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Maker's 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whisky

Double Down Gamble Pays Off: Maker's Mark Introduces a Spinoff Bourbon, Maker's 46

A bottle of Maker's 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whisky

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? But this year they will double their product line with the introduction of Maker's 46. Think of it not as an entirely new bourbon, but as a new interpretation of the classic whiskey.

Master Distiller Bill Samuels told that his goal was " 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 is the basis of the new bourbon? Matured Maker's Mark! The new 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.

Says Samuels, "Like a Pittsburgh-style steak is charred to lock in flavors, charring the staves lock tannins in. The process adds a little spice, not bitterness, while magnifying vanilla and caramel flavors."

We wholeheartedly agree that the caramel and vanilla flavors shine through despite the higher alcohol content. Maker's 46 is being released at 94 proof as opposed to the original's 90. We found the taste stronger than its older brother, but there is no alcohol in the oaky nose or burn during the long, satisfying finish. Overall, the spirit seems more mature and complex than its namesake. We found no need for ice or water, let alone a mixer, to enjoy it.

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.

by Jeff Hoyt

Price: $35
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