Ah, Maker's Mark. What more can I say? You were one of the first bourbons I ever had. The first of many to be paired with a cigar and gently cradled in an icy glass on an old porch overlooking the lake. And you quickly became a go-to sipper whenever you went on sale.
But now... I think you've been replaced.
Not to worry though. I'm staying in the family. In fact, my new favorite corn whisky is your (barely) older brother. Maker's 46, despite it's steep price hike when compared to Maker's Mark ($47.99 vs. $24.99), is nothing more than their standard whisky aged for a few extra weeks with seared french oak staves. These staves add to the smooth, vanilla flavors of the whisky, and the searing caramelizes the sugars in the wood, increasing the sweetness and removing all trace of bitterness.
Maker's Mark and Maker's 46 are both aged for six years, give or take a little depending on how each batch matures. At maturity, ten seared French oak staves are added to the Makers 46 barrels and they are aged for several more weeks. As a "small batch distillery," all Maker's brands are made in 1,000 gallon batches (about 19 barrels), although currently there is no federal regulation as to how "small batch" is used by distilleries.
Nose: Sweet, wet wood. Sharp bourbon smell sinks under a floating blanket of warm, soft caramel and melted butter. Honey, honeydew, and apple notes are also present.
Taste: Bright caramel, freshly split maple, similar to Maker's Mark, but smoother, with a longer finish. Honey.
Price: $20 on sale at costco (must buy 3 for deal), $47.99 at Ralphs/Krogers.