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