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Bourbon Reviews Maker's Mark Distillery

Maker’s Mark Review

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Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky has been of my perennial favorites for years. I actually bought the bottle in the photo a while ago to write a proper review and, now that I found the time, I only have about a half of a shot left.

Here’s the history: Maker’s Mark was introduced to the market in 1959.  Bill Samuels Sr. is credited with the recipe (apparently with a little help from Pappy Van Winkle). Bill’s wife, Margie, provided the name, created the label, and thought up the idea of the wax seal.

Maker’s Mark, bottled at 90 proof, is aged for around six years. The barrels are charred for 40 seconds which opens the pores in the wood and caramelizes the natural wood sugars. Maker’s is unusual because it doesn’t contain any rye – their recipe uses red winter wheat, corn, and malted barley for the mash which creates a sweeter product.

The wax drip alone makes the bottle distinctive on the shelf.  It has a good amber color and a syrupy scent. Maker’s is on the mellower side – it has a slight burn early which quickly dissipates to reveal deep caramel-almond flavors, then finishes with a delightful maple aftertaste. It’s very easy to drink and works well with or without ice. It also makes a nice base for a more complex cocktail if that’s your thing.

I think that Maker’s is a staple in any collection and, price-wise, it well worth the money. I like having a bottle on hand, but personally have trouble keeping it in stock.

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Bourbon Reviews Maker's Mark Distillery Small Batch Bourbon

Maker’s 46 Bourbon

Taste: Smooth with big oak flavor, hints of vanilla
Verdict: Excellent.

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I’ve seen Maker’s 46 in the store for a while, but this is the first time I’ve tried it. Maker’s Mark came out with it about a year ago as the first new bourbon from the distillery in over 50 years. I guess it was a bit of a risk for the overall brand, but they wisely played it safe and produced a bourbon that is consistent with the original, if not a bit better.

The process of making the 46 was basically the same as the original Marker’s but with a twist: After aging the bourbon to maturity, they insert toasted French oak staves into the barrels for an few extra months. In addition to the added aging, the toasting of the staves adds a bit more caramel to the taste. You get the same deep, consistent flavor of Maker’s with some interesting vanilla, honey, and orange spices, a smooth finish, and no bitterness.

From a packaging perspective, the bottle itself is unique and stands out on the shelf somewhat. The minimalist labeling allows you to see the rich color of the bourbon and tends to make my mouth water. The wax seal and cork stopper are a nice acknowledgment to the Maker’s Mark signature.

I personally like the original Marker’s Mark, so Maker’s 46 suits my taste and I would definitely buy it again. It would be very good in a mint julep or a Manhattan (I’ll report back on both of those when I get a chance), but I would suggest trying it neat or with an ice cube first.

There were only 25,000 bottles produced in the first run and my local store only had two on the shelf. I’m not sure if more has been shipped yet, so make sure you grab some when you see it.

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UPDATE: Two people asked me what the 46 meant, so I did some research – apparently this is the product number of the oak staves they use.