The Maker's 46 review
Company: Maker’s Mark
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky (without the ‘e’, as the Maker’s Mark creator used the spelling in honour of his Scottish ancestry)
Breakdown: 70% corn, 16% wheat, 14% malted barley
Price: c. £40
The Maker’s Mark distillery sits on Hardin Creek, near Loretto, Kentucky, USA. The location has a long history of distilling and was the original site for the Burks’ distillery which was built in 1889. The site is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places and the US National Historic Landmark (the first to be recognised where distilling is still taking place). Modern history dates from 1953 when Taylor William Samuels Sr bought the distillery, the first bottle of Maker’s Mark was bottled in 1958 and featured the trademarked and now iconic dipped red wax seal.
Maker’s 46 was released in 2010 and was the first new expression from Maker’s Mark since the 1950’s. It is essentially the same as Maker’s Mark in terms of mash bill, but it is finished in barrels containing seared French oak staves which are then returned back to the coolest part of the warehouse for only around 10 weeks and the process occurs over the winter months. The intention of this extra step is to create a more complex whiskey with greater character and enhanced notes of caramel and vanilla. The term 46 comes not from the ABV strength achieved (as the naive Mav thought), but from the profile number of the many different experiments undertaken to achieve the perfect result.
For this review we drank it neat in a shot glass (don’t ask!)
What we got - Sweet, lemon (Mr Pie), nuts (Mav), very soft and delicate on the nose, Caramac (Old English chocolate bar)
What they say we should get - Hints of wood staves, caramel and sweetness
What we got - Smooth at first, glides over the tongue, then gives way to a large hit of pepper & spice (The Gents are now coining this phrase as - Speppery©) and wood. Very pleasant, dark chocolate (Mav)
What they say we should get – Very intense flavours: a big crescendo of wood blending perfectly with deep, complex and rich notes of vanilla and caramel
What we got – Long and Speppery©
What they say we should get – Smooth and subtle
Not sure if this can be classified as a finished bourbon or not? If it is, it’s the first one the Gents have reviewed. The concept is now becoming more widely used, as distilleries try to explore new avenues, test their own creative abilities, and ultimately test the market demand for different expressions. It took Maker’s Mark over 50 years to make the call and invest the time and money to try this. It is said that Bill Samuels Jnr (son of William) was not a great believer in line extensions. The term “If it ain’t broke, don't fix it?” comes to mind.
We know you didn’t ask, but the reason we reviewed this in shot glasses was because we were in a hotel in York, England (before the @adramaday charity auction event). We’re calling this out because even though the nose did provide us with interesting aromas we couldn’t find any hints of wood staves (tasting notes taken from Maker’s Mark, I guess they would say that). The intensity of pepper and spice is something we have only previously associated with the high rye bourbons, but this is only the 3rd wheated bourbon we’ve tried so far (others being regular Maker’s Mark and Larceny).
Overall this is a bigger, bolder, smoother and sweeter whisky than the original. Is it worth the extra £15? Well we guess that is your call, but for us it most definitely is. Make it a pay day treat, you know you’re worth it!
7 out of 10 - Mav
7 out of 10 – Mr. Pie