Here Comes The Good Stuff.

From A Spicy Ghost Pepper Infused Tequila To A Beautifully Aged Nicaraguan Rum, Check Out These Must-Try Spirits Of The Week.

Ghost Tequila

Tequila, Mexico
80 Proof (40% ABV), $28

Ghost was designed with bartenders in mind. This white tequila infuses the punch of ghost pepper without the residual pepper flavors, resulting in a “classic clean nose” and “buttery cooked agave notes on the palate.” The expected, “aggressive but not overwhelming” spice mingles with a natural sweetness and viscosity that has “all the makings of a killer spicy margarita or Bloody Maria.” The judges agreed that “whatever this is, I want a bottle.”

Knob Creek Bourbon

Clermont, Kentucky
Vitals: 90 Proof (45% ABV); $38

This traditional, well-aged bourbon is a mainstay in the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection. Knob Creek greets with a “lovely yellow-gold color” and aromas of vanilla cake icing and baking spices.” On the palate this bourbon is light and slightly effervescent,” showing a range of flavors ranging from “fruity and floral to vanilla and caramel,” “bound together by oaky spice throughout.” Overall it’s a “striking bourbon with beautiful balance between flavors from fermentation, distillation and aging.”

Chemist Spirits Navy Strength Gin

Asheville, North Carolina
Vitals: 114.2 Proof (57.1% ABV); $55

Clocking in at 114 proof, Chemist Spirits delivers a “remarkably smooth sip for such a bold, over-proofed gin.”  In addition to classic botanicals, drying vermouth as well as sweet orange and Thai ginger is added to round out the flavors in this unique botanical recipe. The result is a “bright and citrusy nose” with “classic juniper-forward flavors layered with fresh mint and a beautiful finish that “coats the tongue in a lovely, oily texture.”

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whiskey

Dufftown, Scotland
Vitals: 86 Proof (43% ABV); $39

“Tasty! Would happily sip this neat” was the general consensus of Monkey Shoulder, a flagship blended scotch whisky from the esteemed William Grant & Sons from Scotland. “Balanced and elegant with a hint of citrus, this whisky opens with “a rich fruit nose with hints of oak on the periphery.” On the palate, Monkey Shoulder showcases a juicy sweetness and a lovely, spice-forward finish. “Beautifully balanced, overall it’s a most welcome sip that “I’d like to settle in with over a couple of cubes or in a Penicillin cocktail.”

Flor de Caña 12 Year-Old

Chichigalpa, Nicaragua
80 Proof (40% ABV); $40

This “special” Nicaraguan rum is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for over a decade, yielding a  rich and decadent sipper that has a “silky vanilla nose” with all the “great dark rum notes on the palate such as “caramel, brown sugar and a sharp black licorice,” balanced with a “hint of dryness” and  a “luscious, buttercream finish.”  One judge noted that despite Flor de Caña’s advanced age, this rum is “surprisingly not oaky,” offering “kudos to its maker.”

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.