Marianne Eaves – Kentucky Bourbon’s First Female Master Distiller

Passionate about math and science as a child, Marianne Eaves didn’t have her sights set on becoming Kentucky’s first bourbon female Master Distiller. After high school, she and her mother opened a boutique consignment art shop; and while that didn’t last, it taught her a lot about entrepreneurism. After receiving a degree in chemical engineering, a field she was interested in due to its creative opportunities, she was able to choose where to take her internship – and she chose beverage giant Brown-Forman. Her hard work and enthusiastic demeanor landed her an immediate job offer after the internship ended, and her spirit of exploration and volunteering for every extra task and duty ended up sparking a true passion for whisky.

Brown-Forman recognized her skill set and passion and fast tracked her to a management position, eventually promoting her to assistant distiller under Chris Morris at Woodford Reserve. But Brown-Forman wasn’t the only one to recognize her talent, and Eaves was offered an opportunity to come onboard with a new distillery project, Castle and Key (taking over the Old Taylor Distillery). 

Renovating Castle and Key was a task from the ground up, and expanded Eaves’ horizons from whiskey to also include gin. Botany became another feather in her cap, as she worked with Master Gardener John Carloftis to create a private garden which provided botanicals for the gin. The distillery began producing spirits in 2016 and opened to visitors in 2017.


As can possibly be expected, Eaves is a woman who loves new challenges and experiences, and isn’t afraid of taking risks and new paths. In 2019 she announced she was leaving Castle and Key to pursue other personal goals, including setting up a consulting business. She has been recognized in various industry publications as “someone to watch”, as well as making several “Under 30” and “Under 40” lists due to her notable distillery work.

Published by juliamenn

Performer. Artist. Author. Lover of food and travel. Animal enthusiast. Avid reader. Globe-trotter.

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