Chelsea distillery wins national awards for s'more-flavored bourbon

Chelsea's Ugly Dog Distillery was recently awarded both a Double Gold medal and a Best in Class award for its S'Mores Kentucky Bourbon at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC).

The award-winning bourbon features flavors of chocolate, vanilla, graham crackers, and smoky campfire. Rick Wyble, Ugly Dog's head distiller, says that while he always enters competitions hoping to win, winning Best of Class is "certainly a shock and a surprise" and the distillery is "extremely grateful."

He explains that in order to win a Double Gold medal at the SFWSC, every judge must unanimously award a product a gold medal. From that small pool of double gold winners, the judges then go on to select the best in a category. S'mores Kentucky Bourbon won best in the flavored whiskey class.

Reflecting on what won over the competition's judges, Wyble says distillery staff went through many prototypes until they found a winner they knew could be proud of. The product's creation was spearheaded by Ugly Dog's CEO, David Salmon. Wyble says that when Salmon's research into flavored spirits uncovered "a hole in the s'mores flavor area," he and his team decided "to give it their best shot." 

"What set us apart is that we created a really balanced bourbon where all the flavors are in harmony with each other," Wyble says. "What also came through is that we use high-quality natural ingredients, such as organic cane sugar, and arguably some of the best straight Kentucky bourbon as a base." 

Wyble says endorsement from the prestigious SFWSC is significant for Ugly Dog's future. Ugly Dog products are currently available in 20 states and Canada. The new bragging rights will help the distillery get a foothold in other markets and countries. 

"In my opinion, the recognition is equivalent to being awarded the Wine of the Year award from Wine Spectator or Motor Trend's Car of the Year," he says. "This award is huge for us and we are going to use it as a launching pad to expand."

Wyble and the Ugly Dog Distillery team have been enjoying seeing the reactions of visitors who come to their tasting room to try a sample of the S'Mores Bourbon and the distillery's other spirits. 

"Come in and see where we make everything happen,'' Wyble says. "We have a winner and we are really excited to share it with everyone."

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

Photo courtesy of Ugly Dog Distillery.
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