Maker's Mark has been making only one bourbon for more than fifty years.
Unlike other business executives concerned with growth, the owners felt that the bourbon was the best that it could be, so what would be the point of selling another? The introduction of Maker's 46 was meant to be thought of, not as an entirely new bourbon, but as a new interpretation of the classic whiskey.
Master Distiller Bill Samuels told GAYOT that his goal was "...to ramp up the flavor intensity, but keep the same flavor profile. The challenge was how to ramp up flavor without an increase in tannic acid. We wanted to be able to hold it on the tongue without biting." The solution to keep the acids out came from a cooper.
And what was the basis of the new bourbon? Matured Maker's Mark! The product follows the same production path and aging process as the original until a winemaking process is employed: after emptying the barrel, additional staves of seared French oak are threaded on a dowel which is drilled into the sides. Searing the wood caramelizes the sugars therein, creating a unique flavor on the front of the tongue. The whiskey is then poured back in the enhanced barrel to age a few months.
It smells of baking spices, baking flour and cream, though it surprises with a very oaky taste. This punchiness is exactly what it needs to stand up in a stirred cocktail — there’s a few caramel notes reminiscent of Coca-Cola, but in a good way.
In its Master Collection releases, Woodford Reserve often changes its barrels in order to create a different flavor profile in a limited release. This similar technique works well in this case, and it's a good thing, as Maker's is hoping that this second offering will be around for a long time. We're looking forward to trying the third Maker's Mark bourbon, which at the current pace should be released around 2062.