Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at podcast@vinepair.com.

In this “Next Round,” VinePair CEO and co-founder Adam Teeter speaks with Eboni Major, whiskey blender at Bulleit Distilling Co. about how five years in the whiskey business has impacted her career — and what a whiskey blender does beyond smelling and tasting whiskey. Additionally, Major discusses the ways Covid-19 has impacted the demands of the job.

As a blender, Major explains, her role is to ensure that drinkers are satisfied with the flavor in each glass of Bulleit Bourbon. With Bulleit’s primary blending season is March through June, she faced some unique challenges at the start of the coronavirus crisis. While the distillery staff shifted to working from home, blending depends on a “scent-neutral” environment, meaning her palate can be impacted by outside odors and scents. This made home activities like cooking difficult, she says.

When it comes to new blends, Major works closely with product innovation and market research teams to create whiskeys that fit current category trends. Major’s latest blend and Bulleit’s newest limited-edition release, Bulleit Blenders Select, is currently available in 18 states. Over the next few years, Bulleit will continue to focus on innovation and sustainability, and making impactful decisions for the bourbon community following the coronavirus pandemic.

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