pouring maker's mark cellar aged into a glass
Maker's Mark

For decades, under the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it philosophy, Maker’s Mark made one whiskey—its flagship bourbon, made the same way since 1953. In 2010, the distillery debuted the extra toasty Maker’s Mark 46, which marked a major turning point for the brand. Since then, Maker’s has been putting out a hits parade of solid expressions, including Maker’s Mark 101, Cask Strength, and its Wood Finishing Series. But throughout it all, one thing has remained consistent: All Maker’s Mark expressions were aged to roughly six years, give or take a few months. All that changes with Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Bourbon, its oldest release to date.

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is a new, limited-release expression that combines 11- and 12-year-old bourbons. To make it happen, barrels of the distillery’s classic distillate spend about six years aging like usual in the company’s warehouses, enduring the Kentucky climate’s famous temperature swings from season to season. After that, the barrels are moved into the distillery’s whiskey cellar for an additional five to six years, before the liquid is blended and bottled.

That cellar is built into a natural limestone shelf, which keeps the temperature consistently cool. This slows down the wood’s impact on the whiskey during maturation, allowing the bourbon to develop a deeper, darker flavor without the tannic bitterness that comes with lengthy oak aging at higher temperatures.

This inaugural release is a marriage of 87% 12-year-old whiskey and 13% 11-year-old whiskey, and it’s bottled at cask strength (115.7 proof). The maturation process will stay the same in years ahead, but the specific blend will always be made to taste, so it may vary based on which barrels are ready.

“For more than 65 years, aging our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did,” said Rob Samuels, managing director at Maker’s Mark. “It’s not that we didn’t believe in it; we simply hadn’t found a way to do it that didn’t compromise on our taste vision – until now.”

The taste vision entails bourbon that is smooth, soft, and creamy, without a bite. With Cellar Aged, Maker’s Mark has found a way to make older whiskey without straying from the flavor profile they’re known for, and the one that fans have come to expect. The bourbon has aromas of dark stone fruits, caramelized sugar, and toasted oak, and the palate brings more fruit, along with dark vanilla, leading to a long finish of caramelized barrel notes and baking spices.

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged hits shelves in the U.S. this September with a suggested retail price of $150. It’s coming to other markets, including London, Munich, and select global travel retail accounts in October, and then making its way into Asia in early 2024. 

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