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In a previous review (connosr.com/reviews/makers-mark/…), I gave some background on Maker’s Mark, the most well known wheated bourbon on the market. The brand has changed very little over the years—mainly substituting other colors for the famous red wax seal for “festive” releases—and the recipe for the whisky itself has not changed. To make the new Maker’s Mark 46, barrels of what would ordinarily be standard Maker’s Mark are dumped and refitted with additional seared oak staves suspended by two dowels. The barrel is then filled back with the dumped whiskey and put back in the rickhouse to age for a few months longer. (Those familiar with Compass Box’s The Spice Tree will recognize this sort of practice.)
On the nose are notes of light brown sugar, a touch of rye (yes, even though it’s wheated), honey, walnuts, butter, cocoa, menthol, and chocolate donuts. It is creamy—more so than the standard release—and specifically reminiscent of vanilla fudge.
The palate is sweet and smoother than the standard Maker’s Mark (though it is still a bit hot and astringent). It has hints of walnut, yeast, and a touch of spice.
Despite an arguably small change in the way this version of Maker’s Mark is produced, the result of the additional staves and maturation time is a surprising, and significant, improvement over the standard release. Unfortunately, it is typically priced as such. I would sooner buy the 46 release over the standard one, but I can again imagine any number of bourbons of similar or better quality for a better price. It is, in any case, still worth trying.