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While on a recent trip to Winnipeg, I was thrilled to find exclusive bottlings of both Maker's Mark Private Select and Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye. I'll write up the Knob Creek another time, but let's check out their Maker's. This barrel has been oaked with the following staves:
2 Baked American Pure 2 3 Seared French Cuvee 2 Maker's 46 2 Roasted French Mocha 1 Toasted French Spice
Let's see how this holds up next to a Maker's 46 and a standard Maker's Mark.
The colour is a reddish copper. On the nose we have big coffee / mocha aromas (like the cafe near my office that roasts their own beans). Tobacco smoke. Nutmeg and paprika. Slightly burnt buttered toast. Hickory. Lots of different oak notes going on, but none of them are overpowering (and harmonize well with each other). Black cherry and blueberry. Hint of sandalwood. Water accentuates some cotton candy and peppery arugula. Toasty and with loads of spice. Excellent nose.
On the palate there is more cherry with heavier oak, cigar smoke, cayenne pepper and something like a heavy shiraz. Mouth-coating and chewy. Both oakier and spicier with water. Rich, luxurious and delicious.
The finish is oaky with black pepper, cloves, mint and more black cherry. Well, those Manitoba liquor buyers know what they are doing. This is fantastic bourbon with complex wood notes (without too much straight-up heavy oak) and lots of spice, while remaining easily drinkable at that high ABV. Stunning. Next to the Maker's 46, it is both lighter and more complex; the standard Maker's is lighter than the 46 (approaching the Manitoba bottle) but lacks the huge complexity. Of course - they are all great bourbons.