Marianne Eaves is becoming a household name, even outside of whiskey enthusiast circles. She was hired as an intern at Brown-Forman in 2009, which took her all over the world to learn and practice distilling at Jack Daniel’s and more. She was promoted to Master Taster in 2014, which landed her a coveted spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for that year. The following year she left her coveted position to become Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller since Prohibition at Castle & Key Distillery in Millville, Kentucky. After four years she left to run away with the circus, quite literally. Now she’s a working itinerant mom, traveling with her partner, who owns a traveling circus. She consults with distilleries across the nation. And now she’s come up with the perfect holiday gift for the whiskey lover who has everything – in triplicate.
Eaves Blind is a blind tasting kit curated by Eaves herself, which includes samples she’s blended as well as the highly coveted black Glencairn glasses. The kit comes with a Zoom meeting in which Eaves will go through the samples with the lucky recipients, revealing the contents at the end of the 2021 after all four kits have been shipped. (It will be recorded for those who aren’t able to attend.)
I recently caught up with Marianne Eaves to learn more about the tasting kits.
MK: How did you come up with the idea of a blind tasting kit?
ME: The idea of a sampling program was really the initial thought that started me down the road of creating this membership based tasting kit. I wanted to make the mobile laboratory real, and to do that I thought the idea of bringing folks who are really interested in spirits and innovation along for the journey, tasting along the way, would be fun for all of us. The blind part came from my experience building my own palate while working for Brown-Forman, not only do you rarely know WHAT you’re drinking, but they also create an environment (using a red light) so that you also can’t SEE what you’re drinking either. It really is a totally unique experience of focusing on the experience your palate is having, even down to how far you tilt the glass to ensure you don’t take too big a sip!
MK: Who do you think will benefit from or enjoy this kit most? What do you hope they learn?
ME: I honestly believe there is something in this kit for everyone, from those who are just learning about bourbon to those who have been enjoying/selling/mixing/making bourbon for years and want the exclusive experience. One of the most unique aspects of this kit is that these blends are not something you can find on the shelf. They are presented only to the members of this program, curated specifically to teach them, with super high quality, tasty bourbon that I am hand blending. I hope that most of all EAVES BLIND members find that at the end of the program they have a deeper love for bourbon, and hopefully a new level of appreciation for their own ability to enjoy bourbon with more information having had these new experiences.
MK: This is a pretty unique gift only available until the end of the year. Do you think you will do this again in the future?
ME: I think there are lots of neat opportunities for this to grow, my first thought is other spirit categories and global spirits. I do believe it will be a recurring thing, but we’ll just see how year one goes! What I’ve committed to offering year one participants is a bargain, so there’s a good chance the program will either simplify or the price will go up! All part of my own learning process 🙂 Another nice perk of joining now, is that inaugural 2021 Eaves Blind members will have first dibs on signing up for future programs!
MK: I noticed you have different water samples, which I’ve never seen in a tasting before. Obviously water is pretty important but unappreciated. What do you hope folks learn with the different water samples?
ME: My big AHA moment when it comes to the use of water came from a beer class I was taking where all of these different Belgian beers used such specific and different qualities in the water they used in their process. I of course have always thought that our KY water is special, but as I continue to broaden my own education, each water source in KY also has its own unique qualities that influence what you taste in different ways. The most important learning with the water is proper dilution, and each water sample is paired with a specific single barrel to enhance its special properties.
MK: I love the Zoom lesson with you – it makes a lot of sense both because you move around so much and because of the pandemic. Is it going to be one on one or as a group?
ME: The video tasting included with the Aficionado kit will be one live group tasting that will be recorded, so those who cannot make the live tasting can still view at their convenience, and other members can watch again and again if they choose.
Learn more about the EAVES BLIND kit here.
Photos Courtesy of Marianne Eaves