Loretto

Review: Maker's Mark 101 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50.5%
Aging
New Charred Oak
Recipe
70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley
Distiller Maker's Mark (Loretto, Kentucky)

The founder of Maker’s Mark, Bill Samuels Senior, always liked the flavors released at 101 proof in Maker’s Mark bourbon. He would set it aside for special occasions. The distillery, in turn, offered this whisky to guests who visited Maker’s Mark – but now, they’ve put forward a broader release. I’ve always liked Maker’s at higher proofs – Maker’s 46 (granted, it’s a bit different in profile) and the cask strength releases.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L1123MMB 06231 1041

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

Maker’s Mark, through and through here – bright fruit (dried apricot, cherry, plum), corn, toffee, and all sorts of dessert-like characteristics. It’s quite sweet – the caramel just booms on the nose. Very nice, refined grain notes in the background….the palate follows – relatively soft for a 50% bourbon – rich and with a great mouthfeel. The finish jumps up with some berries, toffee, and sweet oak before fading into spices.

Pretty much what you’d expect for a higher proof Maker’s – all the core characteristics, concentrated a bit more. Perhaps, not as hot as you might expect given the jump in ABV.

A bit pricy at $100! I suppose, relative to where bourbon has been – on a quality basis against Scotch, this would be par for the course.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average at $100. There are certainly better buys in bourbon, but this isn’t disappointing either against whisky in general.


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

Maker's 46 bourbon 2.jpg
ABV
47%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley
Distiller Maker's Mark (Loretto, Kentucky)

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.

What makes this whisky special is the wood, and it was developed as a joint project between Maker’s Mark and the owner of Independent Stave Company, which supplies most of the barrels for the big Kentucky distilleries. The whiskey starts as standard Maker’s, with a recipe of 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley, and goes into barrels at 130 proof (65%). After about 6-6.5 years, the head is taken off the barrel and the whisky is taken out, and 10 seared French oak staves are put in the barrel and it is further matured. French oak is different than American oak in the flavour it provides, giving a bit more spice and dried fruit character and less vanilla. It is also bottled at a bit higher proof, 47%, giving a bit more flavour (or value, depending on if you add water!).


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Very nice. There’s a nice bit of oak in the background – with wonderful spice notes – cinnamon hearts and cardamom – amidst a rich corn backbone with a butterscotch note that grows with time. There’s caramel, light fruit (fresh apricot, peaches, pineapple, honeydew melon), apricot jam, and even a touch of dark chocolate. There’s a bit of an elegant, silky feel to the nose which I quite like. It’s close to a better score, but at times there are wafts of bitterness and harshness which detract from the nose significantly, and I keep finding them. The wheat notes, also, seems to grow with time.

Taste: A bit of a drawing, almost acidic entry (very engaging) – brimming with cinnamon before oak starts to take the reins with some dried fruit (raisins and dried apricot) and some woody earthiness. This one is a fair bit different than the standard Maker’s. It has more cinnamon, raisins, more tannins, and is dryer and spicier. The tannins almost seem to encroach upon advancing the bitterness too far – but it’s fairly well done. The sweetness level is just about right, too – and there is nice, controlled, defined movement. Lots of honey and tobacco too. Delicious.

Finish: Nice and rich corn and oak, with a good bit of spice – largely cinnamon and nutmeg, and some pineapple . Again, compared to the standard Maker’s, it’s much more pronounced, and more broad – with more cinnamon, mint, even a bit of cardamom. Again, coming close too over-doing the oak bitterness – but it’s just short of too much, I find. It certainly has decent length.

Richer and a bit more intense than the standard Maker’s, but very drinkable. The nose is a better, but I find that the delivery treads too closely to having too much wood-derived bitterness, as does the finish. However, I do like it a tad bit better still, and it seems that if not for a few out of place bitter notes, this one would be up a bit more – but it’s still very well done. It’s really too bad about the off-notes in the nose – I think it would really up the experience if they were not there.

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

Value: High, at $62.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code:  N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

This is very woody, but very floral – roses, potpourri, dried lilac – and vegetal too, with touches of spinach – oddly enough. But we still have a rich, buttery corn body with much less wood than one might guess from the nose. There is a heavy floral character and lots of dried fruit. Very well put together, with some attractive nut and corn oils on the finish. A touch soapy, too.

I like to keep a wheated bourbon in my collection. The Weller 12 used to be it, but it is too hard to find these days. This one I like, but it’s so broadly oaked that it isn’t necessarily representative – I suppose Larceny might be the way I’ll go next time.

But, this is still very nice. I’ve had a number of barrel picks bottled at cask strength, but, compared side-by-side when watered down to the same proof, this one actually outperforms most of them in my opinion. Very few whiskies can balance such a variety of oak flavours and influences without being over-oaked or losing the distillate. Very nice.

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

Value: Very high at $65.


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

Makers+Private+Select+1.jpg
ABV
55.2%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
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.

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

ABV
56.7%
Aging
New Charred Oak
Recipe
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.