John Barleycorn Society

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 double-blind tasting competition destined to become the preeminent arbitrator of spirits taste, quality and character.


Who is John Barleycorn?


Since the first distiller started experimenting with various grains and techniques, many a would-be artisan has searched for the elusive combination that would produce a spirit hailed for its perfect taste and flawless presentation. For half a century, this quest has been illuminated in poems, stories and lyrics penned by the likes of Robert Burns, Jack London and Steve Winwood. Their protagonist, John Barleycorn, is a metaphor for the indignation, suffering, death and rebirth in the cyclical nature of planting, growing, harvesting and distillation. John Barleycorn has been revered for centuries. But he has never seen anything like what is happening now. A new generation of marketing is igniting demand for historic brands, varieties, new flavors, craft cocktails and small distilleries that are popping up throughout the world. John Barleycorn has emerged from the fields and taverns to a worldwide economic catalyst providing millions of jobs and billions of dollars in annual economic activity.

"John Barleycorn's inhibition rises like a wall betweenone's immediate desires and long-learned morality."


Jack London