Born in Tennessee and raised in Kentucky, geography alone may have been telling Marianne Eaves that her destiny was to be a whiskey maker. However, it was courage to buck tradition, her creative engineering mind and a voracious appetite for learning that actualized her place in history as Kentucky’s First Female Bourbon Master Distiller since Prohibition. 

After a fast and early failure in art consignment, Eaves decided to follow her long love of math and science and pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville. Little did she realize that she would find herself in a history-making position in which the creative and the scientific would come together.  A fortuitous confluence of circumstances – her love of science, analytic mind, exceptional sensory skills, creativity, and a fateful internship choice with Brown-Forman – led to her being the first woman to earn the title of Master Distiller with Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort.

Eaves has been recognized in Whiskey Advocate Magazine as “the Next Generation” for the bourbon industry, and has been honored by Forbes and included in the 2015 Food & Drink 30 under 30 list. As she stepped into the role of Master Distiller herself, taking on the herculean restoration project of Castle & Key Distillery, she was recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as one of America’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers.

Her combination of technical knowledge, hands-on experience, specialized palate and focus on thoughtful innovation are a unique formula for her role as Master Distiller. Praise for her recipes come from hobbyist consumers and spirits aficionados alike — her vodka and gin confuses and excites the palette with honest balance and nuanced complexity. The fortunate few who have tasted barrels that are resting at Castle & Key Distillery agree that the future is bright for Eaves and her creations.

As she transitions into her new role as a consultant and ambassador for Kentucky’s finest spirit, Eaves is well poised as a leader of the new generation of spirits professionals that will shape the industry. She hopes to use her expertise in process and product development to raise the bar for craft producers and help other passionate makers turn dreams into a reality. She is excited to teach the ways of authentic Kentucky made Bourbon to producers across the US.

Eaves role in changing the dynamic in this predominantly male industry is clear. She is proud to be a leader and a face for the movement and rise of women in spirits.