Food & Drinks

Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan Departs To Launch ‘Hidden Barn’ Whiskey

Old Forester’s iconic master taster is leaving the whiskey brand to launch a lineup of her own.

“Hidden Barn” spirits is a collaboration between former master taster and blender Jackie Zykan and partners from 5280 Whiskey Society, as well as Neeley Family Distillery president Royce Neeley.

Zykan tells Forbes that she will be working as master blender with a small team to produce the spirit, including the company’s first whiskey drop later this summer.

At Old Forester, Zykan has led a coveted and high-profile career in the bourbon industry as a master taster, where she led new product development and assisted on post-production decision making. She joined the company in 2015, growing to become one of the brand’s most recognizable faces.

In March 2021, she was the first woman to have her signature grace the front of the Old Forester bottle. The limited-edition 117 Series “High Angels’ Share” featured her name on the packaging.

At Hidden Barn, Zykan will be focused on tasting and ensuring post-distillation quality, similar to the experience she’s cultivated for the past seven years at Old Forester. She tells Forbes that she’s looking forward to transitioning into ownership at Hidden Barn and using her tasting skills to grow a brand on her own.

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In contrast to Zykan’s budding brand, Old Forester was created in the 1870s and has been strongly established in the United States whiskey industry.

As early as late July, the Hidden Barn brand will launch a small batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon from Neeley Family Distillery’s whiskey.

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