A few weeks ago i was reading my twitter feed, when i saw Jeff’s (better known as the scotch hobbyist) tweet about him liking the new Maker 46. I really felt ashamed as i previously never tasted Maker’s mark (one of the most popular bourbons), and i felt i needed to rectify that and also see what all the fuss about the Maker’s 46 really was.
So, let’s start with a wee Background regarding MM. Apparently it’s one of the biggest distilleries (with a 8 Million Litre capacity per annum) , Located in the south of Kentucky in the city of Loretto, Marion country. Usually Maker’s mark is aged for 6 to 7 years. One interesting fact is that Maker’s Mark is one of the few distillers to rotate the barrels from the upper to the lower levels of the warehouses during the aging process to benefit from the differences in temperature during the process.
Maker’s mark bottles are sealed with Red wax, and recently it was ruled by a federal judge that ‘dripping red-wax seal on its bottles is the company’s exclusive property’ .
Before delving into the new Maker’s 46 i thought it was only logical to taste the ‘basic’ MM and then compare.
Maker’s Mark , 45% (90 Proof) , $26 / £ 22
Nose: Rather complex with the expected Vanilla and oak, some spice, honey , fruity notes and even some cereal notes going on.
Palate: Big vanilla here , Spicy, sweet, some cocoa notes as well as honey cereal grains with a twist of cinnamon and ginger.
Finish: Long, on cocoa, apricot compote, plum jam, wood spice, and Oak, with a bitter end note.
All in all a very enjoyable dram of the genre. Very intense flavours, with the Bourbon-ish character, a solid whisky, for times I’m in the mood for major vanilla and sweet spicy oak, Kentucky style.
Maker’s 46 – what is it all about?
Now let’s get going with Maker’s 46, which is why in the first place i tasted the original MM… At first i did (quite foolishly) that Maker’s 46 stood for 46% ABV, but when i saw that it was actually 47% i knew i was wrong. As it happens, the Maker’s people were experimenting with their whisky and Master Distiller Kevin Smith began some lengthy “trial and error” to create something new and different. After some trial and error he reached a conclusion that he must you MM as the base of the new ‘experiment’ and at the 46th trial, they hit the jackpot. it was the expression they were looking for. What actually goes on is this (broken into steps):
Fully matured Maker’s Mark is removed from its barrel. Top hoops are removed from the barrel, and the barrel head is pulled.
Ten wooden seared staves are then affixed to the inside of that barrel.
Searing the staves caramelizes the sugars in the wood, adding a unique flavor that finishes on the front of the tongue.
The fully matured Maker’s Mark is then put back in the barrel and aged several more months. When it tastes exactly right, Maker’s 46 is removed from the barrel, bottled, corked and dipped.
Simple , right?
Actually this is a very similar method which was also used by the Compass Box Spice tree, and got them all in trouble with the SWS… ( i will be reviewing the Spice Tree later this month, so watch this space).
Maker’s 46 , 47% ABV (94 Proof) , $35
Nose: The nose is more complex here then the original Maker’s : on first whiff i get wee balsamic, as if it were a sherried dram. very interesting. then it gives way to the the obvious vanilla, but more fruity (apple pie) , tobacco, wood , some oatmeal and butterscotch.
Palate: eucalyptus, oak, Burnt sugar. Spicier than the original . and loads of vanilla and cinnamon as well.
Finish: Finishes on bitter cocoa, wood, vanilla, and some over ripe oranges. Medium length.
Maker’s 46 is really very nice. Complex, with a great nose and palate that delivers everything promised by the nose and even more. The bottle itself is plain beautiful, with that sexy Wax, and shape, and will look great on my shelf. I tried looking for this one in online shops, and couldn’t find stores that stock it (amongst the few i trust and work with). Seems like a very good option if you are looking to broaden your American whisky collection.
Again, many thanks to Jeff for the samples.