Tag Archives: Maker’s Mark

Distillery Tour: Maker’s Mark

Meet me at Maker’s? That is the current Twitter and Instagram hashtag. Social media campaigns aside, a meeting at Maker’s isn’t such a bad idea. It’s really a gorgeous place. Now, if you are heading to Maker’s then most likely you are coming from Bardstown. If you aren’t, then you should. Bardstown is a lovely little slice of Kentucky and the spiritual home of bourbon.

Getting to Maker’s Mark from Bardstown is relatively simple. Head south out of Bardstown on KY 49 until you hit Loretto. Just so you know, saying Maker’s Mark is in Loretto is a bit of a misnomer. That’s the postal address and closest town but the distillery feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. From KY 49 head east on KY 52 and then left on Burks Spring Road. By the time you’ve gotten this far there are plenty of signs to lead you in.

My recent trip to Maker’s was my first in many years. A lot had changed as the brand, and bourbon in general grew in prominence. Arriving today, you park in the main parking lot up hill from the distillery and then walk to the entrance to the visitor’s center. It is a pretty glass fronted white building with “TOURS” written large so all can see.

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This was added to the old home on premise and the two connect. You can wait in some of the rooms of the old home, which are beautifully maintained, pending your tour.

After a brief wait your tour number will be called. There is usually coffee and sometimes snacks to enjoy while you wait. From the main house you head down a trail and stop outside the main distillery building. You will get the usual tour guide instructions pertaining to safety, photography, and history of the distillery. You will get a nice rendition of family history going all the way back to T.W. Samuels and his cousins Frank and Jesse James, yes that Frank and Jesse. Current ownership by Beam and then Suntory is downplayed a bit but they don’t hide it. Regardless of your opinion of the owners, the distillery facilities and tour is much improved over the days before they were bought.

Going into the distillery you see things in a bit of reverse order. First, you encounter the gleaming spirit stills img_1080

before going past one of the three 11,421.5 gallon mash tubs. img_1082

Maker’s does the first distillation (low wines) to a proof of about 120 proof (60% ABV) and then second distillation (high wines/white dog) come off at around 130 proof (65% ABV). This is cut to 110 proof before entering the barrel. After the distillation talk you move on to the fermenting tanks. Maker’s has 62 make from Douglas fir. img_1087

Here you are inviting to sample from several of the washes under fermentation to taste the flavor developing over time. Average fermentation is about three days and it’s neat to taste the differences over that fermentation period.

After see fermentation it is on to see where the original labels were printed and cut along with a collection of commemorative bottles. From there you head over to the warehouse for the most wonderful smell in the world…aging whiskey.

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After a brief overview of how bourbon aging work courtesy of your guide then you can take a look at the extra stave process that goes into turning Maker’s Mark into Maker’s 46. From here you head over to the bottling facility to see where they still bottle onsite and hand dip each one of those red wax (plastic now) tops.

By this point an experienced (or novice) whiskey tourist is getting a bit thirsty. Luckily for you the next stop is the tasting room. As you sit on stools at long wooden tables a tasting is already set out for you.

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You are led through Maker’s White (distillery only white dog), Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46, and finally the new-ish Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. All of these were fine drinks but the Cask Strength did it for me.

After the tasting you are led out through a corridor surrounded by slumbering Ambassador barrels on all sides and an amazing ceiling of colored blown glass by artist Dale Chihuly that is pretty awe inspiring.

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Conveniently you come out into the gift shop. I’ve been in my fair share of distillery and other tour gift shops but I have to say that Maker’s is pretty impressive. You have damn near anything you can imagine made out of barrels and assorted whiskey paraphernalia. If you want, you can dip your own bottles to take home. Also, the distillery just released a cask strength Maker’s 46 that as of right now you can only get in the gift shop.

The tour at Maker’s is one of the best in Kentucky. It really is worth a stop regardless if you are a new bourbon drinker or an old hand. It offers something for even the most experienced distillery tourist. Just don’t worry if you are only halfway there and you are wondering “where the hell am I”. Hold the course and meet someone at Maker’s.

Location: Maker’s Mark Distillery, 3350 Burks Spring Rd, Loretto, KY 40037.
Tour Cost: $9 for the basic one hour tour, additional experiences are available for $25 with pre-booking.
Mashbills: 1 Mashbill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Barley
Barrels: Independent Stave New Oak Char #3
Retail Whiskey: Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
Distillery Exclusive Whiskey: Maker’s 46 Cask Strength, Maker’s Mark White

Maker’s 46 Cask Strength

Maker’s 46 Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
55.4% ABV
$40 (per 375ml)
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Right now they don’t. Not a peep. This bottling is a distillery gift shop exclusive at this time. This was a similar distribution pattern to Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. Let’s hope this one goes on to larger distribution too.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Sweet oak, vanilla, lovely baking spices (cloves, cinnamon) over butterscotch.
Palate: Nice rich mouthfeel, warm and sweet caramel with nutmeg and cinnamon, with a hint of fruitcake.
Finish: Moderately long and wet.
Comments: Wow – this is really tasty stuff. I’m not a huge fan of Maker’s 46, but this really shines at cask strength. At one sitting while nosing it reminded me of dusty bourbon (that butterscotch note). Much more robust on the nose and palate, and pleasantly spicy without being “sharp”. My only complaint is the price. I get that there aren’t many cask strength wheated bourbons out there (and one of my favorites – Old Weller Antique 107 – has gotten harder to come by these days), but if this was $50 for a 750 mL – I’d be all over it. At nearly that for half a bottle, I’ll absolutely enjoy it when someone else is offering, but not rushing out to pick one up.
Rating: Stands Out / Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Wow this one wears the proof on its sleeve. Water brings out a more woody, vanilla forward nose.
Palate: This is great in the mouth. It’s warm and spicy with a dry back sweetness. Dusted with cinnamon and sweetened cocoa powder.
Finish: This finishes a little hot and peppery.
Comments: Yes this is a bit pricey for the half bottle. However, when Maker’s Mark Cask Strength first came out it was priced high for a half too. As distribution and demand grew the bottles became full size and the price normalized a bit. Regarding the actual bourbon in the bottle I will say that it is good. I’m always glad to see more wheated and cask strength bourbon on the market. This checks off both of those. However, I do like the regular Maker’s Mark Cask Strength more. In a lower proof I prefer the 46 but at cask strength this is more wood dominated. A nice extension of the line but I prefer the other cask strength option.
Rating: Stands Out

Weller Special Reserve

W.L. Weller Special Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aged 7 Years

45% ABV/90 Proof
$10 – $20
Website

What the Distillery Says:
The Original “Wheated” Bourbon Whiskey
Replacing the rye grain in our recipe with wheat provides for an exceptionally smooth taste. And at 7 years of age and “Kentucky proof”– 90 proof, W. L. Weller is a truly outstanding buy.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Weller always comes across with honeysuckle sweetness, crisp apples, and black peppercorns.
Palate: Bourbony? :) It’s not very sweet but it’s nicely balanced with oak, caramel, vanilla, and a peppery spice at the end of the palate that runs into the finish.
Finish: Crisp and a little spicy. The spice hangs around through the end of the finish.
Comments: Confession time, I’ve had a really hard time coming up with review notes for this one. It’s not that Weller Special Reserve isn’t distinctive. Rather, I use this specific bourbon in a lot of the cooking I do. As a result, most of the notes I originally came up with are reminiscent of my bourbon meatballs, pecan pie, or bourbon cream cheese frosted red velvet cake. I use is so much because it’s a mellow and pleasing bourbon that works well with food. Think about this alternative the next time you’re in the store and you’re reaching for a bottle of Maker’s Mark. Plus, if you look hard enough you may find it for almost half the price. 😉
Rating: Stands Out, Great Value

Event Notice: Steak, Cigars, & Beam Global

New York Prime looks to be kicking off their spirit pairing dinners again this year. The first offering is sponsored by Beam Global and includes a spectrum of their products.

Where: New York Prime 3424 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 100, Atlanta, GA 30326
When: Sunday, May 22nd at 7PM
Intro: Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Cigar with Maker’s Mark
First Course: Chopped Italian Salad with Red Stag
Second Course: 16oz New York Strip with Creamed Spinach, Creamed Corn, and Knob Creek
Third Course: Key Lime Pie with Courvoisier and Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Cigar
Price: $69
RSVP: 404-846-0644

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Maker’s 46

Maker’s 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whisky
47% ABV/94 Proof
$35 – $40
Available in most U.S. markets

What the Distillery Says:
How It’s Made: Fully matured Maker’s Mark is removed from its barrel. Top hoops are removed from the barrel, and the barrel head is pulled. Ten wooden seared staves are then affixed to the inside of that barrel. Searing the staves caramelizes the sugars in the wood, adding a unique flavor that finishes on the front of the tongue. The fully matured Maker’s Mark is then put back in the barrel and aged several more months. When it tastes exactly right, Maker’s 46 is removed from the barrel, bottled, corked and dipped.
Aroma – Pleasant, sweet, toasty oak nose with caramel overtones. More intense aroma without an alcohol nose.
Taste – Rich, creamy seared-oak flavors; caramel and vanilla notes linger on the front of the palate, but it is still soft enough to hold on the tongue even at 94 proof.
Finish – A big mouth-watering oaky finish. Long with a little spice, staying forward on the palate without the bitter bite found in older whiskies.

What Richard Says:
Nose: The slight increase in proof gives a surprising increase to the alcohol component on the nose. Most likely because standard Maker’s tends to be a delicate bourbon. I apparently disagree with Maker’s on this one (see distillery notes above). There is some oaky sweetness but I’m losing it behind the alcohol.
Palate: Much more oak on the palate than standard Maker’s (as to be expected). Mostly what comes through is caramel, vanilla, and leather.
Finish: This is the part I care for the least. I get an unpleasant woody taste that I can’t quite nail down. The finish on this “finished” bourbon needs work.
Comments: Talk about hoopla. I can’t think of any whiskey in recent memory that was talked about as much or waited for with as much anticipation as Maker’s 46. It’s supposed to be their first new bourbon in 50 years although John Hansell already debunked that myth. Don’t get me wrong, I like this bourbon, I do. I just don’t understand why everyone is falling all over themselves with praise for it. It’s better than standard Maker’s Mark but it’s not the Bourbon of the Gods or anything. It’s really just finished standard Maker’s…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Scotch has been doing that for some time with varied results. If you like Maker’s then you’ll like this. If you’re on the fence about Maker’s then you might like this. If you don’t like bourbon at all, this isn’t going to convert you.
Rating: Average, although better than standard Maker’s Mark

What Matt Says:

Matt has not had a chance to review this whiskey yet.