The Barleycorn Society has again spoken, and the results just might surprise you.

This Spring, hundreds of whiskey’s submitted their finest juice to be blind-tasted by the most influential spirit journalists and authors on the planet. Finally, the results are here, and we are proud to unveil Below the Barleycorn Society’s favorite whiskeys of Spring 2022. With category laders ranging from a regal single malt Scotch to true small batch craft Canadian, all of our judges picks are bottles worth checking out.

Best Bourbon

Pursuit United Batch 002

Cecil + Coleman Pursuit Spirits, LLC
108 Proof (54% ABV); $65

Bourbon Pursuit podcast founders Ryan Cecil and Kenny Coleman found a new passion in sourcing, blending, and bottling their favorite barrels of cask strength and unfiltered whiskey. Their efforts paid off as their Pursuit United Batch 002 took Best Bourbon in our Spring 2022 competition. Our judges found this combo of straight bourbons from New York, Tennessee, and Kentucky “flavorful and structured” with “nice, dark notes of coffee and cocoa aromas.” The complex palate of “vanilla, tea leaf, dark chocolate, blackberries, leather, oak, mint, and orange peel” is capped with a “long, satisfying finish.”

Learn more about Pursuit Spirits

Best Single Barrel Whiskey Bourbon/ Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

Jack Daniel’s Distillery

“This has to be Jack,’ one judge correctly declares during our Spring 2022 blind tasting competition before summing up why Single Barrel Select won its category this spring. “Banana cream pie, Waldorf salad, and caramel-drizzled vanilla ice cream on the nose. Lovely maturity on the palate, with dark fruits, cola syrup, subtle spice, and crème brûlée rolling into an oak-driven, dark chocolate-covered banana finish.”

Learn more about Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

Best Luxury Whiskey

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Spring 2022

Heaven Hill Distillery
100 proof (50% ABV); $45

The luxury whiskey category encompasses highly allocated products in high demand, and Old Fitz’s bottled-in-bond release is clearly both of those things. Aged an impressive 17-years and bottled at 100 proof, this “stunning specimen” of bourbon is worth hunting for as it delivers an “impressive structure and mouthfeel.” These strong bones are colored in with “sweet cherry and marzipan aromas, spicy compote, and more cherry flavors, and a finish reminiscent of Earl Grey tea and a slice of fruitcake.”

Learn more about Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Spring 2022

Best American Single Malt

The QuintEssential

Cedar Ridge Distillery; Swisher, Iowa
92 Proof (46% ABV); $70

We were thrilled to see many beautifully made American single malts medal in Barleycorn’s Spring 2022 Competition, but Cedar Ridge bested the category two years running with The QuintEssential. This Iowan-made malt whiskey is aged in oak barrels, finished in various finishing casks, blended, and rested in a toasted oak marrying tun for several months to arrive at the final expression. The result is a “fine dram and an excellent example of the American Single Malt category.” Judges appreciated this whiskey’s “soft texture overlaid on a delicate but distinct structure” and flavors of “red berries, rosewater, white chocolate, and gingersnap,” capped by a “spiced, dry finish, featuring elegant oak notes.”

Learn more about Cedar Ridge The QuintEssential

Best Rye Whiskey

BLACKENED X Willett Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Finished In Madeira Casks

Sweet Amber Distilling Co.
Mineville, New York
109.6 Proof (54.8% ABV); $199

To create the first Masters Of Whiskey Series release, BLACKENED master blender Rob Dietrich and Willet’s Drew Kulsveen married whiskeys born of both high and low rye recipes, then finished them in sweet Madeira Casks. During the 14-week finishing period, the whiskey was fed a steady diet of Metallica music played on low frequency, a technique developed to agitate the resting liquid, thus enhancing its interaction with the wood. But whatever they did to create this “complex and yummy” rye was worth the effort. Judges were enamored by this whiskey’s “swirl of light & dark fruit on the nose, which led to “rich and velvety dark berries and anise on the palate,” topped off by a long and rich finish featuring berries dipped in honey.”

Learn More about BLACKENED X Willett

Best Single Barrel Rye

291 Colorado Whiskey Finished with Aspen Staves, Barrel Proof Single Barrel

Distillery 291; Colorado Springs, Colorado
123.2 Proof (64.6% ABV); $75

Distillery 291 founder Michael Myers and his team continue to rack up top-level medals in blind competitions, and this spring’s Barleycorn Awards was no exception. 291 Colorado Whiskey was named Best Single Barrel Rye with this full-strength butt-kicker “from start to finish is everything I love about great whiskey.” Expect “balanced and complex” herbal aromas followed by myriad flavors like “mint, dried chiles, clay, barrel char, and tropical fruit.” Judges were impressed by the “sippability” here at such an aggressive proof but discovered the rye “tastes even better with a touch of water.”

Learn More about291 Colorado Whiskey

Best World Whiskey

Single Malts of India – Neidhal

Amrut; Karnataka, India
92 Proof (46% ABV); $100

Amrut launched the Single Malts of India brand in 2021 to showcase local malt whiskies by sourcing and bottling expressions from all corners of India. And thir first product out of the gate is a winner. This “light and smoky” Neidhal expression has a “big, robust nose to get the mouthwatering,” leading to “gentle smoke mingling with sweet honey and dark fruit flavors.” But most notably, judges concluded that this is a “perfect vehicle to introduce drinkers to peated single malts, but will also satisfy smoky whisky devotes.”

Learn More about Single Malts of India

Best Tennessee Whiskey

Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition Batch 009

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey; Shelbyville, Tennessee
124.4 Proof (62.2% ABV); $100

To create the Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition, master blender Victoria Eady Butler married cherry-picked barrels of the company’s finest Tennessee whiskeys. These limited batches are so tiny they are only available at their Shelbyville-based headquarters, and its a shame more people don’t have the chance to enjoy them. Batch 009 is a case-in-point, displaying a “cool and densely flavorful whiskey with tons of oak texture and big vanilla and cola notes.” Impressed with its “nice balance across the entire rubric,” one judge’s only complaint was that the finish of “sweet oak, banana skin, and fruit” eventually had to end.

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Best Canadian Whisky

Found North Batch 004

Found North Whisky; Canada
124.8 Proof (62.4% ABV); 145

Found North was launched by brothers Nick and Zach Taylor in 2020, who source well-aged spirits and blend them with the American bourbon drinker in mind. To create Batch 004, the Taylors combined 21 and 25-year-old corn whiskies with two styles of 18-year-old ryes aged in ex-bourbon barrels and Speyside scotch casks, respectively. The result is a “perfectly crafted” and “impressively full-bodied” barrel strength, non-chill-filtered whisky laden with aromas of “vanilla and cream soda,” plus “unctuous” flavors; like “cinnamon, raisin buns, and fruit” that “coats the mouth beautifully.”

Learn More about Found North

Best Scotch Whisky

Aberlour 18-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Aberlour Distillery
Moray, Scotland
86 Proof (43% ABV); $125

This “extremely balanced and well structured” double cask single malt by Aberlour was the top pick in the prestigious “Best Scotch Whisky” category, and when you check out the judge’s comments, it’s easy to see why. With “big and pungent dark fruits on the nose,” it’s clear from the beginning that “this whisky is not f***ing around.” On the palate, however, this bulldog rolls over for a belly rub with “delightful vanilla, toffee, and zesty orange” notes enveloped in “sweet, sugarcane and honey.” The boldness of the single malt returns on the “big, long, and gently tannic finish,” again reminding you “this is a serious dram.”

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Best Irish Whiskey

Waterford The CUVÉE

Waterford Distillery
Waterford, Ireland
100 Proof (50% ABV); $80

Waterford Distillery prides itself on working with local farms to make Irish whiskey that’s steeped in terroir through their Single Farm Origin Series. The next evolution is The Cuvée Series, features blends of these expressions. The third expression, simply called The CUVÉE, is a “beautiful” single malt whose “aroma transported me to a warehouse piled with whiskey, perhaps one with a few leaky barrels of the good stuff.” And this is good stuff indeed, popping with “brown sugar, molasses, and malt notes livened up with cracked pepper” and a “finish that makes my mouth ask when my hand is going to lift the glass up again.”

Learn mor about Waterford Whiskey

Best Flavored Whiskey

CoatTail Cinnamon Flavored Whiskey

The Old Nick Williams Co.
West Bend, North Carolina
85 Proof (42.5 ABV); $30

The Williams Family has made whiskey on their North Carolina land since the 19th century before succumbing to prohibition. But in 2014, brothers Van and John Williams and their sons decided to restore their family’s history to its former glory, thus launching The Old Nick Williams Distillery. The result is an impressive lineup of spirits, including this “cocktail darling,” a spicy cinnamon whiskey whose “natural” aromas “reminds me a bit of Christmas” and translates to “great ground cinnamon texture and taste on the palate that’s full of flavor and not overly sweet.”

Learn More About The Old Nick Williams Co.

Barleycorn Awards Spring 2022 Taste Competition


Spring 2022 Marketing Competition


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.