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.
Cape Fear Distillery owner Alex Munroe and distiller Rick Neisler are pictured with awards for the company’s Maritime Gin. Contributed photo.
The prestigious John Barleycorn Awards honors the innovative distillers and marketers who cultivate the fertile traditions of the spirits industry. The John Barleycorn Awards team is comprised of elite authoritative and influential spirits journalists and judges who were 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.
This year, the John Barleycorn Awards presented a Gold Medal for Taste and a Silver Medal for Design to Maritime Gin, produced by Cape Fear Distillery of Elizabethtown. Cape Fear’s owner, Alex Munroe, and distiller, Rick Neisler, are from Whiteville.
Earlier in the year, Cape Fear Distillery won Double Gold and Bronze national recognition from the Food and Beverage Proof Awards.
“We entered our Maritime Gin into the competitions at the first of the year when we were just getting into distribution, so we really didn’t know how the market was going to react,” said Munroe. “But soon enough, many ABC stores began to double and triple their orders. Obviously, the market likes our gin. The Proof Awards and John Barleycorn Awards validate what our customers are telling us: that we’ve produced a world-class gin!”