Makers Mark Bourbon Whisky (700ml)
Maker's Mark is the world's only bourbon made in small quantities of less than twenty barrels per batch. 'Which means', we are told, 'that the distillers have time to be choosy.' Indeed, the producers attention to detail and commitment to quality is legendary, and on a value/quality basis Maker's Mark must out rank almost every other bourbon on the market.
The brand leapt out of obscurity in 1980 after the Wall Street Journal published a front page story on the history of the distillery. Suddenly everyone wanted to try it. Unfortunately, Makers Mark was only producing 38 barrels a day - as opposed to the industry standard of 1,300 barrels a day. Small production, however, was the key to the brands success. Since 1953 the Samuels had been steadfast in the belief that making small batches of bourbon at a time, using winter wheat instead of rye would produce a better whisky. Apparently they were correct. As Michael Jackson puts it in his World Guide to Whisky, 'The defining smoothness is achieved, arguably, at the expense of some flavour because Maker's Mark eschews rye in favour for wheat with which to season the palate. This is an accepted alternative way of producing bourbon but few distillers pursue it; Old Fitzgerald is a notable example.' Furthermore, Maker's Mark use an old rollermill instead of a more modern and efficient hammermill to cook the grain because they feel it is less likely to scorch and impart bitterness. They also don't use a pressure cooker to speed up the process, instead preferring an open cooker which allows more aromatics from the air about to penetrate the mash. The new whisky is matured in charred oak casks for a minimum of six years. At first the barrels are placed on the upper hotter floors of the warehouses. Then after several summers they are moved down to the lower, cooler stories. Maker's Mark is a blended whisky, meaning that different aged whiskies are blended together aiming to accentuate the positive characteristics while masking the others. Finally, Maker's Mark is labelled as 'whisky,' (the scotch spelling) rather than 'whiskey'. This is because the owners and their forebears are Scottish. Today, Makers Mark often shows up at White House banquets and has found a particularly strong following in Japan. The distillery itself, dating back to 1889, has been fully restored by Bill Samuels senior and is now a National Historic Landmark.
Tasting note: Deep amber polished brass appearance. Toasted marshmallow and vanilla in the first sniff. Opens up further with dusty cocoa, new leather and dilute maple syrup like flavours while hints of spicy rye add freshness. Firm, dryish delivery offers controlled sweetness with vanilla, dilute maple syrup and manuka honey flavours. Concludes mildly peppery and with minty rye dominating the finish. Milder than what it used to be, but more rye input too, especially on the finish. 40% Alc./Vol.
Other reviews... Rich, brilliant amber hue. Sweet caramel, pecan pie, and brown spice aromas have a perfumed fruity edge. A silky enty leads to a dry medium-to full-bodied palate with rich roasted nuts, salt, dried fuits, dark caramel, tea leaves, and pepper spice. Finishes with a bold but balanced wave of heat and spice. Very nice. International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal
Rating: 90 points (Exceptional) - tastings.com
Nose: Aroma with delightful strands of exotic fruit and honey. Fruit cake. Oak adds to feeling of class. Palate: Lush, pleasingly deep and malty. A firm nuttiness adds extra oily, chewability to the toffee. Finish: Drier than of old. Caramel toffee with the oak guarantees a bittersweet edge. Comment: An old faithful of a bourbon. Never lets you down and being from the wheaty school always shows good oak balance. Nose is to die for. Rating: 8.5 Click here to read more about Bourbon.
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