Makers Mark Bourbon
Truly: A Maker’s Mark
It’s only appropriate to start this review with what’s synonymous with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, the red wax. Easily the most recognizable feature in the industry; it essentially works as a logo. Compare it to the Nike’s Swoosh logo for instance. If you spot the Swoosh on anything really: shoes, shirts, sweatpants, or backpacks. You attribute that product with the Nike brand. Maker’s Mark has accomplished that same feel with the red wax. Granted they don’t have near the number of products as Nike but who cares, I’ll take the bourbon over the running shoes all day.
I was watching this show my wife regularly watches the other night, “Watch What Happens Live.” I must admit I may have been not giving my full attention to the show. For those of you who have not seen it, no worries; it’s not important for context. Nuts and bolts, I did not care as to what was taking place but in the background; a glass bottle with some red wax on top. No need to read the label, I instantly knew what it was. That’s very powerful in the marketing world, which they seem to be leveraging more and more lately with commercials and an upgraded website. Maker’s Mark’s brand recognition is second to none!
Star Hill Farm: Loretto, KY
Maker’s Mark’s mash bill has been the same for over half a century. Instead of the traditional rye, they use a foundation of red winter wheat. Bill Samuels, when he was determining the mash bill for his bourbon, had 7 candidate recipes. He did not have enough time to distill each one and taste the finished product. Therefore, he baked a loaf of bread out of each one and judged the flavor by the bread. He deemed the loaf with no rye as the best tasting. The ace of spades, Pappy Van Winkle, was also involved.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to take a tour of this distillery on the bourbon trail there are two very distinctive items that stand out. The shiny copper stills and the cypress fermentation tanks. The copper stills look amazing. One would get the impression they actually don’t use them, as good as they look, but I was assured otherwise. Function only made them much more attractive. Now, if you’re the kind of guy that likes the more mature look with some character, set your eyes on the Cypress Fermentation Tanks. According to their website and the people giving the tour, they are literally irreplaceable. Some planks are over 200 years old. I thought these were the coolest part of the tour, trumping the red wax application. Amazing!
That’s correct, I made an entire section for the color of this bourbon. Why, might you ask? It’s not because I wish to write 500 words on the matter, rather it was just that gorgeous. I’ll go on and say it’s sexy! The color deserves its own section. It was primarily Gold with Copper. When I looked the bourbon over and came eye level with the top line of the bourbon in the glass it looked like a golden ring floated on top. Then when I looked down into the glass I thought heck, I have a Midas pool. I’ll throw some cheerios is this and make bank! Bear or Bull market, who cares?!?!?!
Smell and Taste
Maker’s Mark Bourbon has a closed intensity, meaning the flavors don’t necessarily pop right out and differentiate themselves. It’s not a bad thing. The note this bourbon goes for is mellow and smooth. Mission accomplished. The main aromas were oak and raisins. Once I pegged raisins as the primary fruit smell it stood out quite a bit throughout. There was also a decent amount of smoke to mellow out the sweetness nicely.
Upon first taste, the tart fruit taste of a raisin and the oak were most prevalent. Added, due to the taste and smell going hand in hand to help select a couple more, were dark chocolate and leather. At the end you get the smoke although it’s very subtle. The flavor is very mellow. Paired with a thin and smooth mouth feel and this is not difficult to consume.
The finish was pleasant. Aside from being a smooth and clean finish, I was trying to peg an earthy taste that ran throughout. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then it finally hit me. It reminded me of when I was little, growing up in Georgia and every once and a while I’d get my grubby little hands (fat from what was then cocoa pebbles instead of cheerios) on a piece of sugar cane. It’s quite delicious. You can tear off a piece and chew on it. It’s not overly sweet and makes you feel like the salt of the earth!
Forecast: Upcoming Summer Breezes
Siz might choke me out if I don’t reference the summer breeze cocktail. He loves those things. If you ever have the fortune to bump into him out and about, share one with him and you’ll have a friend for life. We discovered this cocktail at a bourbon sampler event. It was Maker’s Mark’s featured cocktail. It’s extremely refreshing and it has an orange slice for garnish. They hand those out at marathons for peat’s sake. It’s holding hands with a V8….well almost.
Recipe: Equal parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon (add more), Ginger Ale, and Orange Liquor. Put on ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange slice (health first people).
Mark it 8 Dude! Having sampled (termed used loosely) this bourbon on several occasions, I was fairly confident this would fall at a 7. Mostly due to my personal preference for bolder, more distinct flavor profiles. But, I get it. It’s really smooth and mellow. There is a great flavor profile, though it might be subtle. And it’s under $30. Maker’s sets itself apart at this price range for its smoothness while maintaining its alcohol percentage at 45% (Minus the few weeks it was available at 42%). It’s enjoyable neat, on ice, or in a cocktail. Great flexibility! So pick your preference and go for it. This is a great product that represents my fine state very well!