Tag Archives: Maker’s Mark

Maker’s 46 Cask Strength – Review

Maker’s 46 Cask Strength Background

Maker's 46 Cask Strength
Maker’s 46 Cask Strength

Bill Samuel’s Sr. launched Maker’s Mark in 1958 as wheated Bourbon in an attempt to reboot his family’s Bourbon. Company lore is that his wife Margie helped by baking various recipes of bread. The recipe without rye was favorable and Maker’s Mark wheated Bourbon recipe was born.

Until a few years back, classic Maker’s Mark recipe was basically the company’s only product. Through careful warehouse management for consistency, Marker’s Mark has traditionally only had one product, however, there have been boutique products such as Maker’s Mark White and pre-mixed Mint Julep. As Bill Samuel’s Jr. reached retirement, he was looking to put his stamp on his dad’s company with a new product while not disrupting the classic Bourbon product.

Maker’s 46 is standard Maker’s Mark further aged with toasted french oak staves. The 46 is the recipe name of the wood treatment from barrel maker Independent Stave, which happens to be have a factory a few miles away.

Recently Maker’s Mark introduced a barrel proof version of its standard Bourbon called Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. For my taste, I prefer the Cask Strength over regular Maker’s 46 and thought it might be a little ironic Bill Jr’s legacy could have simply been bottling up his dad’s standard recipe as unadulterated, straight from the barrel goodness.

Anyway, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength appears to be a hit as it reached wide market availability earlier in 2015. Without being cut with water, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is about 25% more product by volume, but carriers about a 100% price premium at retail. With the popularity and success of that product, you don’t have to be a genius to think of what could be next for Maker’s Mark… That leads us to Maker’s 46 Cask Strength.

For the first run of Maker’s 46 Cask Strength, Maker’s Mark bottled a few hundred cases only to be sold out of its Loretto, KY gift shop. In fact, the label of these initial bottles as you can see in the picture is pretty generic. So, this is basically limited edition, although I’m pretty sure more is coming  along with a fancier label.

Details

No age statement. 108.9-proof. Wheated Bourbon. Paid $40 (375ml)

Aroma

Butterscotch, caramel, charcoal, fruity cherries

Flavor

Rich, buttery, Werther’s Originals. Vanilla, some cinnemon. Some astringency. Smokey Char flavors. Roasted corn. A little bite and burn at the end. Finishes a bit dry.

Overall

If you like Maker’s 46, there’s obviously a more to enjoy here. I actually prefer regular Marker’s Mark to Maker’s 46, and yeah, it can be a little boring for Bourbon nerds, but sometimes “boring” hits the spot. Plus the price is reasonable. When Maker’s Mark Cask Strength came out I was interested in checking it out and even though the value equation isn’t great, I gave it bump over the regular despite the price hike. I feel like I’m in the same spot with Maker’s 46 Cask Strength. I think it’s pretty good stuff, although at least initially pricy when equalized at $80 for a 750ml bottle.

I think Maker’s 46 Cask Strength has a little bite at the end that’s sort of bitter-metallic. A little water helps smooth this out, but that’s counter to paying the premium for barrel proof Maker’s 46. Also, it seems more astringent than I enjoy. Beyond that, it’s got that sweet, charcoal, smokey, BBQ-like flavors of Maker’s Mark backed up with softer toasted oak that seems butterscotch-like.

So basically if you’re a Maker’s fan this is a must find. If you like trying new stuff, this is a good bottle to enjoy. The value from Maker’s Mark, however, I think is still in the original. I still think Maker’s 46 profile and price is best aimed at fans of Maker’s Mark, and Maker’s 46 Cask Strength I think is a nice spurge bottle for those drinkers to at least experience for themselves.

Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.0/5.0 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.)

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Maker’s Mark Cask Strength – Review

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Background

Marker's Mark Cask Strength
Marker’s Mark Cask Strength

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%.

Details

Bottled at 113.3-proof / 56.7%. No age statement. Wheated Bourbon. Paid $35 (375ml)

Aroma

Old coffee grounds, lots of butterscotch, Werther’s originals. Charcoal. Floral with fruity berries. Cinnamon.

Flavor

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.

Overall

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.

Recommendation

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.

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Maker’s 46 – Review

Maker’s 46 Background

Maker's 46 BottleMaker’s 46 is Maker’s Mark Bourbon finished with French oak staves. Maker’s 46 is aged just like Makers Mark, but after six years it’s dump and then returned to the barrel with the staves. The staves are “seared” or heavily toasted and not charred. Treatment of the staves is called Profile 46, which is where we get the Maker’s 46 name. The goal here for Maker’s Mark was to make a unique product without negatively disrupting an already stressed Maker’s Mark inventory.

I covered the history of Maker’s Mark in that review, but for here what you need to know is this is a wheated Bourbon. This means it uses wheat and not rye as the secondary grain. The recipe was derived by Bill Samuels Sr. through some bread baking. He and his wife would try different recipes that they thought would make a flavorful and easy drinking Bourbon. There is also a Stitzel-Weller connection as Pappy Van Winkle provided help with his recipes. Stizel-Weller produced wheated Bourbons of their own with the Pappy, Weller, and Old Fitzgerald brands.

Currently the company is undergoing expansion with third still. This will increase distilling capacity by 50%. The expansion seeks to replicate their existing setup to maintain character and quality. Maker’s Mark did a similar expansion to two stills in 2002.

Details

No age statement, but said to be about 6 years old. Bottled at 47%. Mash bill is 70% corn, 16% red winter wheat, 14% barley. Paid $40 (state minimum price).

Aroma

Werther’s Originals. Butterscotch, caramel, vanilla. Oak. Rich and sweet.

Flavor

Caramel, toffee, butter. Toasted oak is really coming across as butterscotch to me. Cinnamon and vanilla. Sweet and rich. Alcohol warmth in the finish with a touch of astringency.

Overall

It has the bones of Maker’s Mark with its rich sweetness, but a lot of other stuff going on. The char I liked is still there, but a bit more fleeting I think with these new bolder flavors. Lots of new character here with the oak staves. As I said this comes across as butterscotch to me. If you like Maker’s Mark but found it boring, this should address that niche.

I feel like Maker’s 46 is distinctly different and I wouldn’t describe it as a Maker’s 2.0, or an upscale Maker’s. If Maker’s Mark is the one Bourbon you really enjoy, Maker’s 46 should make a nice detour. If, however, Maker’s Mark is one of a number of Bourbons you like, Maker’s 46 should have to stand on its own against a crowded shelf of contenders.

Maker’s Mark to me was a borderline Buy a Bottle decision. My primary complaint was I felt it was too sweet for me and a bit dull. Maker’s 46 is still too sweet, but more interesting in character. That’s good. Unfortunately it’s also much more expensive. I think I prefer the more simplified original with the cheaper price tag. The stave process is interesting and brings a lot of flavor, but ultimately I’m not a big enough fan of the original to pay for a similarly sweet experience with that added character. On the flip side, Maker’s Mark is already one of only a handful of wheated Bourbons, so it’s unique in that regard. This process makes for an even more unique product and definitely worth at least trying out.

Maker’s 46 Recommendation

Try a Glass – 2.5/5 Rating

Buying Options and Further Research

As I said Maker’s 46 is a unique product in a subset of Bourbon, so it doesn’t have any peers. It’s the most expensive wheated Bourbon I’ve reviewed. The closest option is Maker’s Mark itself for about $10 less. So, really this comes down to I think taste preference and willingness to try something different. If you’re looking get into a wheated Bourbon, I would highly recommend trying a Weller 12, Old Weller Antique, or Maker’s Mark. Larceny is another good option from Heaven Hill. If you’ve had those and want to expand your wheated horizons or simply want to try something different, give Maker’s 46 a spin.

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Maker’s Mark – Review

Maker’s Mark Background

Maker's Mark BottleMarker’s Mark is a wheated Bourbon, meaning it uses wheat as a secondary grain instead of rye. Swapping out the rye with wheat makes the whiskey generally sweeter and easier drinking and that was the goal here with Maker’s Mark.

The Samuels family has been distilling in Kentucky since the 1780’s. T.W. Samuels, Bill Samuels Sr father, set out to restart whiskey making after prohibition and they were basically starting over from scratch. Bill Sr. suggested they rework the recipe to make the whiskey more drinkable for modern palates, but his dad didn’t want to change a thing so they restarted operations using the old family recipe.

Before World War II Bill Sr sold the family company and after the war he purchased the failing Burks Spring Distillery for $35,000. He and his wife developed the current recipe through baking bread with combinations of wheat and rye. They settled on flavors made with red winter wheat. There is also a Stitzel-Weller connection as Pappy Van Winkle provided help with his recipes, including providing the yeast that’s currently used. Stizel-Weller produced wheated Bourbons of their own with the Pappy, Weller, and Old Fitzgerald lines. The story goes that after Bill Sr got the recipe he wanted, he burned the old family recipe. In 1953 Bill Sr launched what is today Marker’s Mark, which was a premium Bourbon designed to be full flavored and easy drinking. In1975 Bill Samuels Jr. took over operations when his dad retired and now his son Rob Samuels is president. The company is owned by Beam-Suntory.

Currently the company is undergoing expansion with a third still, which will increase distilling capacity by 50%. The expansion seeks to replicate their existing setup to maintain Maker’s Mark’s character and quality. Maker’s Mark did a similar replication expansion to two stills in 2002.

Details

Bottled at 45%. No age statement, but claimed to be age about six years. Mash bill is 70% corn, 16% red winter wheat, 14% barley. Paid $30.

Aroma

Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, corn, charred wood. Smells sweet.

Flavor

Sweet up front. Caramel, butterscotch, maple syrup, corn. Rich. Some warming on the finish and a touch of astringency. Nice char comes through. Definitely balanced to the sweet and caramel. A little water brings out more sweetness and cools it down a bit, but thins it out too much, I think.

Overall

Sipping on this glass I’m thinking of a nice summer day out on the deck. It’s light and refreshing. The profile to me comes across as sweet and rich with nice barrel char coming through. That combo has me thinking BBQ.

Maker’s Mark is a great Bourbon with its biggest fault being overly approachable. There’s nothing to dislike, but not much to get excited about either. Maker’s Mark is a good choice for someone just getting into Bourbon. Also, Maker’s Mark is seemingly everywhere, so you can likely find yourself a quality pour of Maker’s Mark at even the most lame of bars/restaurants.

When I think Maker’s Mark, I think Sam Adams. Sam Adams is well marketed quality beer with mass appeal that sort of gets looked over by enthusiasts. Maker’s Mark has a great story and a fine product that deserves some love, despite mass appeal, brand awareness, and ubiquitous availability. Like I said, it’s a little sweet for my preference and it doesn’t exactly wow me, but it’s a classic that I’ll keep around. Price is a little high I think compared to the competition, especially similar Weller wheaters. If you can find it for the same price range as Old Weller Antique or Weller 12, I’d say keep it stocked.

Maker’s Mark Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.5/5 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.)

Links & Reviews