Six bourbons won Platinum medals, and 13 won Gold Medals at the 2023 Las Vegas Global Spirit Awards (LVGSA).
The top bourbon in the Bourbon and Corn Whiskey Aged 4 – 10 years category was Uncle Nearest, Single Barrel Whiskey Batch 002, 59%, 750 ml, 98/100 points. The Uncle Nearest whiskey also took Best Overall Bourbon.
The LVGSA Judging Panel described the Uncle Nearest Bourbon as featuring:
Savory on the nose with herbal, fruity, and brown sugar aromas. Smooth, oily, and slightly drying on the palate with notes of caramel, stone, and tropical fruits, and somewhat peppery. The finish is long and fruity, with a persistent pepperiness.
Also winning Platinum medals were Uncle Nearest, Master Blend Edition, Batch 025, 55.5% ABV, 750 ml, 96/100 points; Garrison Brothers, Lady Bird, 57% ABV, 750 ml, 96/100 points; and Garrison Brothers, Balmorhea, Twice Barreled Bourbon Whiskey, 57.5% ABV, 750 ml, 97/100 points. Garrison was the standout brand, winning seven Platinum and Gold medals.
The LVGSA Judging panel described the Uncle Nearest Master Blend as exhibiting:
Pronounced caramel, vanilla, earthy, and fruity aromas on the nose. Smooth and oily on the palate with notes of stone and tropical fruit, vanilla, and caramel. The finish is long, sweet, and fruity, with a persistent pepperiness.
The Garrison Brothers Lady Bird Bourbon is honey-infused and finished in Cognac casks. The LVGSA Judging Panel described it as featuring:
Candied sweetness on the nose, with coffee, milk chocolate, caramel, and coffee notes. It is very smooth on the palate with a noticeable mouth weight featuring notes of candied pecan, caramel, vanilla, stone fruits, white chocolate, and cinnamon spice. The finish is long and sweet, with lingering chocolate and cinnamon notes.
Winning Gold medals in the Bourbon and Corn Whiskey Aged 4-10 Years were Earl Stevens Selection, Kuiper Belt, 6 YO Kentucky Bourbon, 45% ABV, 750 ml, 93/100 points, and Uncle Nearest, 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey, 50% ABV, 750 ml, 92/100 points.
Bourbon Rabbi, 57.5% ABV, 750 ml, 96/100 points, and Good Trouble, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Small Batch, 46% ABV, 750 ml, 96/100 points, both won Platinum medals in the Bourbon and Corn Aged 4 Years and Younger category.
The LVGSA Judging panel described the Bourbon Rabbi Whiskey as exhibiting:
Sweet and floral aromas on the nose, along with caramel and vanilla. Sweet, smooth, and oily on the palate with dried fruit notes, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, and wood spices. The finish is long, sweet, and fruity, with a pronounced and lingering pepperiness.
The Good Trouble, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, was described by the LVGSA Judging Panel as featuring:
Savory aromas on the nose with dried fruit, caramel, vanilla, and seasoned oak notes. Smooth and oily on the palate with distinctive tropical fruit notes, caramel, vanilla, and assorted wood spices. The finish is long and sweet, with tropical fruit notes and a lingering pepperiness.
Winning Gold medals were Uncle Nearest, 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, 46.5% ABV, 750 ml, 94/100 points; 1620 Distilling Company, Small Batch Bourbon, 45% ABV, 750 ml, 92/100 points; Fat Labrador Distillers, Whiskey Town, 3 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Craft Finished on Oak Staves, 45% ABV, 750 ml, 91/100 points; Garrison Brothers, Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey, 47% ABV, 750 ml, 94/100 points; Garrison Brothers, Guadalupe Port Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 53.5% ABV, 750 ml, 93/100 points; Garrison Brothers, Cowboy Bourbon, 70.45% ABV, 750 ml, 93/100 points; Garrison Brothers, Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon, 47% ABV, 750 ml, 92/100 points; Garrison Brothers, Honey Dew Honey Infused Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40% ABV, 750 ml, 92/100 points; Rolling Barrel, Single Barrel Bourbon, 40% ABV, 750 ml, 91/100 points; Giant Texas Distillers, Giant Texas Cask Strength, Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 55% ABV, 750 ml, 90/100 points; and Giant Texas, Cask Strength, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 60.8% ABV, 750 ml, 90/100 points.
The LVGSA was founded in 2016 and is now in its seventh year. As the largest spirits competition in Las Vegas, it has consistently exerted a broad national influence. Not only is Las Vegas a significant beverage market, but the city’s burgeoning restaurant and mixology community has increasingly gained a reputation for innovation, placing it on the cutting edge of national trends. Moreover, craft brands that win Platinum and Gold medals in the competition are almost always offered distribution in Nevada. For an aspiring craft distiller, placement in the high-profile Las Vegas market is often critical to obtaining national distribution.
The 2023 LVGSA identified some outstanding bourbon whiskeys. Some, like Uncle Nearest and Garrison Brothers, are well-known brands in the American whiskey universe, others less so. All are worth exploring and will be richly rewarding to the bourbon connoisseur.