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I picked up this bottle at Park Avenue Liquor Shop in Manhattan. I think they started bottling this a couple of years ago. My bottle comes from Batch 15-01 (perhaps the first batch released in 2015). Standard Maker's Mark has always been a favourite so I'm excited about this one!
The colour is a dark, brownish copper. On the nose there is tons of oak, with cinnamon, star anise, baked apples, burnt-out campfire and freshly sawn lumber. Some citrus elements, too, like lemon pith and grapefruit. The vanilla and caramel are subdued, bringing the oak, spice and fruit forward. Slightly buttery. The high proof is there, but it's softer than you would expect; water brings out more wood smoke and anise. Absolutely fantastic.
On the palate - wow! The heat is there but there is serious oak, with brown sugar, more baked apples, leather and dark caramel. Christmas pudding. Damp earth. Maybe a wee bit too much oak (better with water), but still incredibly complex and delicious.
The finish is all cinnamon, star anise, pencil shavings and citrus. Um, this is amazing. Maker's Mark has always been one of my go-to whiskies, and this cask strength release takes it to a whole other level. You have to be OK with the oak, though, as that is the dominant characteristic, despite serious complexity. Luckily (or maybe I planned it this way?) I have the standard Maker's Mark with me. The standard is lighter in colour, has far less oak and wood smoke, but otherwise has many of the same notes, just pitched at a lower frequency. Together, side by side, they are magical.