Jim Murray’s 2020 Best Whiskey in the World Is This High-Proof Kentucky Bourbon

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Jim Murray, author of the annually released Whisky Bible series, has announced his top whiskies for the forthcoming 2020 volume, and a Kentucky bourbon has once again taken top honors. And once again, it’s nearly impossible to find.

Murray named 1792 Full Proof Bourbon the best whiskey in the world. Full Proof is one of 1792’s most recent additions to the portfolio. It’s an annual release first bottled in 2016 and is perhaps best known for its knee-weakening 125 proof point—one of the highest on the market.

Murray named two additional Kentucky whiskeys—a bourbon and a rye—as No. 2 and No. 3 in his final list. All three of them are limited-production, annual-release whiskeys made in small enough supplies that most never see shelves before they’re sold to high-profile (and high-volume) customers.

Murray, who has been producing the annual Whisky Bible for 17 years, always releases the names of the major winners ahead of the actual on-sale date for his books. His rankings are the cause of much discussion and much debate. This year is likely not going to be very different.

Full Proof Bourbon from 1792, Jim Murray's best whisky in the world for 2019Full Proof Bourbon from 1792, Jim Murray’s best whisky in the world for 2019 Courtesy Image

With his annual lists, Jim Murray has made interesting choices in the past, and his choices have often created significant trends in the market. His awards for Yamazaki in the past have caused the already-hard-to-find Japanese whisky to be, well, impossible to find.

And his naming of Canada’s Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye as the best in the world in 2016 led not just to a near-instantaneous sellout of the product worldwide, but also to labor disputes that would, at one point, threaten to halt whiskey production with strikes (they were resolved).

Murray’s 2019 pick, which was published in October 2018, was the 2017 release of William Larue Weller—a tasty and rare bourbon, to be sure, but one that’s notorious for selling out within days of release worldwide. That whiskey would have been confined entirely to (illegal) resale markets by the time anyone saw a copy of Murray’s book.

For the 2020 second-place award, Murray again selected William Larue Weller’s 2018 release. The third: the 2018 release of Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye.

Since all three of this year’s “best in the world” are hard to find today, here are five whiskies from his list to keep an eye on the next time you visit your local shop:

Canadian Whisky of the Year: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Irish Single Malt of the Year: Bushmills Aged 21 Years

Best Blended Scotch Whisky 19–25 Years: Dewar’s Aged 25 Years The Signature

Best Single Cask Rye: Knob Creek Single Barrel Select

Best Bourbon 9 Years and Under: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel

Read the full list of winners here.

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