SmokeGood DrinkGood Magazine

Distilled Spirits: The Maker’s Mark 46 Story

Over the years, whenever Bill Samuels, Jr., was out spreading the word about Maker’s Mark, fans of the brand would ask him when he was going to introduce something new. Not being a big believer in “line extensions,” Bill pretty much ignored them for a good long while. But a couple of years ago, he and our then-Master Distiller Kevin Smith decided to give it a try. To give them the best chance at success, they called in Brad Boswell of Independent Stave, the cooperage that has been making oak barrels to the specifications of Bill Samuels, Sr., since 1953. After more than a few false starts and outright disasters, all three agreed that whatever “it” might be had to start with regular Maker’s Mark.

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So Brad started monkeying around with a special barrel and experimenting with different wood varieties and levels of char. The magic combination – which just happened to be trial #46 – 10 “seared” French oak staves inserted into the barrel to lend natural flavors of caramel, vanilla and spice. Finished Maker’s Mark was then added to the modified barrel and returned to the coolest part of the warehouse.

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About 10 weeks later, well, voilà – we had something noticeably bigger and bolder, but with the smoothness and drinkability that have always set Maker’s Mark apart from its peers. We call it Maker’s 46, in recognition of the winning recipe. It’s (once again) a totally new kind of bourbon: bold and complex, but as approachable and easy to drink as you’d expect from Maker’s Mark. #drinkgood whisky

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Tasting Note

Nose: Toffee sweetness and the saw dust from freshly cut wood. Has a very toasty aroma, with sweet spices and deep, thick caramel.

Palate: Creamy and very soft. Then it opens up, in fact it explodes with spiciness which concentrates on the tip of the tongue. It’s on nutmeg, mulled wine spices, allspice, cinnamon. Also a hint of hot apple juice. Kevin remarks that it’s not unlike the cinnamon flavoured gum, “Big Red” – we’ve literally no idea what Big Red is, but it sounds really manly.

Finish: A natural progression of the palate with the sweet spices and it concentrates on the tongue – this may be one of the few times you’ll notice a concentration of sweetness like this from a bourbon. It also becomes grassy after a minute or so.

 

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