Master Distiller Marianne Eaves has announced Forbidden, her latest endeavor and spirits’ release. Eaves began her distilling career as an intern with Brown-Forman where she eventually became the first Master Taster at Woodford Reserve Distillery. In 2015, she left Woodford for a startup Peristyle LLC that purchased the historic Old Taylor Distillery where after an extensive renovation became what we know today as Castle & Key Distillery. Eaves was instrumental in the early days of Castle & Key and the bourbon and rye whiskies that are now coming of age at that Kentucky distillery. In May 2019 she departed the startup saying, “I will spring forward to new ventures and platforms in the bourbon world and beyond.” And she’s been doing that ever since.
Her newest venture is Forbidden, a partnership formed with four South Carolina-based partners. The inaugural Forbidden release is a Kentucky Bourbon featuring a mash bill of white corn and white winter wheat. Eaves says Forbidden was inspired by Southern cooking and the culmination of nearly a decade of work to capture the essence of an elegant mature bourbon achieved by nontraditional low-temperature fermentation.
“Total creativity involves a certain degree of rebellion. To be completely creative, I tend to do things that are a little bit forbidden,” said Eaves, who has fully controlled the distillation, aging and bottling of Forbidden from grain to glass. “While creating Forbidden, I have had the freedom to cross deep into uncharted territory by using nontraditional ingredients and techniques. The resulting bourbon, on my palate, is perfection.”
What is Low Temperature Fermentation?
One of the things that makes this release unique is the use of low temperature fermentation during the distillation process. We reached out to Eaves to understand her interpretation of Low Temperature Fermentation.
DT: What is low temperature fermentation?
Marianne Eaves: “Very happy to describe this further! As you may, or may not be aware, yeast strains are classified and sold on their temperature and pH tolerance, most distilleries are looking only at the upper range, and most yeast suppliers are also constantly trying to optimize and increase the upper range of heat tolerance. This is because, especially in the summertime, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to control fermentation to a lower temperature, especially when the yeast is in its most active phases.
For some specific context, Brown-Forman, I found during my time there, setting their fermentation at 73° was highly uncommon and low, they also attempted to control the Apex heat of fermentation below 86°.
There are many distilleries, I would even venture to say most distilleries, that set their fermenters, this is referring to the temperature of the mash as it’s transferred from the cooker into the fermentation tank, where the yeast is added, at 80°. Once the yeast really start working, the temperature rises well above this into the 90s. When the yeast gets right to the heavy lifting of alcohol conversion so quickly it shortens the length of time it takes to convert the sugars and allows for quicker turnaround and therefore increases production output.
It’s experimentation that was done by Seagrams that I discovered in an old production training book that I was gifted by Dave Scheurich (formerly with Brown-Forman now with High Spirits Enterprise), and later confirmed in conversations with Master Distiller Jim Rutledge, where it is recommend a much lower setpoint temperature so that the yeast starts more slowly.
In this ramp up period, while the yeast is slowly adjusting to their new environment in a more delicate way, they produce a lot of interesting flavor congeners, that, as it turns out are not produced at higher temperature levels when they are under stress. We set our fermentation down in the mid to high 60s. This initial cooling is done partially in the cooking vessel, and then through a heat exchanger between the two vessels. Once in the fermentation vessel, cooling coils inside the tank are used to maintain the low temperature.”
Forbidden is a 3 Grain, Small Batch 5-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
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The first release of Forbidden is a small batch, hand-blended 5-year-old bourbon bottled at 95.2 proof. Forbidden’s mashbill is a blend of cuisine-quality white corn, white winter wheat and malted barley.
Tasting notes provided by Barnes say the mashbill gives it a sweet and smooth profile that is bold, beautifully balanced and complex. Darker notes balance Forbidden and originate from both charred barrels and fruity, floral yeast. The aroma leads with vanilla bean and crème brûlée, dried fruit, hazelnut, light sweet citrus notes and gentle layered spice. On the palate it delivers caramel, citrus oil and delicate floral along with baking spices, oak sugar, soft chewy sweet with a hint of grain. The finish lingers creamy sweetness with oak and spice.
“With Forbidden, we’ve taken our time to create something completely original in Kentucky bourbon,” said Daniel Rickenmann, who is one of the new brand’s four South Carolina-based partners along with Eaves in Kentucky. “Forbidden is a bourbon you finish and say, ‘This is my first drink and my last drink of the evening.’ It’s a symphony of flavor, complexity and warmth.”
Rickenmann adds about Eaves, “Marianne’s preoccupation with achieving such a high level of work means she doesn’t follow the usual script. For nearly two decades, Marianne has steadily stepped outside of the norm in her career and with her work to create Forbidden, she defies every expectation.”
In addition to his partnership in the Forbidden bourbon brand Daniel Rickenmann also serves as the Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina.
Eaves distilled, aged and bottled Forbidden at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky. It is bottled at 95.2 proof (47.6 ABV) and has a suggested retail price of $129. The first release will include a highly allocated number of hand-blended bottles along with three single barrel cask strength expressions. It will be available initially in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.
Learn more about Bardstown Bourbon Co.
Learn more about Castle & Key Distillery.
View all Kentucky Distilleries.
View all South Carolina Distilleries.
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