On the Rocks: Maker’s 46
Back when I was presented with the opportunity to pre-order Maker’s 46 for my store shelf my first question was obviously; “So, how exactly is Maker’s 46 Bourbon different from the regular, already more than tasty Maker’s Mark Bourbon?” The answer at the time was , basically, what the label says (see the picture to the right (H/T Boozeblogger), “barrel finished with oak staves”.
Yeah, I didn’t know exactly what that meant either. Luckily, the Maker’s Mark website has since then added a very informative section to their website. For those of you with time on your hands, please visit it. For those of you in a hurry to get to the good part, I’ll summarize.
First they take a perfectly good barrel of regular Maker’s Mark Bourbon, aged and ready for bottling, and empty it (don’t worry, they save the whisky). Then they take that barrel and mount an extra ten seared oak staves inside. After that is done, they re-fill the barrel with the whisky they just poured out and age it a bit longer. All that is good about whiskey comes from aging in the barrel; the color, the character, the flavor. Adding this extra wood gives the whisky much more charred wood surface area, meaning it has more to work with in the complexity and flavor department. That can only be a good thing.
First off, I’m already a fan of Maker’s Mark, and wheated whiskeys in general, but looking for that distinctive drippy red wax topped bottle has never led me astray no matter the bar I have bellied up to.
Maker’s 46 is indeed and improvement upon an already very good thing. The aroma is not all that much different from the regular Maker’s Mark with plenty of caramel and vanilla to go around. It is slightly higher in proof at 94 (regular Maker’s is 90 proof), and that does include a bit more bite and burn, but the wheat comes through and it is still very enjoyable to drink straight, sans ice, though a cube or two would not go amiss. The flavor is classic Maker’s with an extra level of something, something. A bit more richness. A bit more savoryness. A touch of deeper character and flavor integration. It is hard to put your finger on but it is without a doubt there. Maker’s 46 is, in short, a true whisky drinker’s whisky.