The Maker's Mark Cask Strength 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. £70
Even though the brand has long since passed out of family ownership it really doesn’t feel like it with the dedication shown to each and every bottle of bourbon. All bottles are labelled by hand and dipped into hot wax for a few seconds to create the iconic red seal. It is even purported that the current master distiller, Bill Samuels Jnr, is able to pick out which of the staff has written some of the labels on the bottles. The idea of using wax as a seal came from Marge Samuels who was the wife of one of the early owners. She even designed the Maker’s Mark symbol itself, which consists of a star shape that is derived from the name of the family farm, (Star Hill Farm), an 'S' that stands for Samuels, and the number 'IV' in Roman numerals indicates that her husband was a fourth generation distiller.
All 3 of the Maker’s Mark products use red winter wheat as the secondary grain which gives them a very soft and gentle taste profile. The Cask Strength version of Maker’s Mark was first introduced in 2014 and was only available in their gift shop in 375ml sized bottles. For cask strength bourbon it is bottled at a much lower ABV than many other whiskies, between 54% and 57% ABV. We were originally mistaken to think that this was from a single barrel but it is actually blended from up to 19 barrels all at different ages and strengths.
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – Fairly light on the nose for a cask strength. Huge amounts of cinnamon, with vanilla and caramel. A nutty aroma and Mav’s new favourite aroma of mint (which is being called out more and more frequently)
What they say we should get - Robust cinnamon and mint, with waves of juicy cherry and vanilla underneath
What we got – Almost overwhelming nuttiness, it’s like a breakfast bar full of nuts with molasses and treacle. The cask strength of the whisky is much more noticeable on the palate. A fiery and warming little number, but not at all spicy as of course the secondary grain is wheat as opposed to rye (which makes Mav very happy)
What they say we should get - Toasted oak leading to a very subtle touch of smoke. Nutty caramel and chewy dates
What we got – Long and warm but no extra flavours on the finish. A real winter warmer of a dram and sticks around for a considerable length of time
What they say we should get – Lingering clove and heat
This review is being written at Christmas time, and we really could not have selected a more suitable bourbon. From it's rich redness of sealed wax to the long and warm feeling you receive after tasting, it really helps to warm those cockles on a winter’s night. With it's gorgeous design and hand crafted labelling it also makes a superb choice for a seasonal gift.
Our tasting notes were pretty spot on when compared with the expert findings. Cinnamon and mint with a wonderful overload of nuttiness on both the nose and palate. However, cherry was not found on the nose and the subtle smoke on the palate was also hid from the Gents.
If you are already a lover of the regular Maker’s Mark then the Gents have a warning for you. Proceed with caution – once you’ve had the opportunity of trying the Cask Strength there really is no turning back to the standard entry Maker's. It may cost more than double the price of the regular but it is without doubt, double the bourbon... and then some.
8 out of 10 - Mav
7 out of 10 – Mr. Pie