Dread River Master Series Batch 2 – Veteran’s Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Today is Veterans Day. Originally referred to as Armistice Day, it was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge and declared that every November 11th would be set aside to honor those who served and died in World War I. In 1945, Robert Weeks, a World War II veteran from Alabama, began his mission to change Armistice Day to honor all veterans, living or dead. He led a delegation that met with General Dwight D. Eisenhower to push the idea through. Eisenhower agreed, and in 1954, when he was president, he signed into law the congressional amendment changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.


Let’s stick with Weeks’ home state of Alabama because that’s where today’s whiskey originates. It is called Dread River Master Series Batch 2 – Veteran’s Edition and is distilled by Dread River Distilling Company of Birmingham.


The distillery is the brainchild of Dr. Jeff Dugan and John Cubelic. In 2017, they imagined a small craft distillery. After jumping through all the legal hoops, Dread River became a reality in August 2019. It was the first working distilling in Birmingham in over 100 years. Just as the wheels of progress got going, COVID-19 hit, and production switched from distilling whiskey to making hand sanitizer. Once the sanitizer was no longer needed, it resumed distilling whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, and agave spirits.   


“Dread River symbolizes the chasm between us and where we wanted to go, the relentless torrent of issues and roadblocks, and the frigid fear of failure. In making this distillery a reality, we realized that overcoming our fears isn’t just something we did; it’s who we are. For us, DREAD is not a paralytic. It’s an inspiration, a challenge just waiting to be accepted. Our goal is to inspire our friends to face their fears with us.” – Dread River Distilling Company


This Veteran’s Edition Bourbon is a double-barrel whiskey, which was initially aged in one barrel and then transferred to another for continued maturation. It was put together by U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Master Sergeant Trey Bruner, a 20-year veteran with eight combat deployments, who hand-selected the barrels from Dread River’s stocks.


The distillate comes from 60% corn, 30% wheat, and 10% malted barley that was twice distilled through its 5000-liter copper pot still. The first maturation occurred in new, #3 charred American oak barrels for a year. Next, it spent two years in new, toasted 60-gallon French oak casks. The result is a 53% ABV (106°) Bourbon packaged in a 750ml bottle that retails for $106.99. When asked how the price was determined, Bruner suggested it was selected to match the whiskey’s proof.


How’s this Bourbon taste? The only way to know is to #DrinkCurious. But first, I must thank Dread River Distilling for sending me a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!


Appearance: I poured this into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. Inside, the liquid presented as the color of raw honey. A medium rim generated thick, slow legs.


Nose: As I kept the rim of my glass against my lower lip, I smelled corn, grass, cantaloupe, cacao, and vanilla. There was a slight spiciness that I attribute to the French oak. When I pulled the air through my lips, I tasted sweet corn.   


Palate: The first sip revealed a creamy, dense texture. The front of my palate encountered French oak, clove, and cantaloupe. The middle featured corn, vanilla, and caramel, while the back offered white pepper, oats, and chocolate.


Finish: Medium in duration, the finish consisted of white pepper, oats, French oak, caramel, and clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I have a ton of respect for those who have honorably served our nation by protecting our freedoms. The first sip seemed very young. As I continued to explore, Master’s Series Batch 2 began to grow on me but didn’t quite approach the premium-priced Bourbon realm.


If you want something special that honors and supports our veterans, you’ll want to purchase a bottle. However, from a bang-for-the-buck standpoint, my rating is a Bar. Cheers!   


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.