Why You Need to Try Black Whiskey

by   |  12.07.2022

Black Whiskey from the Don Michael Distillery in Peru is not only exceptional, but also one of a kind. This award-winning bourbon style whiskey is made with unique Peruvian Black Corn. No one else in the industry is making a whiskey quite like this! The use of black corn lends a unique flavor and creates a special expression. Their Single Barrel Whiskey received a Double Gold and then Best in Show Whiskey once it moved on to the Sweepstakes round of our New York World Wine & Spirits Competition this past fall.

This came as a surprise since at the time of the competition, the Don Michael Distillery was fairly unknown. They are only a few years old and situated just south of Lima, Peru in the small town of Lurin! The beauty of blind tasting is that judges are awarding medals based on true craftsmanship. No labels, no visuals, they are judging the liquid in their glasses. It is always special when newer brands take home the Best in Show award, some distillers just have the magic touch from early on.

Let’s get into the Black Whiskey’s origin story. Seven years ago, Michael Kuryla and his Wife Daiana Paola Milon Mayer spearheaded this endeavor while they were living in the Peruvian Jungle. They were running a construction company in Oxapampa when Michael decided to pursue this dream of using Andean corn to make whiskey. “Even after the first few months, my wife and I had no idea where this was headed. Eventually after about 8 months of trial and error and making terrible moonshine our juice started improving dramatically. I attribute that to our learning curve and the acquisition of new white oak barrels from the USA and imported malted grains. We ended up settling on a mash bill of 60% Andean Black Corn, 30% malted wheat, and 10% malted barley. Definitely a bourbon style whiskey. It took another 5 months to write a business plan, nail down funding and eventually move to Lima to begin building our distillery.”

This dynamic duo is an inspiration for smaller brands everywhere. Currently, Daiana Paola, Master Sommelier, heads quality control and holds the very important role of Barrel Selector. Michael is the Head Distiller, face of the brand, sales, and marketing.

Andean Black corn is a Peruvian staple. According to Michael, locals use it in the iconic national drink Chicha Morada and in many dishes including Mazamorra Morada. This variety of dark corn is also known for its anti-inflammatory, nutrients, and antioxidant benefits. Choosing Andean Black Corn was the natural next step for Michael since his vision was to make whiskey from a unique grain. Andean Black Corn will soon have its own denomination of origin (DO).

Here’s a fun fact, Michael and Daiana Paola initiated the name and creation of the Andean Whiskey category which is now recognized by the Peruvian Government. Andean Whiskey must be made in Peru and made from at least 51% Andean corn, the remaining rules are the same as those for bourbons in the US, including aging in new charred oak barrels.

When we asked Michael about how he felt about Black Whiskey’s latest award and achievement he said, “I had no idea we won best in show or best in class! About a week later a friend from the US calls congratulating me, saying good job, worlds best whiskey, Forbes magazine etc. I thought he was pulling my leg, to the point where I got online and searched for Black Whiskey NYWSCOMP and low and behold there it was. I was shocked…speechless, and obviously very happy and excited for our whole team. After six years of hard work this was the culmination of achievements for us. It has been great for us; we might even hit 10,000 cases this year!”

Daiana Paola was similarly surprised by the news, “It is a source of great pride not only for us as a company, but particularly because it validates my short experience in the world of whiskey. It’s a bit nerve wracking being the only one responsible for barrel selection! We have raised the bar this year and have big expectations to continue to amaze whiskey drinkers around the world.”

The Don Michael Distillery is known as the premier Andean Distillery and has a portfolio that keeps on growing. They have recently released their Andean Gin and announced the upcoming release of their Oxapampa Honey Liqueur. According to Michael, the best kind of spirit, is one he would enjoy drinking. They don’t cut any corners in the distillation process and do everything by the book. His one way he likes to enjoy Black Whiskey is with sprite! Check out his ratios below, we decided to name it the Kuryla Cocktail!

Kuryla Cocktail:

  • 4 oz Black Whiskey
  • 2 oz Sprite
  • cherry garnish

Circling back to the Best in Show Single Barrel Black Whiskey, this bottle was highly revered amongst our NYWSC judges. One of our Judges, Zach Johnston gave notes on the Single Barrel Whiskey, “Earthy and dark corn comes through on the nose…The palate leans into the earthiness with a hint of burnt cinnamon bark next to old vanilla pods, hard raisins, dried figs, and cornmeal mixed with sweet black potting soil and wrapped in a rum-raisin tobacco leaf.” Yum!

In summary, try Black Whiskey because:

  • It is the ONLY whiskey made using heirloom Peruvian Black Corn
  • It won a Double Gold medal and Best in Show Whiskey at the 2022 NYWSC
  • It is a family business that started in the middle of the Peruvian jungle
  • Michael and Daiana Paola are passionate about their product and are innovators in the industry
  • It is unlike any other whiskey you have tried
  • It stands on its own and is fantastic in a cocktail