Makers Mark New #46 Bourbon: First Taste
Contrast that allegiance to the original recipe with a few of its rivals such as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Wild Turkey, for example, has six expressions including 80-proof, 86.8-proof, 101, Rare Breed, 8-year old and 12-year old. Woodford has come out with limited run expressions with different barrel finishes like one in which the Bourbon was finished in Sonoma-Cutrer wine barrels for a few months.
Now, Maker's is getting into the act. In a few months, the Loretto, Ky. distiller will launch Maker's Mark "#46," a slightly higher proof Bourbon expression that has been finished in barrels containing toasted oak staves for several extra months of aging. The staves, in fact, are seared on the outside. The result: a Maker's Mark Bourbon with slightly less sweetness and vanilla, and a bit more earthy cinnamon. And while I have read other reviewers comment that they thought #46 was hotter on the tongue than standard Maker's Mark, I had the opposite reaction. #46, to me, is a bit quieter on the tongue and has a smoother finish than regular Maker's despite the higher alcohol content.
This is not a radical departure for Maker's. Indeed, I had to drink both Maker's Mark and Maker's #46 against each other for 15 minutes to formulate my review, and pull out the differences. That's not a huge surprise since #46 has regular maker's at its core. The Bourbon is crafted to the regular Maker's taste profile before it is barreled for the extra finish.
#46 will retail for about $33.00 or roughly 40% more than the original. But it's safe to say that #46 will become the default or de-facto Maker's Mark purchase for some percentage of faithful Maker's Mark drinkers who will come to prefer it to the original.
Maker's Mark President Bill Samuels Jr. and master distiller Kevin Smith says they were not out to "improve" Maker's Mark, but rather to give fans a different way to enjoy the core product. Smith calls #46 "a cousin" to the original.
Here are Samuels and Smith describing the new Maker's Mark expression and how it was created.