Marianne Barnes, Master Distiller


As Fred Minnick reported on 21 February 2015, Marianne Barnes will become the master distiller at the new distillery once known as Old Taylor.

Barnes, 28, was formerly the "master taster" at Brown-Forman and assisted with Old Forester "craft" reboot.

She has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisvilleā€™s J.B. Speed School of Engineering, and has worked since 2012 as a "production intern" and "master taster" at Brown-Forman alongside master distiller, Chris Morris.

Her primary responsibility at Brown-Forman has been maintaining the Woodford Reserve Brand, and I've had a few bottles of Woodford since then. It's all good.

What Fred Minnick did not mention in his 21 FEB post is what he did mention in a September 2014 post - not everyone would agree Ms. Barnes is yet a "master." 

While it sounds as though she has quite the refined palate, there is a historical significance to the term "master distiller."  As one commenter on Fred's blog noted, "Eddie Russell was just recently named master distiller at Wild Turkey after 34 years working with his dad, Jimmy. While Eddie would have qualified years if not decades ago, the company showed great respect for the title by waiting to apply it until it mattered to all involved."

The debate has, and always will, rage until some competent authority defines the title. And we're not sure that's necessary. Plus, Marianne is much prettier than Eddie Russell. She can call herself whatever she wants.