Maker's 46: Revisited

Hey folks, this is going to be the last post of 2018 as I take a little time to spend with my family over the holidays. BourbonGuy.com will be back to its regularly scheduled twice per week posting as of January 3rd, 2019. Until that time, I hope you have a very fun, yet safe, holiday season and I will see you in the new year.

It has been one thousand, five hundred and seventy-seven days since I last did a tasting of Maker’s 46. About four hundred days later I featured the entire Maker’s Mark line (to that point) in the inaugural edition of the “If you’ve had…” series.

I’ve always had a fondness for Maker’s Mark. It is one of the few wheated bourbons (those that use wheat as the secondary grain instead of the typical rye) that I like to the point where I would buy it again. The last time I reviewed it, (right at review 50 or so) I said the following:

It’s like a spicy candy. And that makes me happy.

I’ve had this on the shelf quite a few times, and every time I do I think that I should buy it more often. Then of course, I forget about it in favor of the next new shiny thing. This is the first time that I’ve sat down to do a thoughtful tasting of it, though, since those first few posts. Let’s see if anything has changed other than the price, which in this case went down.

Maker’s 46: Revisited

Purchase Info: $25.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 47% ABV

Nose: Cherry, chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Mouth: Overflowing with baking spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. There is a nice toffee sweetness baking them up.

Finish: Medium length and warm. The baking spice parade continues here with the spicy notes from the mouth hanging around for a nice long while.

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Thoughts: Like I said above, I tend to forget about this one. No more. At roughly $25 per bottle, I think this needs to join the rotation of “everyday” bourbons on the shelf. This, Wild Turkey 101, and a Very Old Barton. Not a bad rotation.


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Maker's Mark: Seared Bu 1-3

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Maker's Mark for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

I have spent the last two evenings re-mulching the flower beds in front of my house. If I did it all at once, this would be a much more onerous task, but luckily the pick-up truck can only hold so many cubic yards of mulch. So I get to break it up into three much more manageable (though, to this out of shape drinker, still tiring) jobs. We like to get the ruby red mulch. Not only is it an attractive color, but it nicely accents the green plants that it surrounds. 

Does this have anything to do with tonight's whiskey? Not really. I just wanted to whine about my sore back for a bit. 

Well, maybe there is one connection. Red. Tonight I'm tasting a lovely limited edition, gift shop only, version of bourbon's favorite redhead, Maker's Mark. It is a sold out release, so I'm basically bragging at this point. But the knowledge of how good, or not, this release is might help you decide whether or not to make the trip to Maker's to stand in line the next time they announce a super limited, distillery only release. 

In case you hadn't guessed it already, I'm tasting the Maker's Mark Seared Bu 1-3 bourbon tonight. It is an off-shoot of the Private Select program we discussed back in December. This time they are featuring a new stave that wasn't included in the Private Select program. Not because it didn't taste good, but because it didn't play well with others. 

So what is this Stave Bu 1-3? According to the press release, it is a "virgin seared and sous-vide  French oak stave." And according to author Carla Carlton, that means precisely what it sounds like: the seared staves were soaked in temperature-controlled water for some length of time. How does this help the stave make the whiskey taste different? No idea. I'm not a wood scientist (though if a wood scientist is reading this, I would love to know, and will happily publish, the answer). 

But for now, you probably don't care about that. You just want to know how it tastes. 

Maker's Mark Seared Bu 1-3

Purchase info: This sample was kindly provided to me free of charge by Maker's Mark. The suggested price was $39.99 for a 375 mL bottle. 

Details: 55.35% ABV. Batch #1. Sample date April 24, 2018. Stave profile 10 Seared Bu 1-3. 

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, ripe cherries. 

Mouth: Very warm when neat. Buttered toffee, honey, baking spices, and a light fruitiness. 

Finish: Long and warm. Lingering dark chocolate and cinnamon. 

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Thoughts: This is delicious. Forget making me want to drive down to buy it; this bourbon makes me want to live near the distillery so I could be first in line on the off chance there is something like this put out again. I'd love it if this one was added to the permanent line-up along side Maker's Mark, Maker's 46, and the cask strength ones. 

As this is a barrel-strength release, I'll let you know that this holds its own with, and can benefit from, a little water. All the flavors stick around, but the heat gets knocked down some so you can enjoy them. I absolutely love this one. I'll be sticking this in the closet to share when company comes over. 


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Maker's Mark Private Select, Part 2: The Reviews

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.

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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.

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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.

Verdict

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. 


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!