The Maker's Mark 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. £25 - £30
This iconic bourbon was born near Loretto, Kentucky in 1958 after production had started four years earlier. Famously marketed in the 1960’s and 70’s with the tag line 'it tastes expensive…. and is'. America’s only handmade bourbon whisky, each batch is less than 19 barrels and then made using the sour-mash method. Undoubtedly it is a small batch bourbon whisky without shouting about it.
Today it is a global market player and was the 8th best-selling whisky in America for 2017. It has seen a number of owners over its history with it currently being owned by Beam Suntory.
In 2013, when owned by Beam Inc. the company made industry headlines by announcing that they were going to reduce the ABV of the bourbon from 45% to 42%, thus enabling it to increase its inventory by a remarkable 6%...... Cue mass hysteria from it's fans and huge amounts of negative feedback. Remarkably, Beam Inc. changed their minds amid this customer outrage. An unusual victory for bourbon drinkers with the seemingly continuous dropping of age statements (sometimes preceded by moving the age statement on the bottle firstly from the front to the back label) a now common place occurrence.
The dripping red wax is one of the most recognisable bourbon trademarks of all time and even to this day they are hand dipped, with the production line capable of dipping an impressive 125 bottles every minute. The bourbon inside is always the same but there are many collectors editions of the wax topped bottles using white, blue and green colouring. They commemorate many sporting celebrities including horses, basketball and American football personalities. Perhaps one day there may be one for the Gents...
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – Sweet caramel and vanilla cream, unmistakably bourbon. Apples and strawberry jam, a very fruity nose and has a noticeable alcohol percentage pertaining to be above the standard 40% ABV. Very much like ice-cream for Mav. Is there such a thing as bourbon ice-cream? If there isn’t there should be!
What they say we should get - Fruity and rich. There are lovely notes of spiced honey and mixed peels, a little malmsey, hazelnut and a touch of cut fruit with toasty oak providing a backbone
What we got – Definite spice on the palate which you don’t get on the nose, Syrup and vanilla once more. Very creamy once the spice has dissipated and it delightfully melts away. Finding spice on the palate is an interesting point. With wheat being the second grain this is a somewhat unusual find. Sweet honey, oaky nuttiness with hints of cherry flavour.
What they say we should get - Rich and full. There are notes of rye and spice, barley malt, a little nut oil with butterscotch and vanilla
What we got – Sweet nuttiness, mild but not a particularly long finish
What they say we should get - Quite sweet with butterscotch and dry oak spice
This is now our final review in the trilogy of standard Maker’s Mark offerings. You can find the other reviews here of Maker's 46 and Maker's Cask Strength. One which we are both yet to sample is the Private Select collection stock. The collections all begin their journey as Maker’s Mark Cast Strength and there are 10 different custom staves added to each barrel and finished in a limestone cellar. The 10 staves can be a combination of 5 different flavour profiles. This equals 1001 possible stave combinations. We’ve heard extremely good things about the Private Select and would love to find one out in the wild but this is proving to be nigh on impossible this side of the pond.
The Gents have recently declared regular Maker’s Mark on the podcast to be a cracking house bourbon and have been culpable in the past of not visiting it as often as we should have. There is absolutely nothing bad about this bourbon, it is of superb quality, around about 6 years of age, the price is great and if this is an indication of eminence, it is exactly the same mash-bill as the Pappy Van Winkle’s.
Taking readily available bourbons for granted is a crime where we can freely admit our guilt. One thing we will say about Maker’s Mark though, is that once you’ve tried their Cask Strength bottle it is very difficult to go back to the regular bottle - Once you have cask, you never go back.
7 out of 10 - Mav
6 out of 10 – Mr. Pie