Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is a full strength bottling of the classic Maker’s Mark. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is uncut and non-chill filtered Bourbon that basically turns up the volume on the standard Maker’s Mark.
For decades Maker’s Mark basically only offered its iconic wax dipped bottle filled with Bill Samuels Sr’s family wheated Bourbon recipe. In 2010 his Bill Jr was thinking about his legacy, but they had a problem. They didn’t have capacity and perhaps too time to launch a new product. Maker’s 46 was the result of some creative thinking to utilize existing barrels but finish them with toasted oak staves. Now a few years later there’s a booming demand among Bourbon nerds for barrel strength bottling. Heaven Hill last year launched a barrel proof version of its Elijah Craig, which I’m a big fan. Seems a great idea for Maker’s Mark to do the same.
Maker’s Mark is bottled at 90-proof and the Maker’s Mark Cask Strength version here is a relatively low proof. Maker’s Mark is thought to have a lower barrel entry proof, and given it’s aged around 6-7 years, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength lower proof would seem to confirm that. This bottle is is batch 14-02, or the second batch. The initial batch was initially only available for retail at the Maker’s Mark gift shop, but distribution is widening. Batch 14-01 was bottled at 56.6%.
Bottled at 113.3-proof / 56.7%. No age statement. Wheated Bourbon. Paid $35 (375ml)
Old coffee grounds, lots of butterscotch, Werther’s originals. Charcoal. Floral with fruity berries. Cinnamon.
Surprisingly a little thin. Butterscotch, creamy vanilla. Cinnamon. Maple. Sawdust. Charcoal. Burnt sugars. Rich Dessert like. Some astringency and roasted corn in the finish. A little hot.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength reminds me of breakfast. It’s a rich, sweet experience and I think I’m keying on a few things to bring up cinnamon french toast w/ strawberries. I enjoy this with just a little water. The proof isn’t extreme to require water, I think, but at least this batch just gets better knocked down slightly. This is a little disappointing because the proof is just 20% or so higher than the standard bottle, but the price is over 100% more. Adding water feels a little counterproductive.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is distinctively Maker’s Mark, but at the same time pretty unique. I’m going to make the assumption this is the same age as regular Maker’s Mark, and if so, it might benefit from a bit more age. It’s a little rough, but has plenty of barrel character. Could stand to round out some edges, I think. With that said, this is a pretty interesting pour. A light splash of water improves the glass and helps with those rough edges I think. Brings out more of caramel and butterscotch. Good stuff.
I like regular Marker’s Mark, although it can be a little plain jane at times. Cask Strength fixes that nicely by giving rich, sweet, charred flavors of Maker’s Mark, but then turns up the volume for more of fruity, caramel, and butterscotch.
The 375ml bottle on Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is a bit high, but the $60 or so 750ml is more reasonable for a something special than the standard these days.
Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)
Buying Options and Further Research
I’ll compare this to other barrel-proof/high proof offerings around this price. Some good bottles to also consider include Colonel EH Taylor Jr Barrel Proof, Booker’s, Noah’s Mill, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, and the already mentioned Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Those are all near the price, although Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is unique in the group as the only barrel strength wheated Bourbon.