Maker’s “Staves” Off Criticism

There they are.  The ten little pieces of wood that have taken Maker’s Mark Whiskey to the next level.  See for 52 years Maker’s Mark Whiskey hasn’t put out a new product.  They have just bottled their small batch whiskey and that has been their only product they have.  Trouble is it isn’t very good in my opinion.  It has a lot of heat with no flavor reward.  It is simply put boring.  And I try to stay away from boring things when at all possible.

Be that as it may, about three years ago they started playing around with the whiskey to try and bring a new product to market.  They wanted something that was uniquely Maker’s Mark, but with a twist.  Well they tried a bunch of differnt ideas and techniques everything from changing ingredients, changing mash bill, changing fermentation, and barrels.  They finally hit on something and I must say that it works very well…

This incantation of Maker’s is their entry into the premium whiskey market to my way of thinking.  I know that others would argue that regular Makers because of its craftiness in how its made, and the fact that it is small batch is already a premium whiskey, but I don’t like it.  See you can take all the care in the world making something that technically should be great but if it isn’t, it isn’t.  It is like what my Son’s Basketball Coach says to him…You’re good when you’re good.  Well in my opinion Maker’s Mark isn’t good, but Maker’s 46 is.

The process by which they make this whiskey is to take regular Maker’s Mark Whisky (Notice I left off the “e” because they do on their bottle) and dump it out of the barrel, then to secure ten No. 46 French Oak staves or just thin planks of wood to the side of each barrel, then rebarrel the whiskey for another 9 to 12 weeks.

This imparts something that to this point Maker’s hasn’t had…flavor.  There is definitely a flavor reward that you get when you drink this new incantation.  What is very interesting about this whiskey is that you still get the very front end burn whish is characteristic of Maker’s but mid-palate there is a very nice sweetness with a cherry, caramel and woody flavor that takes over before going into its dry and rather short finish.  It is a very unique bourbon that they have created and one that takes the interesting characteristics of Maker’s Mark with its up front and aggressive heat and improves upon it by adding a much broader spectrum of flavor.

I liked Maker’s 46 and think you will too.  I only drank it neat, so I don’t have tasting notes on the rocks or with a splash.  Give it a try these ways too and let me know what you think.

-Don

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11 Comments on “Maker’s “Staves” Off Criticism”

  1. PAUL
    August 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    We may have different tastes, as I prefer neat Makers to neat 46, but I will say that the 46 becomes significantly better with a single ice cube. I find a bit too much wood in the 46, but with a very controlled amount of ice/water, it opens up and the flavors shine.

    • Don
      August 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

      Good to know Paul. I’ll try it with a cube. When Jim and I drank it we were at Brewforia (my beer store) and oddly enough they had no ice. And you are right I don’t like Maker’s Mark any way you serve it. Maybe in Barbecue sauce… but that’s just a guess.

  2. Brandon
    August 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Sounds interesting, Don. I may have to pick some up this weekend and give it a try. I do plan to go back to Hanger 24 and get a growler and a pint… so that could interfere with my plan. :)

    • Don
      August 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

      What interfere Bandon?…Just drink your pint, get your growler and on the way home swing by the liquor store and get your 46. Simple plan, just one more step… ;)

  3. August 17, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that Maker’s 46, Don. I quite enjoyed it. I do drink Makers, but I always need to throw a cube or two in the glass. I found no such need with the 46. It was smooth neat, straight out of the glass. More flavorful as you noted and those flavors seemed well rounded and well put together.

    • Don
      August 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

      Anytime Chad. I thought it drank really nicely neat too. It was a well constructed whiskey that hung together well. The jury is still out however as to whether it unravels with cooling and water or if it opens up to reveal yet more flavor and spice.

  4. August 18, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    I totally agree with you on Maker’s being boring, Don, so I’m very excited to try this new (overdue) effort. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Don
      August 18, 2010 at 9:54 am #

      Greg I think you will like it. It has great flavor and nice heat. I wish they made all their bourbon this way.

    • August 18, 2010 at 11:05 am #

      It’s a whiskey transformed, Greg. I was blown away by what the staves did for the flavor of it.

      • August 19, 2010 at 9:53 am #

        And sometimes, the universe provides. I’ll get to try it on Saturday:

        http://www.thebrewworks.com/events/bourbon-brews-and-bryson-festival/

        I am now even more excited about getting through the week.

        Thanks again guys!

        • Don
          August 19, 2010 at 10:22 am #

          Looks like a great event Greg. The Four Roses Single Barrel and Small Batch are also great bourbons, as is the Knob Creek that will be tasted with the Maker’s 46. Enjoy!

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