Review: Why They Call This New Bourbon “Forbidden”

A unique mashbill and fermentation technique brings out new flavors

June 9, 2023 8:52 am
A bottle of Forbidden bourbon on its side
A cheeky name, sure, but the mashbill and origin story are interesting

What we’re drinking: Forbidden, which is touted as “the spirits industry’s first white corn and white winter wheat expression of bold Kentucky bourbon.”

Where it’s from: The new South Carolina-based bourbon brand is working with distiller Marianne Eaves, who’s doing some interesting stuff across the whiskey industry (see below).

Why we’re drinking this: We’re a big fan of everything Eaves has worked on. As Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller, her previous and current projects include Castle & Key, Sweetens Cove and Eaves Blind.

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Here, Eaves is experimenting with an unusual mashbill and a rarely attempted fermentation process. “The team at Forbidden was interested in using some unique grains — white corn and white wheat specifically,” Eaves tells InsideHook. “And I was given the freedom to specify exactly what kind and how much of each of those ingredients. So I came up with a unique recipe that I don’t believe has ever been released on the market before.”

Besides the mashbill, Eaves also experimented with low-temperature fermentation, another rarity in the whiskey world. “Intentional low-temperature fermentation requires a lot more energy because you’re constantly sending cooling water,” she says. “It slows down the process, but it also allows for different flavors to be created. The yeast just acts a lot different when everything is ramping up in that cold initial setting.”

Let’s dive in. 

Forbidden distiller Marianne Eaves behind a bar holding a glass and a bottle of Forbidden bourbon
Forbidden Master Distiller Marianne Eaves

How it tastes: Forbidden is a small batch, hand-blended 5-year-old bourbon bottled at 95.2 proof. It’s distilled, aged and bottled at Bardstown Bourbon Company.

There’s a lot of creme brulee here, along with some underlying citrus peel and a bit of char and oak on the finish. Eaves told me that her friend referred to Forbidden as something akin to a “confectionery donut, really sweet and bready,” and there is a bit of an elevated Cinnabon in a Glencairn taste and texture to this. Delicious and approachable.

Fun fact: So, why is it called Forbidden? While the name was already set when Eaves joined, she’s a fan…and it’s not just about utilizing nontraditional ingredients and techniques. It also reflects Eaves’s role in the whiskey industry. “If you think about it, by the laws of Kentucky, I wouldn’t have been able to be a master distiller years ago,” she says. “Women were prohibited from doing any production labor until 1974 or so. It would have been legally forbidden for me to do then what I’m doing now.” (Eaves also notes that as a female master distiller, she has an advantage: “Females have a more sensitive palate, a more sensitive sense of taste.”)

Where to buy: Forbidden will be available initially in these states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, and also online at an SRP of $129. The first release will include an allocated number of hand-blended bottles along with three single-barrel cask strength expressions.


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