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Bourbon Master Taster




Marianne Barnes, a 28-year-old former chemical engineer, is the master taster for Brown-Forman and Woodford Reserve. Her job involves making sure the product tastes top notch before it hits shelves.

A typical day at work includes drilling holes into bourbon barrels for direct sampling, conducting VIP tours of whiskey warehouses and slapping the gold star of approval on spirits ready to be bottled and sold.

Yes, it's a real job, and 28-year old Marianne Barnes has it. She is Brown-Forman's master taster of Kentucky whiskey and bourbon brands, which include Jack Daniel's, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve.

Think you have what it takes to be a master taster? It requires much more than just an affinity for the brown water. Barnes has a degree in chemical engineering and takes a decidedly scientific approach to her job. She is expected to recognize all the nuances of Brown-Forman's brands, be able to identify the precise proofs coming out of the barrel as well as detect any defects. The taster treats her palate like a sophisticated laboratory tool: Barnes is prohibited from smoking, can't wear perfume when working and regularly performs saline rinses. There are more than 200 flavor chemicals in bourbon, and she must be able to distinguish them all.

Read the full Bloomberg article

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