Are you missing out on the brandy scene? You might be alone.

Providing an endless parade of surprising styles and flavors, brandy sold over 16 million cases in 2020. Here are some Barleycorn Society favorites from the United States and Canada.

Christian Brothers Sacred Bond

Bardstown, Kentucky
100 Proof (50 ABV); $25

“If you told me this was cognac, I wouldn’t doubt it for a second.” Distilled in California and aged at Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Sacred Bond from Christian Brothers is a bottled-in-bond grape brandy made in copper pot-stills and matured four years in ex-bourbon barrels. Look for “apricot and wood aromas” on the nose, leading to “lovely, buttery layers of caramel sweetness” on the palate.” The finish is “dry with a refined oak character,” and overall, a “great brandy.”

Ironworks Distillery Canadian Apple Brandy

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
80 Proof (40 ABV); $35

All year long, Ironworks proprietors Pierre Guevremont and Lynne MacKay ferment fruit and molasses to create their portfolio of rum, brandy, and vodka. This “delightful” apple brandy is distilled from locally grown Annapolis Valley apples and aged in medium toasted Hungarian Oak. Expect a “fruitiness with a touch of cinnamon” on the nose with “soft oak and vanilla” notes on the palate, concluding with a “lingering burnt caramel apple finish.”

Öömrang Bartlett Pear Brandy

Stanwood, Washington
80 Proof (40% ABV); $50 (.375)

Located in the thick of Washington’s wine country is Öömrang, a boutique winery and distillery specializing in German white wine varietals and unaged fruit brandy, or eaux de vie. This brandy’s “Lovely aroma” is like “opening a box of fresh pears on the cusp of over-ripeness.” “Clean and elegant on the entry,” Öömrang’s Bartlett Pear “pops with pear and apple,” then “continues to open up and evolve across the mid-palate into a “dancing and ethereal finish that showcases a remarkable essence of ripe pear.”

Royal Hawaii Spirit’s Ulukila Polynesian Breadfruit Brandy

Oahu, Hawaii
80 Proof (40% ABV); $99

This Ulukila Breadfruit Brandy is “unique and unusual.” But what else might you expect from a distiller named Uncle Karl, the self-proclaimed “Willy Wonka of alcohol.” Cooked breadfruit tastes similar to potatoes when cooked. But as a brandy, expect a “round and fruity nose that smells like grape and apple danish” and “apple dough on the palate with a mouth-filling viscosity that stays “light and fresh from entry to this brandy’s medium-long finish.” “Super interesting and unique,” this offbeat brandy from Hawaii is a “wonderful and unique experience.”

Lancaster Distilleries Paw Paw Brandy

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
80 Proof (40% ABV)

Native to the eastern United States and Canada, paw paw fruit has a sweet, almost tropical flavor evident in this “exotic and rewarding” brandy. The “intriguing nose” made one judge “want to try paw paw in a bowl of berries.” Expect a “clean but complex and citrusy aroma” with a background of “darker notes of candied orange peel.” Entry is clean and sweet on the mid-palate that’s best described as a “combination of tart and sweet and slightly funky.” Everyone agreed that this “natural cocktail darling” is “delicious and dessert-worthy.”

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.