In my last post, I gave a little bit of background information on both Maker's Mark and the newish Maker's Private Select, including a breakdown of what each type of finishing stave adds to the flavor of the finished product.
Tonight, however, I want to talk about the bottles that I actually purchased. I went out of my way to purchase bottles that had wildly different combinations of finishing staves. I did this to try to maximize the differences between the two bottles so I could see just how much difference they actually made.
Maker's Mark Private Select: Whisky Magazine and Liquor Barn Selection
Purchase Info: $74.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Liquor Barn, Louisville, KY
Details: 55.75% ABV. Oak Finishing Stave: 2-Maker's 46, 8-Roasted French Mocha
Nose: Wintergreen with a slight floral note, brown sugar and some oak.
Mouth: Baking spice, brown sugar, oak, and almond.
Finish: Long and warm with almond and sweetness.
Thoughts: This is a bit hot and bitter for my tastes. It's fine, but not for me. And for the price, I wouldn't recommend it. Not sure what Whisky Magazine and Liquor Barn were aiming for here, but they may have missed it. In any case, I think the two of them could have done better.
Maker's Mark Private Select: The Party Source Selection
Purchase Info: $69.99 for a 750 mL bottle at the Party Source, Bellevue, KY
Details: 55.1% ABV. Oak Finishing Stave: 3-Baked American Pure 2, 2-Seared French Cuvee, 2-Maker's 46, 1-Roasted French Mocha, 2-Toasted French Spice
Nose: Maple, honey, black tea, and baking spice.
Mouth: Spicy and warm with honey, cloves, nutmeg, orange zest, and black tea.
Finish: Oak Finishing Stave: On the long side of medium, lingering black tea, orange zest, and spice.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed the nose on this one. The mouth and finish were interesting as well because I seldom get orange zest on a bourbon and I enjoyed that. I'm not wowed, but it's enjoyable while laying on the sofa and binging a little Netflix.
You may have noticed in the last post, that most of the mentions of various products end with the fact that I enjoy them. I've enjoyed every Maker's I've had, until now. The regular releases are good, solid bourbons. They are affordable and available wheated bourbons. the cask strength Maker's and Maker's 46 are a joy to drink. These are more expensive than any of their previous releases and, honestly, I'm underwhelmed. I like Maker's Cask Strength much better than either of the bottles I got. And here in Minnesota, I can get that for $55-60.
That said, it may just be the bottles I stumbled upon. I'm not willing to give up yet, though it will be a while before I decide to try again. I'm mostly not willing to give up entirely because, I tried the bourbon from my two bottles mixed together in equal parts and I like it much better than either of them on their own. Does that mean that I would like a bottle that is made up of 2-Baked American Pure 2, 1-Seared French Cuvee, 2-Maker's 46, 4-Roasted French Mocha, and 1-Toasted French Spice? No idea, but if I see one like that I will probably pick it up and see.
UPDATE: In response to this review, Maker’s Mark was kind enough to send me a bottle from their gift shop. It used all Maker’s 46 staves (and so is essentially a Maker’s 46 cask strength). They sent it to me to provide me with another opportunity to try one of their Private Select bottles and maybe change my opinion of the line. I really enjoyed it, as I thought that I might. (When I reviewed the initial cask-strength Maker’s 46 I purchased from their gift shop I gave it a “love” rating.) So I’m posting this as an update and not a full review since not much has changed about my thoughts on the various bottles (meh, like, love respectively) but I needed to be transparent on receiving the third bottle. I would say that if you like Maker’s 46 and see a Private Select bottle that is entirely using Maker’s 46 staves you should pick it up. I think you will really like it.
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