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The Best Whiskeys For An Old Fashioned

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

The Old Fashioned Cocktail at Dutch Kills Bar in LIC, NY

On December 1, 2020, one hundred years following the prohibition of alcohol and during the 87th anniversary of Repeal week , New York's premier cocktail exhibition and spirit showcase, the New York Cocktail Expo, brought together five Industry panelists for a historic blind tasting. They would decide the "Best Whiskey in the Old Fashioned," one of the most iconic cocktails of all time under the bright city lights.

The contest...same recipe, only a different whiskey in the cocktail each round. The recipe and cocktail for the tasting would be made and hosted by Dutch Kills Bar of Long Island City which was given the honor of this nomination for their highly respected and revered Old Fashioned (pictured above).

This occasion kicked off the "Best Spirits in Cocktails Awards", a series of ongoing spirit competitions, live-streamed from nominated bars which are known for making the best versions of iconic cocktails. The recipe and award winning whiskeys from the landmark Old Fashioned spirit competition are listed below. Cheers!

Gold Medal Winner

Starward Whiskey - Two-Fold

A velvety smooth and lightly spiced double-grain whisky. Think of a rich caramel dessert balanced by tropical fruit. An easy-drinking whisky crafted from Australian malted barley and wheat, aged in Australian red wine barrels for a fruity, caramel flavor. Double Grain Whisky / 750mL / 40% / 80 Proof

NOSE / Bright red berries coated in buttery vanilla spice.

PALATE / Imagine a smooth, rich caramel dessert balanced by tropical fruit.

FINISH / Delicate and long. A delicious, dry finish from a faded sweetness.

Silver Medal Winner

Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey

A true Tennessee whiskey blend. Each small batch has its barrels hand selected by our founders with each blend curated by our Master Blender and fifth generation Nearest Green descendant, Victoria Eady Butler. 7 years old and 93 proof.

Nose: Warm brown sugar and aromatic wood notes of pecan and oak. Toasted frame and cherry cordial. Balanced spices of some nutmeg and coriander.

Palate: Pleasant wrap of sweetness. Hints of coconut and walnut, maple syrup and cinnamon at the finish. Herbal rosemary.

Finish: Cinnamon lingers with oak tannins and continues with campfire smoke notes.

Bronze Medal Winner

With a mash bill of 51% corn and 49% millet, KOVAL Bourbon offers a drinking experience that is balanced, approachable, and unparalleled. The unusual grain combination provides notes of mango chutney and vanilla on the palate, with a peppery caramel finish. 94 proof.

1st Runner Up:

With only a 1 point difference for 3rd place in the Old Fashioned spirit competition, Old Elk Bourbon is handcrafted using a meticulous Slow Cut™ proofing process. All of the bourbon is taken out of the barrel at cask strength. "Traditionally, this process takes 24-48 hours. However, we choose to do it for a significantly longer period of time at very small increments. Our choice to extend the life of the proofing time to keep the liquid cool allows us to bottle every last drop of flavor.

Aroma: Sweet vanilla and caramel, clove spice, slight maple, and nutty almond

Taste: Maple syrup, almond, raw bran, chocolate, deep wood and coconut

Mouthfeel: Smooth and rich with a long finish

2nd Runner Up:

Our legendary apple wood smoked whiskey is carefully handcrafted and aged to perfection in our small batch distillery in Fairport, NY. We use ingredients from American farms and water from the glacier-formed Finger Lakes. The character of Iron Smoke is distinct… smooth tasting with a whisper of sweet apple wood smoke.

Deliciously smooth with notes of warm brown sugar, vanilla and caramel with a whisper of apple wood smoke on the finish.

"Old Fashioned" Cocktail Recipe

(Recipe spec by Dutch Kills Bar)


2 oz whiskey

1 sugar cube

4-5 dashes angostura bitters

Bar spoon soda water


Dash the bitters and soda water over the sugar cube in a whiskey glass. Muddle the sugar into a fine paste. Add the whiskey and stir in ice (1 large rock is preferable). Garnish with twists of lemon and orange making sure to express the oil over the drink before placing the twists, pith facing in, inside the glass.

View The video replay of the Live-streamed blind tasting at Dutch Kills!

The "Best Rum in the Daiquiri" spirit competition will be next in the series of Live-stream events. You can register free here to join in the audience and engage with the Judges panel during the tastings on May 24, 2021.

Whiskey brands can register to participate in the 2021 "Best Whiskey in the Old Fashioned" Spirit Competition here.

For more, follow @nycocktailexpo on Instagram


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