NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The best whiskey has been known to make the world go around. After numerous attempts to open trade to Japan ended with the emperor rebuffing all advances, U.S. President Franklin Pierce sent Commodore Matthew Perry, eight gunships and a 110 gallon barrel of whiskey to smooth things over. Some 150 years later we can thank those forward thinkers and their barrel of whiskey for opening trade between East and West.
The first confirmed written record of distilled whiskey comes from 1405 Ireland and is attributed to the demise of a chieftan who drank himself to death at a Christmas party.
Whiskey in its infancy was an extremely harsh drink due to the fact that it was not allowed to age. However, as distillation techniques were refined the drink became increasingly popular in Europe.
Whiskey is now housed in metal stills lined with copper which removes the sulfur-based compounds and makes the drink much smoother than it used to be
The drink was so popular in the West during the 18th century that whiskey was used as currency during the Revolutionary War.
Whiskey's popularity in the U.S. is growing exponentially with annual sales of Tennessee whiskey increasing 10.2% and surpassing $1 billion last year.
With that in mind here are the 10 best whiskies in the world as judged by 2013 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC)...
The Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select Whiskey
This South African whiskey was launched in 1991 and has won multiple awards including Best Whiskey Outside of Scotland Aged 12 years and Younger at the 2009 Whiskey Magazine's Worldwide Whiskey Awards, and a gold medal at the 2013 IWSC. Each bottle contains 43% ABV and costs $35. Here's what the IWSC had to say about it:
"Beautifully peaty nose with gentle smoky twist. Fairly robust in the mouth with slight sweet note and lots of ripe fruit. Peat really takes hold in the mouth and adds a great deal of character. Long, full, warming and satisfying finish."
Kavalan Vinho Barrique Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey
This $160 bottle of Taiwanese whiskey uses American oak casks that held either white or red wine before being re-toasted for use in distilling this award winning whiskey. Here's what the IWSC had to say about it:
"Sweet, ripe fruit with bananas, peach and pear. Some dried apricot and raisin. Lively entry into the mouth with all the ripe fruit showing well with good oak backing. The high strength gives all the characters a lift but dilution makes them all the more accessible. Well fruited finish"
Mackmyra Moment Glod Single Malt Whiskey
This is the eleventh release in the Sweedish single malt whiskey's Moment series. The bottle contains 51.2% ABV and has an average retail price of $102. The IWSC had this to say about the liquor:
"Nose delivers delicate dried fruits with faint underpinning of fine oak. Well defined sugars with slight earthiness that adds a delightful attraction. Well weighted in the mouth with malt and vanilla flavours with balance from drying cocoa characters. Balance of fruit and spice is as good as it gets. Great combination and balance. Long, fruit filled finish."
Braunstein Library Collection Cask Edition No. 4
This Danish whiskey is one of the more potent selections at 60.9% ABV. It won a Gold medal at the IWSC and judges had this to say:
"High strength gives great lift to all the sugary aromatics. Barley sugar mingles with bourbon along with some fudge and caramel. Firm flow through the mouth with attractive malty and barley notes along with a strong fruit cake character. Well developed aromatic finish."
Bain's Cape Mountain Whiskey 5 YO
This South African single grain whiskey has had a fast rise since its introduction in 2010. Retailing for $49.59 and containing 43% ABV, it has won multiple awards including Best Grain Whiskey at the World Whiskey Awards. Judges at the IWSC had this to say:
"Very attractive nose with complex mingle of sweet corn, raisin, ripe apple and pear aromas. Vanilla, barley sugar and cinnamon make up the complexity of the nose. Clean lively entry into the mouth with sweet grainy firmness. Well balanced and fine texture. Light and elegant yet powerfully flavoured. Full fruited finish. A great grain."
Three Ships Single Malt Whiskey 10 YO
This 10 YO older brother of the South African distiller's other award winning 5 YO whiskey, costs $81.97 and contains 43% ABV. The IWSC had this to say about the gold medal winner:
"Very attractive, complex nose. Great floral backing with loads of ripe fruit including peach, pear, apricot and hints of vanilla. Rich and full in the mouth with well rounded flavours following what the nose advertised. Great twist of smoke is there from start to finish. Rich, ripe malt with honey and spice, well managed oak. Well proportioned whiskey with long, satisfying finish. A great development in the world of whiskey."
Santis Malt Swiss Highlander Edition Alpstein Single Malt Whiskey 6 YO
This six year old Swiss whiskey won a gold medal at last year's IWSC. It contains 48% ABV and has a $45 price point. IWSC judges had this to say about the whiskey:
"Nose delivers a range of soft fruits with pear and greengage featuring. Then a mass of spices with a steady bonfire backing. Curious but pleasing rum and raisin note. Some pale malty notes with good grain. Some slight beery notes lead into big, full flavoured finish."
Seven Stars No 1 Dubhe Single Malt Whiskey
This $161 bottle of whisk hails from Sweden and uses American, French and Spanish oak casks to achieve its rich flavor. IWSC judges said this about the selection:
"Full nose with sugar, fruit and light caramel notes and some treacle touches. Light liquorice notes. All repeat in the mouth where some full flavoured malty characters come into play. Good balance and smooth and lively flow. Full powered finish giving indication of youth."
Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey
This Taiwanese whiskey packs a wallop with 58.2% ABV. Distilled in American ex-bourbon casks, it goes for $100 per bottle. Kavalan's rise to prominence illustrates Taiwan's ascension as one of the world's largest consumer's of liquor. IWSC judges had this to say about it:
"Big, impressive nose with loads of malt and honey. Sweet vanilla makes a big scene in the rear. Great entry into the mouth where fudge and butterscotch join all the nose indicated. Lively flow across the palate yet stands with elegance. Long, full finish."
Chapter 11 Single Malt Whiskey
This English whiskey hails from the British town of Norfolk and was distilled in 2008. This silver medal winner contains 46% alcohol by volume and runs for about $50 a bottle. IWSC judges had this to say about the whiskey:
"Nose beckons with a combination of youth and some mature notes. Great complexity and with some time in the glass a vast range of characters fill the nose and then all the taste buds on the palate. Lemon, lime, ginger and white pepper all pass in and out of the frame while intense dark sugar notes remain all the while along with fudge and butterscotch that give a sweet sensation. All step up with some delicate oaking. All bodes well for the future."