Maker’s Mark has been making wheat Bourbon for the last 55 years one way and only one way. They actually have a very unique process for the whiskey that involves red winter wheat, and locally grown grains in combination with local limestone filtered spring water, and a proprietary yeast strain that combine in fermentation and aging to produce what I would call a mediocre whiskey.
As a matter of fact, Maker’s Mark was the first whiskey I ever reviewed for this site. You can see my review here. I really didn’t care for it too much, but what I cared even less for was the attitude that Maker’s had about their whiskey. They thought it was perfect and didn’t need any other entries into the market. Well the Market has finally won that battle…
Enter Maker’s 46. Why 46, I couldn’t say, and apparently neither can Maker’s because there is no explanation for the name. It is kind of like those vanity plates you see on the highway that don’t spell anything, then if you ask someone you find out it is the first initial of all their cats or something.
So be that as it may Maker’s 46 is their second entry into the marketplace. It is made by taking fully mature Maker’s Mark (because they still have this uber superiority complex that is evident if you look at their web site) remove it from the barrel then take ten French oak staves that have been toasted and attach them to the inside of the barrel.
Here is a picture of a barrel with the staves attached looking down from the top. The whiskey is then rebarreled and allowed to age for a few more months with the toasted French oak imparting flavor to the whiskey. It is then bottled as Maker’s 46.
Interestingly it cannot be called Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, because the process of rebarreling the distillate disqualifies it from being called straight. So it is just Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.
I haven’t tasted this yet, but it is said to have a spiciness that lingers on the front of the tongue. I will get a bottle and review it soon, but when a whiskey maker that has only had one product for almost 55 years decides to do an about-face and enter into the market with a second product, that is news, so I thought I would let you all know. If anyone has tried it, I’d be very interested to hear about your experience and perception of the whiskey.
UPDATE: Makers 46 is called 46 because they use #46 French Oak Staves. Apparently the #46 staves are way better than the #45 or the #47 staves. They are just low rent trash staves!