FOOD & WINE named its 2022 Drinks Innovators of the Year, recognizing eight spirits, beer, and wine producers making groundbreaking changes in their respective industries. Barleycorn Society member Jackie Summers earned a spot on this exclusive list.

After more than a decade long struggle to reinvent himself by transitioning from a career in magazine production to a liqueur brand owner, The James Beard Foundation writer and advocate Jackie Summers is finally realizing his dream. Today, with ample funding for Sorel, a hibiscus-based Jamaican beverage based on a classic drink grew up with, he is already looking forward to giving back.

“My job now is to look down and see who else needs a hand,” quotes Summers in Food & Wine. “How do we take people who have been systemically cut off from the actual benefits of their labor and their intelligence and their creativity and give them the resources to succeed? If we’re talking about my long-term goal, then that’s it.”

Also making the list is Barleycorn Award Winning Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver and master blender Victoria Eady Butler.

Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver and master blender Victoria Eady Butler are carving out an ever-growing space for Black female voices in the whiskey world.

From Gabrielle Nicole Pharms in Food & Wine
In the 1850s, an enslaved man, Nathan “Nearest” Green, was the one who taught a young Jack Daniel how to distill Tennessee whiskey. Once the Civil War was over, Daniel then hired Green, now a free man, to be his first head distiller. But that story—Nathan Green’s story — remained largely unrecognized for over a century. That was until 2017, when Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey debuted. Created by CEO Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest highlights Nearest Green’s legacy one bottle at a time. “When you’re an African American or a woman who has figured out a pathway to success within an industry that’s historically been reserved for white males, it becomes your responsibility to pull as you climb. At least, that’s how I look at it,” Weaver said in the article.

Spirits writers, marketers and designers are among the most influential forces in the spirits industry. Their opinions, ideas and creative talents inform and influence consumer perceptions and buying decisions. The John Barleycorn Society was started by a group of spirits journalists seeking to honor excellence in all facets of the industry. The journalists spent several years creating a comprehensive competition that became the John Barleycorn Awards. An elite team of authoritative and influential spirits journalists was selected to administer the flagship component of the Awards, a blind tasting competition destined to become the preeminent arbitrator of spirits taste, quality and character.