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Maker's Mark

The Original "Premium" Bourbon

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@dbkReview by @dbk

8th Jan 2012


Maker's Mark
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Maker’s Mark is a “wheated” bourbon, meaning that the “small” grain in the mash is wheat (rather than the more conventional rye). Though Maker’s Mark was not the first wheated bourbon on the market—the Weller brand has laid claim to this honor, but the veracity of this declaration is not at all certain—it was the first “premium” bourbon on the market, in price at least. Without providing even the slightest bit of evidence that it was superior to any other bourbon on the market, the price tag was noticeably higher.

The marketers behind Maker’s Mark (say that three times fast) made the brand famous with the slogan “It tastes expensive... and is.” A strategy to introduce the whisky (spelled without the “e” after Maker’s Mark's own spelling) to traveling businessmen also led to a favorable article in the Wall Street Journal, which arguably launched the brand on the national stage. Now, it is one of the most well-recognized American whisky brands.

The nose is a touch creamy and alcoholic. It has hints of strawberry yogurt, walnuts, butter, cocoa, menthol, and peanut brittle. Despite having no rye in the mash bill, much of it reminds me of the low-rye Beam recipe bourbons, such as Knob Creek. Interestingly enough, Beam Inc. is the current owner of the Maker’s Mark brand.

The palate is fairly astringent and hot, certainly more so than one might expect for a premium bourbon. It is spicy and nutty, with a fair dose of vanilla running throughout. It’s neither complex nor captivating, but it is perfectly drinkable.

Perhaps Maker’s Mark once did taste like an expensive bourbon, just as advertised, and perhaps to many it still does. Nonetheless, with the range and quality of bourbons currently populating the shelves, one could certainly do better with the money a bottle of Maker’s Mark commands. Then again, one could probably also do worse.

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Victor commented

Thank you for a very nice review, @dbk. Maker's Mark has to me a remarkably strong alcohol greeting for being what in my book is a miniscule 45% abv. I don't care for it as a sipper, at all. It is fantastic in cocktails, though. Lots of people like it a lot. Lots of people haven't tried too many bourbons, either.

12 years ago 0

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