner, he’s opened up about the five biggest shockers from the list.

5. Journeyman Corsets Whips & Whiskey

This one fared well at the ASCOT Awards for Fred, winning Best in Show two years in a row, but this time it managed to rank only 99th out of the Top 100.

“When I saw that, I was like, ‘Wooooaaah, what happened here?” Fred says in his video roundup below.

4. Larceny Barrel Proof

Shouldn’t be a shocker that Larceny would score high, right? Well, as it turns out, Larceny took not only second place but also third. C923 took second spot and A123 grabbed third. Sorry, B Series.

“I tasted through all 100 of them, and the two Larceny products were neck and neck to win it all,” Fred says with a chuckle. “That has never happened to me before.”

3. Everyday Bourbons

Green River came in 42nd, Michter’s US-1 came in 52nd and Old Forester 100 placed 61st. Meanwhile, Rare Breed dropped in at 55. This happened in part because Fred changed the criteria for what would be considered for the Top 100. If it wins a top taste-off, it can get in.

“It really did surprise me how these everyday bourbons were beating major allocated products,” Fred said.

For instance, they all outpaced the Willett 8-Year and Remus Gatsby, among others. Hey, and these are whiskeys you can find pretty much anywhere.

2. Stagg Cleans Up

Four, count them, FOUR Stagg products finished in the Top 15 in the 2023 tasting. At No. 15 was the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection George T. Stagg; at No. 11, he chose Stagg Jr. 23B; at No. 8, it was Stagg Jr. 22A, and the winner of the entire taste-off was the Prohibition Old Stagg.

Guess Fred was in a Stagg mood that night.

  1. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged

And the No. 1 shocker from the 2023 100 Best American Whiskeys was whereMaker’s Mark Cellar Aged, which Fred thought was a front-runner, finished. It came in at No. 84, which blew Fred’s mine.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” he said, “and this happens when you do tastings.”