Class: Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Wheated)
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
As of 2016, Maker's Mark bourbon was the highest selling bourbon in my state. The label and signature red wax seal are well known throughout the world, and the marketing folks behind the brand have done a great job of positioning it as an entry bourbon to the "premium" range. Most of you likely know of someone who orders a Maker's Mark when they want something more classy than Jack or Jim.
The Maker's Mark distillery became formally known as such in the 1950's, and has been ran by the family of Bill Samuels since then, although it has changed ownership several times and is currently governed by spirits giant Beam-Suntory. The distillery is nestled into a beautiful area in Loretto, Kentucky, where you'll find the still house, visitor's center, aging warehouses, and bottling line all on site. Besides the flagship bourbon, Maker's Mark also produces a cask strength release, and has recently begun experimenting with several releases using custom oak stave inserts its its barrels.
- Made from a mash that uses wheat instead of rye grain: 70% corn, 16% red winter wheat, 14% malted barley.
- No age statement, but commonly accepted to be approximately 6 years old.
- Bottled at 45% ABV (90 proof).
Nose: This is about as standard of a bourbon aroma as you can get. Plenty of corn and vanilla sweetness, with a surprising amount of oak mingled in. Some subtle fruits underneath - cherry, maybe alittle orange.
Palate: Vanilla and young wood. Like a green sapling. The oak here is borderline-dominant. Candied cherry and maybe alittle coconut underneath. Low heat. Soft, light, and mellow mouth feel. Almost velvety.
Finish: More oak that comes across with alittle sweetness but becomes fairly tannic as it lingers.
Buying Recommendation: Don't spend your money on it. Remember, its not like a score of 60 is a failing grade. This whisky is incredibly average. It's unconfrontational and unchallenging, but also unrewarding. Its easy enough to drink if nothing more interesting is available, but when you're in the bourbon aisle at your local store you can find a much more flavorful bottle for $25-35. If you really want Maker's, splurge for the cask strength version.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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