Editor’s Note: The party behind this whiskey gave us a review sample. Per our editorial policies, this in no way influenced the outcome of this review.
Dread River Distilling, based in Birmingham, Alabama, has sought to put itself at the forefront of the distillery scene in its home state since its inception in 2019. An award-winning operation that distilled the first bourbon in Birmingham in over 100 years, one of its most recent releases, and the one I’m reviewing here today, was crafted in part by a veteran turned assistant distiller.
United States Air Force Master Sergeant Trey Bruner, a 20-year USAF Combat Controller veteran, transitioned from military service to civilian work via the Department of Defense’s Skill Bridge program, which connects transitioning service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences. He started learning the ropes of distillery life under the mentorship of Dread River head distiller Joshua Goins, who tasked him with barrel maturation management.
During the process of pulling samples for analysis, Bruner encountered what he felt was “a truly unique bourbon aging in a 60-gallon French oak cask.” He selected this single-cask bourbon to be the next Master Series, a particular line extension in Dread River’s growing portfolio of whiskeys.
For Dread River Master Series Batch 2 Veteran’s Edition Bourbon, the distillery transferred its flagship straight bourbon initially aged in American oak casks for one year into a 60-gallon French oak cask for an additional two years. Distilled from a mash bill of 60 percent corn, 30 percent wheat, and 10 percent malted barley, it was hand-bottled at cask strength, 106 proof, or 53% alcohol by volume.
This bourbon, which was offered last year on Veteran’s Day, is $106.99. Only 500 bottles were released.