From Aukland to Speyside and beyond,

innovation is on display as Barleycorn explores the world’s first black gin, an Islay single malt influenced tequila, and a bourbon made with Red Turkey wheat. Meanwhile, the great whiskey hunt is in progress for coveted bottles of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, Booker’s unveils its last expression of 2021, and Balvenie drops its latest super-luxury Tun series single malt.

Photo by Gabi Porter

A Smoky Tequila Treat With El Tesoro Mundial Collection: The Laphroaig Edition

80 Proof (40% ABV); $125

Ever wonder what may happen if you finish a beautiful reposado tequila in a peated single malt cask? In the right hands, magic. For this first release of the El Tesoro Mundial Collection, master distiller Carlos Camarena crafted The Laphroaig Edition by aging a nine-month-old single barrel tequila an additional four months in a smoky Laphroaig 10-Year-Old barrel. What’s in the bottle is a subtle, integrated, and well-balanced anejo loaded with fruit, vanilla, and forward but not overpowering peat smoke.
Photo courtesy of Booker's Bourbon

Today In Alliterative Whiskey: Bookers Bourbon “Bardstown” Batch

Vitals: 125.5 Proof (62.75% ABV); $90

Late Jim Beam master distiller Booker Noe, for whom Booker’s Bourbon is named, loved to tell a good story. And every release of this uncut and unfiltered namesake bourbon comes with one. “Bardstown Batch” is the third and last 2021 release, entering the bottle after six years and five months of aging and clocking in at 125.5 proof. As for the story, this expression is dedicated to Bardstown, Kentucky, where Booker entertained the community and raised his family. Seventh Generation Beam distiller Fred Noe lives in the same home today.
Photo courtesy of New Riff

Taste A New Riff On  Innovation with This Red Turkey Wheat Bourbon

Vitals: 100 Proof (50% ABV); $50

New Riff’s latest Limited release is an innovative wheated bourbon distilled with Ohio grown Red Turkey wheat. The heirloom grain was sourced with Cincinnati’s Blue Oven Bakery, based just across the river from New Riff’s Newport Kentucky distillery. This limited-run bourbon comprises 70% corn, 25% wheat, 5% malted barley, aged at least 5 years, and bottled-in-bond at 100 proof. Before you get too thirsty, you will only find this special bottling in Kentucky, so ask your Blue Grass friends to keep an eye out.
Photo courtesy of Scapegrace

New Zealand’s Scapegrace introduces the World's First “Black Gin” To The United States

86 Proof (43% ABV); $45

Coming to you from Aukland, New Zealand, Scapegrace has concocted the world’s first “black” gin. To come up with the deep-hued spirit, Scapegrace distiller Anthony Lawry employed a combination of local sweet potato, Aronia berries, pineapple, saffron, and butterfly pea flower in addition to classic botanicals like juniper and coriander. While the company is most proud of Scapegrace Black’s flavor, not its dark hue, we can’t help making cocktails just to watch the color change.
Photo courtesy of The Balvenie

Balvenie Introduces A Single Malt Swan Song For Tun 1509

Vitals: 104.4 Proof (52.2% ABV); $410

Balvenie master David Stewart married his eighth and final “Tun Series” single malt bottling in vessel 1509 to present this 2021 annual limited expression. This year’s 18-cask bottling comprises stocks matured in sherry butts, puncheons, and ex-bourbon barrels. These whiskies’ are then blended and aged three months in tun 1509, a large marrying vessel intended to mingle the whisky without imparting minimal additional flavor. Served non-chill filtered and bottled north of 100 proof, this bold Speyside single malt is a serious whisky that’s lusted after by well-heeled imbibers and collectors alike.
Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace

The Bourbon Hunt Is On For (Most of) Buffalo Trace’s 2021 Antique Collection

Vitals: William Larue Weller: 125.3 proof (62.65% ABV); $99; Eagle Rare 17 Year Old: 101 Proof (50.5% ABV), $99; Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye: 129.5 proof (64.75% ABV), $99; Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old: 90 Proof (45% ABV), $99

The whiskey geekdom was abuzz last month when the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection was released sans George T Stagg, their 15-year-old bourbon. Despite the absence of Stagg, which the company says wasn’t up to snuff this year, the annual whiskey hunt for reasonably priced bottles of BTAC is in full swing. William Larue Weller, Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, and Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old are certainly among the most lusted after American whiskeys this time of year. But only a handful of lucky fans will manage to score bottles at the $99 MSRP.

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.