“Nothing is so musical as the sound of pouring bourbon for the first drink on a Sunday morning. Not Bach or Schubert or any of those masters.”
- (Lula) Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands.
Last week I was down in Tucson, AZ for a few days visiting grandfather who is near the end of his life. Knowing that I would be seeing my father, who was already down there, I was sure we would be picking up something special from the local liquor store in the area. Since I rarely get a chance to see my father, much less enjoy a bottle with him, and since this was a rather unique “vacation” where a large toast seemed appropriate, I thought I would be able to get something more unique than the usual tipple to share with him (though as I think about it, we never seem to settle for the "usual tipple" anyway). Yet apparently in Tuscan the only place to find a brown spirit is in grocery stores and Walgreens, meaning a very mediocre selection. After a few failed attempts we finally came across Maker’s Mark 46. Sitting next to Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam White, Maker’s 46 was the most unique selection in the place. Not to say that I have anything wrong with it. I have in fact really wanted to review this bourbon, and while I am not a huge fan of the standard Maker’s Mark (solid bourbon, just a bit too easy-drinking for me), I have heard good things about the 46.
This version is not simply a longer aged bourbon of the original Maker's, rather it receives additional aging in barrels with internal French oak staves that have been seared, not charred. To note, using inner staves has been banned by the Scottish Parliament and will most likely make its way into the EU (according to John Lamond). This somewhat solidifies the bourbon as a bit experimental. And I can positively say that this is how I like to enjoy Maker’s. If anything, I can say this presentation balances out what I felt was too dominant of flavors – the vanilla and caramels. This is a big bourbon while still keeping up with the Maker’s signature profile.
Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon Review:
Price: Around $34 for a 750ml bottle.
Packaging/Labeling: This expression really looks good. Maker’s did a superior job on the bottle design, clean, neat, with a pleasant modern touch for the first new expression in 50 years. The only issue I would take with the design is that I would have preferred a description of the product on the bottle, rather than having to check out the website.
Alcoholic Content: 47% abv, 94 proof.
Nose: Cinnamon and spice with thick cut oak. Nice vanilla and dried apricot. Light cherry and cola.
Tasting: Red Hots come right through developing into cinnamon and nutmeg. Sweet dried apricot. Some dark red fruits. Ends with maple and butterscotch.
Conclusion: This is a solid bourbon and I must say I am a little surprised at how much I like this. I was expecting so much of the original Maker's to come through, and it did, but only in parts. And, I would suggest, only the best parts. With the higher alcohol strength and the addition of the internal wood staves I would definitely recommend this.
As a last note: even though this is a true line, and not a limited edition, from what I have heard, Maker's 46 might find itself in short supply in the near future simply based on the fact that this is a new product and Maker's will not be able to keep up with supply as it is going.