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There's something to be said for consistency. Novelty may be more thrilling, but this excitement is always short-lived. The whisky industry seems to worship "innovation" even when it adds nothing of value. Sales can always be higher and everyone wants to be the first to put out that new and exciting expression on the market. "Double Oak", how about "Triple Oak" or "Seven Oak"? Why finish a whisky in one wine cask when we can use 5 different wine casks? Ok, I'm being facetious. While there's nothing wrong with legitimate innovation, producing reliably good whisky seems to be passé, predictable, unexciting even.
Quietly making good whisky seems to be the spirits industry's equivalent of Ned Flanders asking for a "a piece of plain white bread with a glass of water on the side, for dippin'!" Yet not every distillery is jumping on the "put out a new limited edition whisky every other week" bandwagon. Maker's 46 was released in 2010, and it was the first widely-available variation on Maker's Mark since the distillery launched production in 1953.
- Nose: oak-forward, vanilla, candy corn, caramel, brown sugar, cherries, cinnamon
- Palate: rich mouthfeel, oaky, brown sugar, vanilla, a hint of Juicy Fruit gum, a little citrus
- Finish: long, with coconut, caramel, and a bit of a dark chocolate-mocha note, plenty of oak lingering
What was interesting to me was how consistent this was from the first sip to the last drop. I'm not referring to a single glass, but rather the bottle of Maker's 46. Many bourbons (and whiskies in general) seem to evolve over time as the fill level of the bottle changes. Maker's 46 did not. Now that's not a negative thing as I really enjoyed this Maker's with the oak turned up to eleven. Don't get me wrong, there are other flavours and the balance is interesting but it does lean heavily on oak notes. If you don't like oaky bourbons, this isn't the droid, er the bourbon you're looking for.
This doesn't feel like a radical change from bourbon, but context is everything. This is different for Maker's Mark. It's kind of like when Ned Flanders was perceived as a rebel for refusing to shave "the old soup-strainer" when he moved to Humbleton, Pennsylvania. Flanders wasn't really "bad company", but the perception of his do-gooder personality had shifted. If you enjoy Maker's Mark, there's a good chance you'll enjoy Maker's 46. If you find standard Maker's a little tame, you might like this oakier iteration. It's fairly-priced in most areas and it's worth your time.
- Would I accept a glass if it were offered? Yes
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Yes
- Would I purchase another bottle? Probably.