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Maker's Mark

The Catcher Sans the Rye

1 981

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

30th Aug 2017

0

  • Nose
    19
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    19
  • Balance
    21
  • Overall
    81

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This is an abbreviated version of an entry I posted on my blog today. Go there for bonus content, like an Elvis video

Maker's Mark. The red wax seal, the squarish bottle. It's a very popular bourbon. I'd never had a proper wheated bourbon before, so when I saw this one on sale, I bought it. Here are my thoughts.

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): vanilla, brown sugar,oak
  • Palate (undiluted): medium bodied, slightly waxy, lots of vanilla, coconut notes, brown sugar, toasted oak and toasted marshmallows
  • Finish: medium length, icing sugar, vanilla and toasted marshmallows

Adding water to Maker's Mark toned down some sweetness but didn't really bring forth any new notes. Adding ice toned down some of the oakiness and allowed the vanilla and marshmallow notes to shine through. I wasn't crazy about using Maker's Mark in an Old Fashioned. I prefer higher rye bourbons or straight rye whiskies for that particular task. This whiskey was simply too "nice" to make its presence known in a cocktail.

To be perfectly honest, I was a bit disappointed when I first tried Maker's Mark. I'm a fan of big, bold flavours such as higher rye whiskies and heavily peated, smoky whiskies. After I adjusted my expectations, however, I found Maker's Mark to be well-crafted and well-presented. It's incredibly creamy and mild for something that's bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV). It can serve as a wonderful introduction to wheated bourbon or served to someone who doesn't like the spicy flavour of rye. My only real complaint (and it's an admittedly subjective one) is the price of Maker's Mark here in Ontario. I purchased my bottle on sale for $42 CAD. It normally sells for $49 CAD. For that price, I can get Knob Creek Small Batch 9 Year Old Bourbon. Now, Knob Creek has a flavour profile I prefer, and my complaint is not really an indictment of the quality of Maker's Mark. There's no sense criticizing J.D. Salinger if you prefer reading Kurt Vonnegut or Cormac McCarthy (and I do). If you temper your expectations of how a bourbon should taste (remember, this is a wheater- no rye) Maker's Mark is a solid addition to your whisk(e)y collection.

I also struggled with scoring this one. My personal enjoyment is a bit lower than this score indicates, but I do feel this is a quality product, if somewhat simple and straightforward

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9 comments

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

Thanks for the review. I've had makers mark once or twice and I get a real distinct note of something that I can't quite put my finger on what it is but I know I do not like it. Maybe that's the wheat component? I've had very limited encounters with Bourbon. Does the wheat impart some particular, distinguishable notes?

2 years ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Alexsweden I've not much experience with wheated bourbons. Is the flavour you don't like mentioned in my review? Perhaps you could ask @Victor about wheated bourbons. He's the resident expert on that front.

2 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Alexsweden, @OdysseusUnbound I am not sure the specific flavour you mean. If you've read me on Connosr on standard Maker's Mark you've seen that I am not much of a fan of standard Maker's as a sipper. Maker's 46 I like much better in that category. I did reviews of both. As relates to wheated bourbons as a group my advice is analogous to that I give to picking out gem-stones: behold the best specimens to learn the genre. Then you can see what they can show you at their best. The problem here is that the best wheated bourbons are so popular that they have become rare and expensive. Nonetheless, what you want to do is to taste some Van Winkles, William Larue Weller, and the wheated bourbon releases of Parker's Heritage Collection. Failing that, taste some W.L. Weller 12 yo, Old Weller Antique 107, and Maker's 46.

FWIW, my first sample of Maker's Cask Strength I found to be relatively disappointing (I did a review) too, though quite a few people seem to be big fans. I look forward to seeing whether a different batch of the CS would make a better impression.

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

I'll go farther and say that I usually find standard Marker's Mark to rather rough as a sipper, with way too big an alcohol greeting, especially considering it is bottled at a paltry 45% ABV. I can show you several bourbons above 70% ABV which are smooth as silk, require no water added, and show nearly imperceptible alcohol. I've had Maker's Mark quite a few times over the years from many different bottles, and it surprises me when I find a sample of it which is smooth and mellow. As a genre, "smooth and mellow" is the general identity of wheated bourbon, until you get to the very high proofs and very long wood exposures, like William Larue Weller. Weller 12 yo and Van Winkle 12 yo (which is, after all Board Certified Weller 12 yo) demonstate the gentle wheater nature well. Another one, even more gentle and not quite as impressive is the Rebel Reserve bourbon.

2 years ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Victor I wish I had saved you a sample of Maker's from this bottle. There was almost no "alcohol greeting" to it at all. My biggest complaint was that it was too soft and friendly. I felt like it kind of disappeared in my mouth. In fact, I've suggested Maker's to some friends of mine who find high rye bourbons too "rough" for their tastes. I'm keeping my eye out for some of the better wheaters you've mentioned.

2 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound, yes, I would have enjoyed sampling from your reviewed bottle. There is really quite a lot of variation in batches in most large-circulation whiskeys. I have certainly seen it in Maker's Mark. Sounds Iike it bored you but that I would have liked your bottle more than most I have tried. More than is still not "likes very much". It also sounds like what you really want is a taste of William Larue Weller and Pappy Van Winkle.

It amazes me how much of an old codger I start to sound after being a hard-core whisk(e)y fan for a mere 10 years, but the truth really is that the hobby was a lot more fun when you could get your hands on the top products without paying a scalper's price. I started hustling in a big way in 2010 and put away a lot of allocated American whiskeys. By 2012 the well was drying up big-time. Nowadays the only way I can get the new releases is the occasional favour of the dealers with whom I became friendly before the madness struck, or the rare chance of succeeding in one of the lotteries held by some of the jurisdictions. It is both sad and ridiculous to me that the bottles of Pappy Van Winkle 15 yo which I and others have purchased for $ 65 are now sold on the secondary market for a world average price of $ 1,300. Would I pay anything like that? Hell no! But then I didn't have to 7 years ago.And I do love to drink the stuff.

2 years ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Victor You're probably right. Pappy is impossible to find here and anything with the word "Weller" on the bottle seems to sell out within a few days...You certainly don't sound like an "old codger" to me. I haven't been in the game that long, but it burns me that in a few short years, something like Balvenie 12 Doublewood has gone from $65 to $95. Not as crazy as what you're seeing with PVW, but then Balvenie is not that hard to find...

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

Free market economy is a beautiful thing... I can't pinpoint what note I was referring to exactly and its been a while since I had makers so I can't even describe it for you. If I have it again I'll take notes but thats doubtful since I didn't like it very much. I would like to try one of the Bourbons you mention @Victor so I could see what they should taste like!

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound, when I started making my Canada runs in 2011 to taste with Connosr buddies, I typically brought with me/us 20+ samples, including of all five of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskeys, Pappy Van Winkle 15 and 20 yo, my favourite rye bourbon, an 18 yo Willett Barrel @69.4% ABV, Abraham Bowman 17 yo @73.75% ABV, and others. As late as May 2016 at the "Ontario Summit" I did still make a point of seeing to it that @mscottydunc and @Nelom (and the rest of the group of 11) got a chance to taste several of those, but I have made the decision that I will no longer bring onto the road for mass tastings large quantities of whiskeys which I may not be able to replace. It is too bad, really. I wish that everyone had the chance to drink products that good.

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

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