Sold only at the Maker’s Mark gift shop, this cask strength expression of Maker’s 46 was released in Fall of 2015 and is sold in 375ml bottles with zero shits given in regards to the label, which is white with plain black text. You would think a company that dips all their bottles in colored wax would care about something like that, but whatever.
While I haven’t been to their gift shop in a couple years, a buddy of mine was and picked up a bottle and was kind enough to give me a sample for this review. Thanks Zed, you’re a nice man. He also gets the photo cred for the header pic.
So, after breakfast on a peaceful Sunday morning, I busted out our new bottle of Maker’s 46, this sample, and went to work writing both of them up. You can see my take on the normal 46 here.
Company: Beam Suntory
Distillery: Maker’s Mark
Mash bill: 70% corn/16% wheat/14% malted barley
Age: NAS (5-6 years + 3 months for the French Oak finish)
ABV: 55.3% (110.6 proof)
Released: Fall 2015 (Distillery Gift Shop exclusive)
Price: $40 (375 ml)
Color: Deep honey
Nose: Huge caramel and candy apple notes like the normal proof version, but they are overpowering and make it hard to pick anything else out. The higher proof seems to amp up the caramel, but leaves some of that cherry and vanilla behind, and it’s ultimately a little to hot on the ethanol side and takes a while to really open up.
Taste: The cherry and vanilla aren’t lost on the palate, they’re here and in full force. Like the regular expression, they blast in first and are backed up by rich vanilla and oak. The overpowering sweetness is tamed and is balanced out by that oak and black pepper.
Finish: The candy comes back in a big way early. There is still oak, black, pepper, and honey, and ultimately the dry oak lingers, but it doesn’t come in as quick as in the regular proof. The balance here falls a bit out of whack towards the oak side of things as it lingers, and leaves you high and dry.
Overall: This is a tough one. While there are aspects that are great, others fall out of whack when that barrel proof-ness amps of some flavors but not others. Overall I still give it an edge over the normal 46 just due to the balance being much better since that oak is more present. I think there could be a great, happy medium between the two where I got more of the aroma from the regular 46, taste of the cask strength, and a finish right in between the two.
I thought a little bit of micro vatting could achieve this, so I gave that a shot with the little bit of cask strength sample I had left. I tinkered with it for a while and ended up with a 50/50 blend hitting the sweet spot for me. This puts it right around 102 proof, lets the aroma shine, keeps the taste rich in flavor, and balances out that finish. Hey Maker’s Mark, feel free to roll out Maker’s 46: Kris’s Blend whenever you need a new product!