john barleycorn awards

The 2020 John Barleycorn Award winners finally revealed!

The John Barleycorn Society of Spirits Writers & Marketers released final results for the 2020 John Barleycorn Awards Taste and Marketing + Design competitions.

Via Official Press Release

The John Barleycorn Awards is a different kind of awards program which was created by writers and marketers to honor creative excellence in all aspects of the spirits industry – from formulating and distilling products – through innovative imaging, promotion, and sale of the products.

Each Taste entry was blind-tasted and scored on a 100-point scale for appearance, aroma, taste, and finish. Marketing entries were judged on creative excellence. Awards were determined based on points.

A complete list of winners and comments from judges can be found at


Major Award winners are as follows:

  • Large Distillery of the Year- Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill showcased an impressive portfolio of fine quality spirits that scored consistently high across many categories and price points. This consistency of excellence earned Heaven Hill the distinction of Large Distillery of the Year.

  • Small Distillery of the Year-New Riff

New Riff is among the new kids on the block in Kentucky and has impressed the whiskey-drinking world (and our judges) with an outstanding lineup of bourbons and ryes, four of which won our rare and coveted Double Gold award. This demonstration of excellence is why we named New Riff our Small Distiller of the Year.

  • Marketer of the Year- Hanna Lee Communications

The quality of Hanna Lee and her partner and husband Michael Anstendig’s award-winning campaigns, product launches, and events is more than enough to win them the title of Marketer of the Year. But we are also recognizing them for what they give back through their bartender scholarship program and industry promoting multi-media channels.


Best of Winners

The winners were determined by the highest scores and were not granted in all categories.

  • Best Bourbon-Four Roses Small Batch
  • Best Rye-New Riff Balboa Rye Whiskey
  • Best American Whiskey-Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey
  • Best American Single Malt-Courage and Conviction
  • Best World Whisky-Cotswold’s Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky
  • Best Rum-Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Run
  • Best Gin-Highclere Castle Gin
  • Best Vodka-Tommy Bahama Cucumber Vodka
  • Best Brandy-Oomrang Bartlett Pear Brandy
  • Best Ready to Drink Cocktail-Stubs Mule

The Taste judging was under the leadership of noted author and spirits writer John McCarthy who oversaw some of the world’s top spirits writers. Judges included spirits personality Fred Minnick, Leslie Sbrocco from NBC’s Today Show and PBS, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, the go-to spirits and wine expert for cable news shows, authors Wayne Curtis, Robin Robinson, and Frank Caifa, and well-known spirits and lifestyle writers Jack Robertiello, G. Clay Whittaker, Brad Japhe, Rachel DelRocco, and Tony Sachs.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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