As bourbon lovers celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month, 15 STARS proudly announces that two fine-aged bourbons took top honors at the 2023 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition (NYWSC). This is the first time in NYWSC history that one brand has been awarded four key whiskey awards—including Best Bourbon of 2023 and Best Whiskey of 2023.

Released today, 15 STARS Sherry Cask Finish, a meticulous blend of straight bourbon whiskeys aged 13 and 10 years—bottled at 115 proof—was awarded Best Bourbon of 2023, Best Finished Bourbon of 2023, and Double Gold at the 2023 NYWSC.

15 STARS Sherry Cask Finish, expertly sourced from Kentucky and Indiana and finished in casks previously seasoned by sherry wine, is now available as a limited release in select retailers.

Released earlier this year, 15 STARS First West Rye was recently awarded top recognition at the 2023 NYWSC, including Best in Show for 2023, Best Rye Whiskey for 2023, and Double Gold. First West Rye is a select blend of straight rye whiskeys aged 8, 7, and 6 years from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee and bottled at 105 proof. This whiskey showcases distilling from America’s “First West,” which in 1795 was centered on Kentucky, the first state west of the Appalachians and included the Northwest and Southwest Territories.

With over 60 competition awards since debuting on the market in January 2022, the father/son duo, Rick and Ricky Johnson, are focused on making the best whiskey, which begins with highly aged whiskey—up to 19 years old. Their meticulous blending adds to the complexity and interest of the bourbon, while flavor proofing provides the optimal flavor at bottling. Bottling is only done when it reaches the duo’s high expectations.

“We are honored to have received top awards across several whiskey categories at the 2023 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition for our Sherry Cask Finish and First West Rye whiskeys,” said Ricky Johnson, 15 STARS co-founder. “As we recognize bourbon’s history this month, we also celebrate the future of bourbon using our creative blending, flavor-proofing, and barrel-finishing techniques found in our limited releases.” 

Sherry Cask Finish – Aged 10 & 13 Years ($179 MSRP)

  • Nose: Raisin, dried fig, clove, toffee, marshmallow, crème brûlée, and leather combine to create a magnificently complex aroma.

  • Palate: On the palate, indulgent notes of fruit cake, plum, bananas foster, and sherry meld with charred oak and cacao beans.

  • Finish: The finish begins with a burst of dark fruit and oak followed by long, enduring notes of dried cherry, raisin, and seasoned oak.

First West Rye – Aged 6, 7, & 8 years ($89 MSRP)

  • Nose: An exquisite blend of aromas revealing layers of floral, dried fruit, and spice notes.

  • Palate: Dried apricot, ginger, cinnamon, green tea, and lavender lead to a rich palate showcasing the aged rye whiskey components. Deeper on the palate, hints of dark cocoa balance traditional herbal tea, honey, and tobacco. 

  • Finish: A long finish balances light caramel with lingering ground pepper and rye spice.

During National Bourbon Heritage Month,15 STARS—named for Kentucky being the 15th state and the second U.S. flag (1795-1818), which represented Kentucky as the 15th state with 15 stars and 15 stripes, honors the craftsmanship of early Kentucky artisans and their tradition of excellence. Many artisans from that time are represented in the 15 STARS Collection, which inspired 15 STARS to produce bourbon that stands up to the high artisanship of that time. Visit the 15 STARS Collection at

Bourbon fans familiar with 15 STARS will recognize the new limited-release as every bottle is topped with a classic metal stopper inspired by the first U.S. coinage, which displayed 15 stars. Engraved by the American artisan Robert Scot, the design on the metal stopper represents the historic craftsmanship of early America that has stood the test of time. 

With a look to the future, 15 STARS has a significant inventory of aged bourbon stocks from 10 to 19 years old—the oldest will turn 20 in March 2024. The award-winning bourbon company is also contract distilling unique heritage corn bourbons and rye whiskey using black, red, white, and blue heritage corn, which have never been distilled—each producing individual flavors. The oldest will turn four in November and will be released only when ready. 

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Owner/President at The Bourbon Flight, LLC | + posts