Thursday, July 19, 2018

Maker’s 46

August 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Bottle Reviews, Featured

Since 1958 Maker’s Mark Distillery has made, well, Maker’s Mark bourbon and nothing(-ish) else (other than Maker’s infused cherries, and other side-products). That is until now. Maker’s 46 is their new bourbon offering, and is what I would describe as a different treatment or finish of the original Maker’s Mark bourbon. It has some interesting and enjoyable changes to the character of the spirit, which I’ll get into, but before that, a short description of the way it’s treated/finished vs. how others have done it.

Production seems to be akin to how some Scotch producers will age their whisky in different barrels, to give different finishes. A good number of Scotch distillers or bottlers have experiments or normal production runs which they use different types of barrels, for part or all of the aging, either to sell individually or to mix for a final product. For example, Glenmorangie ages some in sherry casks, some in port pipes, some in madiera casks, etc. Balvenie ages their Doublewood in whisky casks for most of it’s aging, and then finishes with a few months in sherry casks. But for American whiskies, similar is rarely if ever done.

With Maker’s 46, the normal Maker’s Mark spirit is created and aged. At it’s normal maturity the spirit is drained from the barrel, and the barrel head pulled. Then ten oak staves which are “seared” (N.B., not “charred”) are added to the cask, apparently affixed to the inside. The barrel closed up again, and the spirit is reintroduced, and allowed to age for “several more months”, to take on some of the characteristics of the new wood added. While this method seems well-designed to allow them to fairly rapidly change supply of Maker’s Mark vs. Maker’s 46 by simply adding a some oak and aging a touch longer, or not, it is also well-designed to give a noticeably different spirt as a final product.

Now about that final product, the nose is slightly sharp and a bit earthy with a slight tone of sourdough bread and wet grain. While some traces of the normal, sweet Maker’s Mark nose is also there, this rendition smells more dry and astringent, which makes sense with the addition of new wood to the aging. The initial taste is that of slight caramel, but more of oak and again the sourdough bread with some traces of sour cherry also coming out (as a contrast to the sweet cherry I associate with Maker’s Mark and a number of other bourbons). It’s toasty and slightly nutty, with a trace of leather on the aftertaste.

As for cocktail uses, this is dry for a bourbon, so some recipes may not work well with it, if they work well with a sweeter bourbon. Conversely recipes designned around other types of drier whiskies may work quite well indeed. It lacks the spice of a rye, since wheat is the second grain, but to me the extra new wood aging raws it up somewhat to make it a bit more versatile than Maker’s Mark itself, which I generally use only in Mint Juleps, bread puddings, cooking sauces, or sipped alone when I have a sweet tooth.

Maker’s 46 (The Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto, Kentucky), 94 proof, $35.95 in Oregon Liquor Stores

(Sample provided by Mr. Boozenik’s wallet)

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  1. […] for the Maker’s 46 Release Party. The evaluation of the spirit itself was well covered in by Mr. Boozenik so to escape redundancy, I will briefly touch on the food, most of which also involved […]