Eboni Major, credited as being the first Black female whiskey blender, parted ways with Bulleit Bourbon shortly after the release of her excellent Blenders’ Select expression—and not on good terms. She filed a lawsuit against parent company Diageo alleging racial discrimination last spring, accusations that the company denies (the suit has been moved to arbitration, Imbibe reports). But Major has not left the whiskey world behind, with news just arriving about her first post-Bulleit whiskey called the Dread River Master Series.
Dread River Distilling Co. is a Birmingham, Alabama distillery that produces its own spirits, including rum, vodka, gin and a flagship bourbon. It’s a relatively new operation, and Major brings a long background in food science and whiskey making to the distillery. In addition to Blenders’ Select, she was also responsible for the Bulleit Single Barrel program, blending Dickel Bottled in Bond in 2019 and has her own company called Major Spirits. The new Dread River Master Series is a blend of sourced Kentucky bourbon distilled in October 2017 and January 2019, bottled at 100 proof.
Major told Robb Report that she met the previous Dread River master distiller at a judging competition last spring and decided to pause on her other plans to work with the brand. “Dread River is located two blocks from where my grandmother lived her entire life,” she wrote in an email. “Besides that, I’d known this building my entire childhood—passing it every time I visited her. So it felt like it was meant to be… I had no idea what liquid I’d use initially. I was set on a rye at first, because I love rye. That didn’t work out, so I searched and searched I then found a handful barrels of Kentucky bourbon. The barrels I selected were distilled and aged in October 2017 and January 2019, and dumped in December 2022. This unique blend of three lots across six barrels yielded 1,500 bottles of Kentucky straight bourbon.”
This extremely limited release is available now to preorder for $115 from the Dread River website, and based on the reputation Major has built up in the whiskey world it won’t last long. The good news is it looks like this will be the first of many future whiskeys from this talented force in the industry.