Back in 2019, we had the chance to speak with Eboni Major, who at the time was the Whiskey Blender at Bulleit, which falls under the corporate umbrella of spirits giant Diageo. In 2020, Major left Diageo and pursued a racial discrimination lawsuit against her former company (though her attorney voluntarily dismissed that suit in July of last year, a Diageo rep tells us). Now, Major — who was the first Black blender at a major distiller, according to the New York Times – has struck out on her own, releasing her first bourbon since leaving Bulleit.
Major's new bourbon comes from the independent upstart distillery Dread River, and it marks the first entry in their new Master Series. Dead River, which is based in Major's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, has not limited itself to a single spirit, but instead churns out bourbon, gin, rum, vodka and tequila-like "blue agave spirit." But by collaborating with one of the whiskey world's rising stars in Major, the young distillery is making its biggest splash yet.
Dread River Master Series by Eboni Major is a blend of 2017 and 2019 bourbons with notes of cherry, apples, oak and light vanilla to go along with a smooth finish accompanied with hints of spice and warmth. It's bottled at 100 proof, and is intended by Major to be a "smooth and spicy ode to her hometown." And while it was first announced on December 1, it has just recently become available to preorder online through both Dread River's and Major's websites.
Major's linking up with Dread River is the latest example we've seen of whiskey blenders making a name for themselves outside of big distilleries. Last year in Gear Patrol Magazine, we profiled another superstar blender who also happens to be a woman, Jackie Zykan, who left her plum job as Master Blender at Old Forester to start her own venture, Kentucky-based Hidden Barn Whiskey. (You can read that profile here.)
Presumably, Dread River's Master Series will continue with other bottles crafted by different blenders. But if you'd like to get started with Eboni Major's effort, you should get those preorders in now, as the supply is very limited.