Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tasting: Maker's Mark. Maker's 46

Maker’s Mark. Maker's 46
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery: Maker’s Mark Distillery
Age: NAS
Proof/ABV: 94/47%.
Mash bill: 70% corn, 16% wheat, 14% malted barley.
Average Swedish price: 603SEK/76USD.
Release: First limited Swedish release, february 2017.

Points: 85/100

Deep and lovely, just a bit darker than regular Maker’s Mark.

Both nose and taste of Maker’s 46 is consistent with the regular offering, but amped up and much more apparent: the sweet corn and buttery nose of a wheated bourbon with charred wood, tar and gasoline very up front from the finishing process and the higher proof.

Sweet corn, with a bit less grain/grass than regular Maker’s Mark, but a tiny bit more bitterness coupled with burnt sugar instead. Charred caramelized wood and licorice. Medium linger, but quite hot. Blind, I would guess this higher than 47%.

Mouth feel:
Medium to thin viscosity, a bit buttery with a prominent but not off-putting alcohol burn.

Maker’s Mark products are produced at Star Hill Farm in Loretto, Kentucky–just south of Louisville. Whiskey has been made at this location since the early 19th century. Bill Samuels Sr. bought the distillery in 1953 and founded Maker’s Mark. The first bottle of regular Maker’s Mark was sold in 1958 and up until 2010, it was the only product made at the farm.

Fifty two years later, Bill Samuels Sr’s son Bill Samuels Jr, now in charge of the product, finally decided it was time to broaden the portfolio and–together with then-master distiller Kevin Smith and Brad Boswell, President of ISC Barrels, a Kentucky cooperage–started experimenting with barrel finishing.

What they agreed on doing with the new product was to extra-age (or “finish”) regular Maker’s Mark in American oak barrels with ten charred French oak staves inserted to it.

Because of bourbon changing much more aggressively during aging in the hot Kentucky summer, the more delicate finishing process had to occur during winter time, but to meet demands of what was fast becoming a popular product, Maker’s Mark built a year-round cool aging facility right into a limestone hillside next to the distillery, and named it “The Cellar”. After Maker’s Mark bourbons’ regular aging period of about six years, it is finished in The Cellar for an additional nine to eleven weeks. This finishing process experiment was number forty six in the order of testing, which gave the new product it’s name: Maker’s 46.

With a reassuring grasp on both tradition and innovation, Maker’s Mark developed a new product that feels even more refined and elegant, but should still be very familiar to even the most die-hard regular Maker’s Mark fans. Finishing a product–when done right–is a convenient way to introduce new flavors or to enhance existing ones, without having to change more cumbersome parts of the production process. What’s unique about Maker’s Mark is amplified in the 46, and the two percent bump in ABV complements the bolder flavors of the finished bourbon.

Photo & Review By: Erik Hasselgärde