The Best Bourbons of 2021 According to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Photo Courtesy San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Via Instagram.
Photo Courtesy San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Via Instagram.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition has crowned its Best Bourbons winners and given out its medals, and a bourbon challenger has taken the title from among a field of heritage brands.

Kentucky’s Blue Run Spirits had what could be considered a mini-sweep of this year’s awards. Blue Run 14 Year Old Small Batch won Best Small Batch Bourbon 11 Years and Older, and Blue Run 13.5 Single Barrel won Best Single Barrel 11 Years and Older, Best Single Barrel, and Best Bourbon.

Blue Run launched less than a year ago in October 2021. The source of their liquid is currently undisclosed, but there is one name associated with the brand that might be familiar to many: Jim Rutledge, who is acting as the brand’s “liquid advisor.”

Another standout in the field was the 14th edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection. Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 Year Old Heavy Char Bourbon Kentucky won both the Best Small Batch Bourbon 6-10 years category, as well as the Best Small Batch Bourbon category.

The rest of this year’s American whiskey winners represented bourbons, ryes, and other whiskeys from a diverse number of locations and distilleries.

You can see a list below:

Best Corn Whiskey: Stillhouse Original Whiskey

Best Flavored Whiskey: Ugly Dog S’mores Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Best Rye Whiskey: WhistlePig The Boss Hog VII- Magellan’s Atlantic

Best Single Barrel Bourbon – Up to 10 Years: Henry McKenna Single Barrel

Best Single Grain Whisk(e)y: Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Single Grain Whiskey

Best Small Batch Bourbon – Up to 5 Years: Barrell Private Release BA1C

Best Special Barrel-Finished Bourbon: Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de la Baude

Best Straight Bourbon: 1792 Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Best Tennessee Whiskey: Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey Tennessee

Best Wheat Whiskey: Bainbridge Two Islands Islay Cask Barrel Proof Wheat Whiskey

Best Craft Distiller Whiskey: Canyon Diablo Spirits John Shaw Single Malt Mesquite Smoked Whisky

G. Clay Whittaker
Clay is Editor at Large of The Bourbon Review. He has written about whiskey, food, drink, and culture for Esquire, Playboy, Men's Journal, Popular Science, Southern Living, Maxim, among others.