In September, 2009, Malt Advocate publisher John Hansell hosted a webcast at the Maker’s Mark Distillery with Master Distiller Kevin Smith and John Campbell, Distillery Manager at Laphroaig. (Beam Global owns both distilleries and sponsored the event.)
Because Campbell brought three different Laphroaigs, Hansell asked Smith if there would ever be another Maker’s. Smith gave his usual answer. Maker's is a small distillery and struggles to make enough Maker's Mark without trying to make something else too.
When he said that, he knew it was about to change.
Next month, Maker's Mark will release its first new product (a few bottles at different proofs notwithstanding) since the distillery was founded more than 50 years ago.
The new expression, Maker's Mark 46, is a finish, meaning it is the standard product with an extra twist. Whiskey finishes typically take a fully-aged whiskey and transfer it to another kind of barrel for a few additional months. The prototypical example is a single malt scotch finished in sherry casks.
In Maker's case, heavily seared French oak pieces are placed in just-emptied Maker's Mark barrels, which are then refilled and returned to the warehouses. The result is an increase in several spice notes without the tannic bitterness that usually accompanies them.
It totally works.
The complete story is in the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, Volume 12, Number 6.
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Maker's Mark 46 is expected to be in stores after July 1.