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Is the Best Bourbon Really From Kentucky? Maybe Not

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We know this is going to generate controversy, so let’s just lean right in: the top-scoring bourbon this month isn’t from Kentucky—it’s a single cask made in Boulder, Colorado.

In many ways, this signifies how the bourbon boom has broadened, particularly over the last decade. Bourbon’s made in seemingly every corner of the country, though some wondered when upstart craft distilleries across the country would master bourbon. In the early days, too many rushed out whiskey aged in small barrels, whether an attempt to speed up the aging process or just lack of experience. There was even a running industry joke that any “craft whiskey” was doomed to be overoaked, “like sucking on a stave.”

Happily, that’s no longer true. In addition to that Colorado barrel, look to carefully-crafted bourbons from Kentucky’s New Riff, for example, using a measure of heirloom wheat to create a bourbon tinged with toasted gingerbread tones, or New York state’s Coppersea, which has built a 100% NY-sourced bourbon, from grain to Hudson Valley oak barrels, that would be perfectly at home mixed into a Manhattan.