NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We in this great nation have been distilling bourbon since the 18th century, but the name never stuck until the 1820's. The delicious liquor always calls to mind the South, specifically Kentucky, where approximately 95% of all American bourbon was produced as of 2013. In fact, the 4.9 million barrels of bourbon aging in the state outnumber the human beings that populate it.
Bourbon may be primarily a Kentucky product, but one of the most famous drinkers of the beverage was a Hoboken, N.J. native named Frank Sinatra. The Rat Pack member loved bourbon, and Frank Sinatra Jr. told Men's Journal that his father frequently had a tumbler of Jack Daniels in his hand.
"Jack was my father's drink of choice," Sinatra Jr. said. "My father was the kind of man who liked to hang out. He'd get with his cronies and sit up and sip all night. It helped him keep going."
Sinatra's love for bourbon even extended through his death. The singer and actor was buried with a bottle of bourbon, along with a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and a roll of dimes so he could phone his loved ones from the afterlife.
But not all bourbon is created equally. Some bottles represent the best of the best, and the 2014 International Wine & Spirit Competition sorted through the various brands to determine the best bourbon in the world. We've highlighted some of their selections that received the Gold Outstanding and Gold designations for you to view and included judges' commentary on each drink.
Blanton's Gold Edition Bourbon Whiskey
Blanton website says the company created this "Gold Outstanding" award winner "for discerning connoisseurs who appreciate exceptional smoothness and clean finish in their bourbon whiskey." This bourbon is only available internationally as of this writing, but it is also available in some duty free shops such as those found in airports.
IWSC Commentary: Very attractive fruity nose with ripe dark berries, apricot and some tropical fruits. Some herbal hints and waft of floral perfume. Rich and full in the mouth with massive wave of spice and ripe fruits. Beautiful balance and fine texture. Lovely long finish where stone fruits play a closing part.
Blanton's Straight from the Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
Blanton's scored yet another "Gold Outstanding" award in 2014 with its Straight from the Barrel offering, which features varying alcohol by volume in each bottle.
IWSC Commentary: Generous amount of citrus in the nose with mandarin very prominent along with lemon and orange rind. Some hints of ripe tropical fruit especially mango and touch of passion fruit. Well judged oak. Rich and full in the mouth with great show of sweet spice including vanilla and cinnamon. Oak is ever present. Smooth flow and fine texture. Finish has full fruit and again shows fine oak.