The Charm of a Southern Belle
Deep in the heart of Kentucky, on the banks of Hardin’s Creek, there rests a tiny little burg called Loretto. Aside from downhome charm and quaint Southern beauty, this Marion County ‘city’ offers the world something equally full of heart and character.
That something is Maker’s Mark bourbon.
At once steeped in tradition and forging new paths, the Maker’s distillery is a veritable treasure in the American whiskey scene. The distillery has been producing in its current incarnation since 1954, though under other guises production on site began as early as 1805.
The bourbon we know today is one of premium prestige and affordable approachability.
Maker’s characteristic sweetness, heft (45%) and spice have made it a household name globally, while the bourbon’s unique mashbill (70% corn, 16% red winter wheat and 14% malted barley) allows us a drink that sparkles like a gem in the formidable gold setting that comprises the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The classy addition of the red wax dipped neck makes this a bourbon sans compare.
One final personal bias I have to add…any bourbon known as a ‘whisky’ and not a ‘whiskey’, for some inexplicable reason, also scores an extra point or two from this guy.
Maker’s Mark – New Make Spirit
Details: Clear as a virgin’s conscience. ABV unknown. AKA ‘white dog’ as American new-make spirit.
Nose: Big raw grains and orchard fruit. Mild waxy notes. Somewhat plastic. Foot-like and alcoholic. Lacks the rich fruity dessert notes of mature Maker’s, but the shadow is there.
Palate: Cherry lip balm and grain liquor. Raw and footy. Definitely needs wood influence. The potential is barely recognizable (again…just hints). Finish is primarily corn.
Verdict: A little aggressive. Not in terms of alcoholic bite or anything, but in a somewhat cloying foot odor that is hard to get around. The spice, vanilla and fruit that so characterizes Maker’s Mark is obviously not here yet due to the lack of wood influence. There is something almost plastic-like in this ‘just off the still’ juice. Not for the faint-hearted.
Maker’s Mark – Original Red Seal
Details: Aged between 6 and 7 ½ years. Rich honeyed-amber color.
Nose: Honeyed fruit. Corn and oak. Rich cherry spice and creamy dessert notes. Hint of toffee and vanilla. Mild Cacao. Wax (think lip balm). Just a hint, fleeting, of something sharp and green.
Palate: Oak carries vanilla and spices. Hint of mint. Honeyed grains and cherry. Finish is corn/grain and oaked cherry.
Verdict: Biggest fruity notes of all. Deep and mysterious. Charming as hell. The fruit marries oh so well with the spice and wood and the vanilla tempers everything beautifully. A must have in any whisky cabinet, methinks.
Maker’s Mark – 46
Details: Starts off as standard mature Maker’s Mark aged 6 to 7 ½ years. Seared oak staves are inserted into the cask to add a caramelized sugar depth before the cask is resealed to mature for a few months longer. The ‘46’ refers to the batch experiment that finally ‘made the cut’ so to speak.
Nose: Wax (lypsyl). More caramel and vanilla than standard Maker’s, and a touch less fruit. Healthy hint of maple. Fruity, but less cherry than I would expect from this distillery. Dusty corn. Vanilla and a mild nutmeg.
Palate: Spiced corn and youthful fruit. Fades into throbbing popcorn and fruit-tinged finish. Oak holds on a little too.
Verdict: Beautiful variant on the Maker’s Mark standard. Better? In terms of composition…perhaps a touch. In terms of enjoyment…hmmm…tough call. More mature and mellow anyway. Even a few more months in wood in the Kentucky clime allows for a more mature spirit.
– Notes: Curt
– Photos: Pat (www.standstillphotography.ca)