For the first time ever, an American distillery has taken home the highest honor in whisky. Michter’s, a Louisville, Kentucky-based bourbon and rye producer, eclipsed the biggest names from Scotland, Japan, Ireland, and beyond to rank first overall in the newly-released 2023 World’s Most Admired Whiskies Top 50 list published by Drinks International. With this stunning recognition, Michter’s joins a winner’s circle of iconic brands, including Yamazaki and Springbank.
The results, which are determined by an Academy of independent global drinks buyers, journalists, bartenders and whisky experts from more than 20 countries, represent the pinnacle of achievement in the global whisky trade and certify that American whiskey is finally being recognized for its excellence by connoisseurs around the world. In its significance, and perhaps even shock value, this thrilling announcement harkens back to the Judgment of Paris in 1976, when a Napa chardonnay and a Napa cabernet sauvignon prevailed over esteemed counterparts from Burgundy and Bordeaux in a landmark blind tasting that demolished critical expectations and sent the international image of American wine soaring.
“I could not be prouder of what this means not only for Michter’s but for the American whiskey community as a whole,” said Andrea Wilson, Michter’s Master of Maturation, former Chair of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame member. “It is the ultimate recognition of the attention to detail, discipline, rigor and focus on excellence that has characterized high-end American whiskey production for many years. At home, we’ve always had tremendous belief in our approach. Still, you would travel abroad and see bourbon placed on the bottom shelf almost automatically in many parts of the world, so it is exciting to see it reach such high regard. This means so much to our team and we couldn’t be more humbled to celebrate this moment in American whiskey with our friends throughout the industry,” Wilson continued.
For Michter’s President and fellow Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame member Joseph J. Magliocco, Michter’s being named the World’s Most Admired Whiskey caps a remarkable run that began in the 1990s with him and his two brothers acquiring for US$245 the Michter’s trademark, which had been abandoned, thereby obtaining the rights to the brand he had once sold as a summer job during the late 1970s. “This is a great day for American whiskey and a great day for Michter’s,” remarked Magliocco. “We are so grateful to the Academy and all the people who have done so much over the years to make this possible. I can’t say how thrilled and honored we all at Michter’s are. From my first days of learning about the heritage of Michter’s in Pennsylvania through the subsequent time our team has spent resurrecting the brand in Kentucky, we have always hoped that people would appreciate the brand’s legacy and dedication to quality. But if you told me that one-day Michter’s would be named the World’s Most Admired Whiskey, well, I would’ve thought you’d had one too many.”
According to Shay Waterworth, Editor of Drinks International, “Michter’s is officially the trade’s favorite whiskey. Not only does the brand have a fascinating back story, but it’s also making some of the best whiskies in the world right now and clearly, our global Academy agrees with me. Every trade show I attend, I see a crowd of bartenders, importers and buyers surrounding the Michter’s stand, which further justifies its place at the top of our esteemed ranking. It’s also great for the trade to have its first American whiskey sit atop The World’s Most Admired Whiskies; congratulations to the whole Michter’s team for this great success.”
To Michter’s Master Distiller Dan McKee, this watershed moment celebrates the passion and dedication of many individuals along the way. He commented, “I would like to thank the Academy for this extraordinary honor on behalf of our entire team, past and present. It reflects the decades of hard work and passing down of knowledge from generation to generation that it took to arrive at this point. From each and every person at Michter’s to all of our trade partners and friends, this would not be possible without you. I am tremendously grateful and honored.”
Will Michter’s being named the World’s Most Admired Whiskey catalyze even more global appreciation for America’s native spirit? That remains to be seen, but it is certainly a landmark step in that direction.
Beyond its main distillery in the Shively section of Louisville, Michter’s operations extend to two other sites in Kentucky. In Springfield, Michter’s is farming estate-grown grain on its 205-acre property, while in downtown Louisville, Michter’s has its second distillery in the historic Fort Nelson Building. In a prime location on West Main Street opposite Louisville Slugger and on the same block as the Frazier Museum, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery features the legendary pot still system from Michter’s, Pennsylvania. It also has educational tours with whiskey tastings and The Bar at Fort Nelson, which features classic cocktails curated by spirits and cocktail historian David Wondrich.
Michter’s has a rich and long legacy of offering traditional American whiskeys of uncompromising quality. With each of its limited production offerings aged to its peak maturity, Michter’s highly acclaimed portfolio includes bourbon, rye, sour mash whiskey, and American whiskey.