The World’s Best Whiskey – According to the 2023 American Spirits Council of Tasters
The American Spirits Council of Tasters, known as the ASCOT Awards, meets annually to determine the best spirits in all categories. The ASCOT Awards is a council of 43 professionals from the industry who blind-taste more than 1,100 entries over several days. The commission has just announced its Best in Show; the liquid tasted the most during the 2023 version. The winner…is a shocker. The grand prize winner is Corsets, Whips & Whiskey from Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan.
It’s not the whiskey that makes this a shocker. It’s great. Nor are we surprised that the distillery exists outside the traditional production nexus of Kentucky/Tennessee/Indiana. There are many great American whiskeys from across the country. The crazy thing is that this particular wheated whiskey won the ASCOT Award for Best in Show for the Second Year in a Row!
When we refer to “wheat whisky,” we do not mean a wheated Bourbon. Pappy VanWinkle, Old Fitzgerald, and Maker’s Mark are all examples of this type. These expressions are primarily made from corn, as any bourbon requires. However, they also incorporate wheat instead of rye into the mash bill. This gives them a softness that is popular amongst connoisseurs.
Corsets, Whips & Whiskey is unique because it’s single-distilled completely using 100% organic wheat. It’s also sourced from the state where Journeyman is from, Michigan. This makes it a unique product from the standpoint of ingredients. Already, 100% wheat whiskies can be found in limited quantities. The ones you’ll find will likely be sourced from Kansas or North Dakota. These two states together account for around 80% of US Wheat output.
The Michigan terroir is a vanilla-laden dessert dram. The dram is not too sweet but does have a custard-like flavor with cinnamon-dusted flan in the middle palate. It may even be a hint of Bananas Foster. The allspice, clove, and cinnamon come out in the finish. This is the kind of spice you would expect to find in an Irish whiskey, not something distilled on the shores of Lake Michigan. Corsets, Whips & Whiskey also come in cask strength. Each batch is blended according to the profile of each bottle. The more experienced sippers prefer strong liquors (the latest bottling is 117 proof). The fact that each release is slightly different means that the whiskey that ASCOT judges loved in 2022 will almost certainly be further from the whiskey they tasted in 2023. This makes the streak even more impressive. Journeyman Distillery is doing something special.
The operation is located in an ex-dry town and occupies the 19th Century factory used to make corsets and buggy whips used by horse-drawn carriage drivers. The odd name for the release is a result of this.
You can order a bottle by visiting the distillery website. The bottle is currently $69 and can be shipped directly to the consumer if state laws allow it. You should go now to Three Oaks and see what they put into the water. Or, even more important, what goes into the whiskey?