In March, I spoke with Maker’s Mark Master Distiller Kevin Smith about the launch of the new Maker’s 46 bourbon. Skip forward a few months, and Maker’s 46 has officially launched, hitting store shelves July 1st. The release of Maker’s 46 marks two important points: 1) this is the first new Maker’s Mark product ever, and 2) I can finally stop nursing the sample I received in March.
Maker’s 46 starts out as regular Maker’s Mark bourbon, but at the point when the whiskey is typically bottled, it’s instead put into a holding tank while aged, seasoned oak staves are inserted into the original barrel. The bourbon is then poured back into the barrel, now fitted with oak staves, and left to age for two to three more months until it reaches the flavor that Smith and President Bill Samuels set out to achieve when creating the Maker’s 46 flavor profile.
The profile they wanted was one of warmth and spiciness, but with the traditional bourbon sweetness and forward finish. I’d say they hit what they aimed for, as Maker’s 46 is just that – spicy, with more of a bite than the original, but with all the characteristics of the original that Maker’s Mark fans expect.
Maker’s 46 is 94 proof, a slight increase from Maker’s Mark, which clocks in at 90 proof. On the nose, it’s warm and toasty with some baking spices—like cinnamon and nutmeg—that remind me of the holidays. Vanilla and caramel are also noticeable. On the palate, Maker’s 46 is spicy and biting, in a good way, and still soft enough to hold on the tongue. The toasted oak notes are very apparent, but they work within the whiskey, rather than dominate the flavor. The signature Maker’s forward finish remains, but adds some spiciness as the flavor lingers on the tongue.
All in all, Maker’s 46 is quite good, and while it starts its life as original Maker’s Mark, it’s certainly different enough to warrant this new product. The toasty spiciness will appeal to drinkers seeking a more aggressive bourbon, but the vanilla and caramel notes, along with that forward finish, should secure the allegiance of fans of the original.
– 47% Alcohol by Volume
CE Rating: ★★★★