Review: Maker's Mark Private Select Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (Selected by BC Liquor Stores) by Jason Hambrey

Charred Virgin Oak
70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley
Distiller Maker's Mark (Loretto, Kentucky)

These Maker’s Mark private selections are fantastic. It is like a customized Maker’s 46 (which I quite like), but at cask strength with custom staves. The whisky is made by putting aged Maker’s Mark into barrels with 10 custom staves for 9 months. It is different from Maker’s 46 in two ways – it has a custom set of staves and is bottled at cask strength.

These was selected by BC liquor stores, with a few different staves – 1 baked American pure stave, 3 Maker’s 46 staves, 4 Roasted French Mocha staves, and 2 toasted French spice staves. It’s bottled at cask strength, 55.2% ABV.

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L8235MMC 02252 1521

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Rich, diverse aromas. Corn, cacao, baking spices, rosehips, baking almond cookies, prunes, dried apricot, orange, and some pear. A great, complex nose - and it’s full of rich, spicy, buttery oak. The palate is big, with a kick of fresh polenta, uncooked basmati rice, layers of oak, more dried fruit, spice, and a nice balancing sweetness. The finish is mostly on oak, but with a fair share of dried fruit as well. Excellent!

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. A nice buy for 100$ CAD, if you want to spend that.

Review: Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Maker’s Mark is a distillery which has been run by the Samuel’s family since 1780. The present distillery was built in 1953 by Bill Samuels after prohibition. Though his family had been in the business for some time, the whisky which was produced was not very drinkable. Bill Samuel’s wanted a return to making whisky, with a slightly different bourbon – a bit lighter and more premium than before.

Read More

Review: Maker's 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Maker’s Mark is interesting in that they only produced one product, produced the same way, but for over 50 years (our standard Maker’s Mark). Until August of 2010, when they released this whisky, Maker’s 46, just before the retirement of Bill Samuel’s Junior, the son of the Bill Samuels who started the Maker’s Mark (as we know it today with new recipes and the famous red wax bottles). The wood going into this is air dried for 12 months (called “seasoning”) which changes the character of the oak – most oak is seasoned in some way, but usually not this long.

Read More

Review: Maker's Mark Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

New Charred Oak
70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley
Distiller Maker's Mark (Loretto, Kentucky)

If you ever make it to Maker’s Mark distillery – an attractive and quite beautiful distillery – they let you dip your own bottles in their signature red wax. It was so with these bottles for me, after a trip down to Kentucky – a bit of a personal touch. However, really the treasure of this bottle has to do with what is inside. This whisky was only released this fall – a surprise, perhaps, for a distillery that has been long known for only having 1 brand (nearly for 50 years, before Maker’s 46 came out in 2010). Initially, it has just been sold in the distillery and in limited quantities elsewhere, but soon it will be a bit more widespread, though, undoubtedly, hard to find. As with other Maker's whiskies, it goes into the barrel at 55%.

The whisky is bottled at cask strength, or 56.7%, so either you’ll get a lot of flavour (in some cases it can be too intense), or you’re looking to add some water to this (not so bad to stretch the bottle out!). This is compared to the 45% that the standard Maker's is bottled at, or the 47% of Maker's 46. Many followers of the distillery are quite happy to see this, as many people find the standard Maker’s bottling a bit light.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: 14-02

  • Bottling Code: L143 221 1951

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Coconut jumps right out of the glass, along with some rich dried corn husks. There’s much more of an elegant feel to this one than to the other Maker’s bottlings – it is rich and very engaging. There are some sweeter fruit notes of pineapple, some rich caramel in the background, and then some apricot jam and marmelade too. Then, there’s also a very nice oaky earthiness which keeps growing – but never takes over. Mint, also is hanging about this one. Brilliant. Though rich and complicated, sometimes there’s a bit of stale bitterness coming up which is too bad.

Taste: Lots of pineapple, and a good kick of dense earthy oak alongside dark chocolate. It is big, but quite controlled and I have no trouble drinking it without any water (though I have had whisky at 86% without the need to add water, so I may not be the typical drinker). Certainly much bigger than the other two Maker’s expressions. There’s some more coconut and a light sweetness to this too – together they remind me a bit of coconut hard candies (which I don’t really like, but I like this here). Just like on the nose, there’s a touch of mint on the end and the sweetness picks up towards the end.

Finish: The oak and earthiness grow, unfolding to some pineapple, vanilla bean (a bit more intense and sweet than the typical vanilla you get), black pekoe tea, caramel, dried corn husks. It has good weight and length. The oak seems to be bordering on too much bitterness but usually doesn’t pass into anything unpleasant. Regardless, the quality is good enough that it doesn’t diminish the finish much.

It is a good whisky, for sure – and a nice take on Maker’s too because it is a much bigger whisky. Though very good, I found it wasn’t quite as balanced and put together as I was hoping. The bitter tang on the finish is unfortunate, but, as you can see from my scores, this really is very nice and, overall, it is an excellent and interesting. Compared to Maker's 46, which I also really like – it is bigger, more tannic, and sweeter. I think my choice between the two is probably mood-dependent over anything – I find 46 to be a bit softer and more elegant than this. Both are very nice, and share some melodies – but both play two very different sorts of music, and at different volumes.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $100/750 ml.