Cue “One Shining Moment,” because the tournament is officially over.
No, I’m not just talking about the NCAA Tournament, where Kansas beat UNC in an epic comeback to take home the title (sorry Eric Church).
It’s also time to crown our Whiskey Riff Madness 2022 champion.
But first let’s take a quick look at how we got here.
We started with 64 of the absolute best country albums from 2010 to present. We broke down the bracket into four (very loosely-defined) “regions” – Mainstream, Texas/Red Dirt, Appalachia, and “Indie.” And then we let you, the readers, vote for your favorites.
We had some close matchups, some blowouts – and every single round of the tournament had more votes cast than the previous round as people rallied behind their favorite albums.
And ultimately it came down to two finalists.
The first was Firewater from Whiskey Myers, which defeated Koe Wetzel’s Noise Complaint in the first round and Josh Abbott’s She’s Like Texas to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. It then pulled off a huge upset, knocking off Diamonds and Gasoline by Turnpike Troubadours before clinching the Texas region by taking out Cody Jinks’ Adobe Sessions in the Elite Eight.
Then in the Final Four, Firewater knocked off Eric Church’s Chief by a huge margin, making it arguably the favorite heading into the championship round.
On the other side of the bracket, Tyler Childers‘ Purgatory rolled through the first three rounds, knocking off Sundy Best’s Salvation City, Cole Chaney’s Mercy and Wheeler Walker Jr.’s Redneck Shit before going head to head with Chris Stapleton’s Traveller.
But Childers just kept winning, and not only managed to win the Appalachia region by beating Traveller but also took out Zach Bryan’s DeAnn to make it to the championship.
So those were the finalists, but which album did you choose as the Whiskey Riff Madness 2022 Champion?
After 63 matchups and hundreds of thousands of votes cast, the winner is…
Firewater – Whiskey Myers
That’s right, Firewater completed its absolutely dominating run by absolutely destroying Purgatory, racking up 87% of the vote in the championship round. And it was never really close.
And defeating the likes of Koe Wetzel, Josh Abbott, Turnpike, Cody Jinks, Eric Church and Tyler Childers? I can’t imagine a more difficult path to victory, but the Whiskey Myers fans really showed up for this one, and we saw it in the results round after round as they kept getting more and more votes each time.
We had a ton of fun with this one, got some great interaction all over social media, and heard from some very passionate fans of all of the 64 albums. And let’s be honest, no matter who won, you really couldn’t go wrong with any of them.
But shoutout to all the Whiskey Myers fans out there, because that was quite the impressive run against some pretty tough matchups. Y’all made yourselves heard in a big way.
The Final Bracket:
Now if you’ll excuse me, I know what I’m going to have on repeat today.