A California distillery just won the award for Best Pot Still Bourbon in America. Called Warbringer, the winning whiskey is one of the country’s small but increasing numbers of pot-distilled whiskeys. While column distillation offers significant efficiency advantages over pot distillation and is the dominant form of whiskey making in the United States, a growing trend of producers are opting to use the older, pot-distilled method, which can result in a fuller, more nuanced spirit.
Using a recipe created by Ph.D. biochemist David Brandt, Warbringer features a mash bill of 75% hand-roasted & mesquite-smoked corn and 25% malted rye. The flaking grits corn is smoked for 2-days with natural mesquite firewood from Texas.
“Mesquite is a magical wood,” says Sespe Creek owner, Alfred English. “It has an unmistakable flavor that immediately calls to mind great BBQ, like fall-off-the-bone ribs and roadside burgers. When you pair mesquite smoke with an especially robust and rich pot-distilled bourbon, it creates a massive, complex dram that just tastes great and transports you somewhere else.”
Warbringer, which bills itself as “The Big Beast of Bourbon,” is made in Oxnard, California by Sespe Creek Distillery. The distillery is named after a nearby Los Padres National Forest stream. The Warbringer brand also includes a cask strength, single barrel release called Warmaster Edition, which is made in partnership with former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Josh “Warmaster” Barnett. Barnett’s barrel pick garnered a Gold Medal at the 2020 San Francisco Spirits Competition in the “Single Barrel – Up To 10 Years” category.
Run by the team at Whisky Magazine as part of the World Drinks Awards competitions, the World Whiskies Awards was launched in 2007, and is one of the industry’s most highly anticipated international events. Warbringer’s top award was earned in the “No Age Statement” category, a class of whiskies made from blends of various ages.