Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thick, Rounded & Voluptuous – Maker's 46

Maker's 46
Summer is well and truly here and I have been holding onto this sucker for sometime now. I love my bourbons in the humid summer months. Clearly then I have been patiently waiting to crack the wax seal on my Maker’s 46, sit on the deck, and sip away though the Christmas break. This is my last Dramcember post as well with the new year now in full swing. The wait was well worth it.

At a glance this is much more sophisticated bottle than the more squat Maker’s Mark we are used to seeing. The wax seal noticeably heavier is almost draping like a velvet cloak down over the seal. The glass is thick, rounded, heavily based and voluptuous. Certainly being quite a looker as bottle styles go, it displays its booty gloriously. No paper label either, with rather with printing directly onto the glass and a wax logo floating towards the neck. I like it!

Reading the glass printed label you will be quick to notice the ABV is at 47%. Here in Australia it is often found the bourbons that grace our shelves are watered down variations of the US releases. Regularly reasoning sighted for this is that our taxes on liquor make imports overly expensive. Maker’s Mark is one of those such bourbons that see a cut in the ABV, down from 45% to 43% and now to 40%. I have been quoted twice now by Maker's Marks reps here in Australia (the last being in 2013), that Australia consumes sum 40%+ of the yearly quota the distillery produces. This level of consumption adds to the requirement to make it stretch a bit further globally. If you would like to try the original Maker’s Mark at 45% ABV head over to the online Aldi Liquor store to make a 1L purchase for $56.85AU.

So what makes Maker’s 46 so different form the standard release? Finishing. Yes even a bourbon can be finished and why not. In this case we see Maker’s 46 gently finished in barrels containing seared French Oak staves. The staves are inserted into the inner cavity of barrels previously seasoned with bourbon, then refilled with Maker’s Mark. The barrels are then warehoused and left to age for several months during the winter period. The introduction of French oak imparts a much bolder, spicier, complex flavour profile. It is assumed that with the ageing during the winter months the wood reacts in more subtle ways, leaving a lot of the earthy bitter tannins found in French Oak behind.

Thick wax seal, suspended logo, and printed glass
Maker’s 46
Distiller: Maker’s Mark
Region / Location: Kentucky, USA
Alcohol/ ABV: 47%
Finish: Toasted French Oak Stave Inserts

Colour: Rusty nails

Nose: Elements of the typical Maker’s Mark wheats are present but now only part of flavour facet. Rich vanilla oaks, touches of dried fruits and cranberries topped with hints of wet wood coals.

Taste: Bold (and I don’t use that term loosely). Rich oaky vanillas, dried apricots and dense spices. Marginally tacky with a light mouth chew.

Finish: Long and spicy that leaves a little coal fire in the chest while the sweetness lingers on the tongue.

Overall this is a great bourbon and an obvious step up from the standard release of Maker’s Mark. The spiciness and sweetness is clear and lingering well on after a sip. Don’t mistake the term spicy with which you get in a rye whisky either. The rich vanillas and caramels do need this added spice the french oak delivers. It is neither dry not bitter.

If I was to give a dram 5 3/4 out 7. The package as a whole is lovely though dragging it down is the price which is nearing $70AU a bottle. That is asking a lot unfortunately but we cannot do a lot about our alcohol taxing system. Counter the comment about price our local retailer runs out of stock on a very very very regular basis so its popularity is solid I am guessing. It is a sipping whisky and you will enjoy it.

I say go try it if you like your bourbons but would appreciate a twist and turn to a staple classic.

The Baron