Review: Maker’s Mark “46″ Bourbon
Maker’s Mark “46”, 47%, $34
This is original “Red Wax” Maker’s Mark bourbon that received additional aging in barrels containing internal “seared” French Oak staves. The original Maker’s Mark, being a wheated bourbon (instead of rye, which is typically used), is a rather mellow, easy-to-drink bourbon. The French Oak staves in “46” add firm, complex, dry spices (lead by warming cinnamon, followed by nutmeg and clove), herb (a suggestion of Green Chartreuse liqueur, perhaps?), and some polished leather “grip”, which dovetails well with Maker’s trademark layered sweetness (caramel, vanilla, a hint of honey). I’m also picking up some dried fruit in the background. The seared oak stave influence is somewhat aggressive but never to the point of being excessive. (Note: that this is a pre-release sample with a smaller batch size than the ultimate final bottled product. There could be a slight variation in the flavor profile with the final product. If there is, I will adjust my tasting notes and rating.)
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90
WDJK bonus information:
If you’ve been following WDJK for the past few months, you know that I have been in the loop with Master Distiller Kevin Smith since he made this project public. (Follow the my posting history on it here. And there’s a video of Kevin Smith and Bill Samuels talking about it here.) You may also remember that I felt that the first sample he sent me did just cross the line regarding the impact of the oak staves on the whiskey–primarily on the finish.
A week or so ago, I received a new review sample from Kevin, and I (fortunately) like it more than the first one he sent me. I spoke with Kevin at length two days ago, and he explained the possible reason why.
It turns out that the earlier sample he sent me came from just one barrel. The new review sample was a composite of 15 different barrels and is more representative of the final product. Kevin also told me that the eventual final product will be a “dump” of closer to 10x that amount: 150 barrels.
I’ll be getting a sample of the final product too, and I’ll compare it to the “work in progress” samples I already received.
Finally, for those of you who may remember Maker’s Mark “Select”, a black wax-sealed version for the export market which was aged longer and bottled at 95 proof: as much as I like this new “46”, I really liked the “Select” too!