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Nose: Fruity and rich. There are lovely notes of spiced honey and mixed peels, a little malmsey, hazelnut and a touch of cut fruit with toasty oak providing a backbone.
Palate: Rich and full. There are notes of rye and spice, barley malt, a little nut oil with butterscotch and vanilla.
Maker's Mark is a Bourbon brand and distillery located in Loretto, Kentucky. The company in its modern form was founded in 1953 by Bill Samuels Senior, although the distillery has been active for various owners since 1805, and the Samuels family have been involved in whiskey production since 1780. The family still manages the operation, though it was sold to Hiram Walker & Son in 1981 and is now part of the Beam Suntory portfolio. Maker's Mark, like Old Rip Van Winkle, is a wheated bourbon with no rye in the recipe. Other points of difference in production include a roller mill to stop grains scorching, slow cooking in open cookers, and use of their own house jug yeast. The spirit is distilled to 130 degrees proof (65 percent abv) in three copper beer columns with doublers, which are considered key in establishing the character of the white dog (new-make spirit). Oak barrels for the core product are air-dried and given a lighter char to avoid overly sweet aromas. The barrels are matured in black-painted warehouses around the property; to achieve consistency they are rotated between the cooler lower floors and the baking-hot upper floors. Between 1953 and 2010, the company only made one expression, the 90 proof – which was briefly released at 84 proof in 2013 before consumer uproar forced a return to the original product. Typically, this is aged for six years in barrel before release. The first new product was the Maker’s Mark 46, which is the standard whisky finished for three or four months with 10 staves of French oak inserted into the barrel. In 2014 the limited release Cask Strength Bourbon was introduced, and the line-up now includes a white dog and a seasonal pre-mixed Mint Julep, as well as various special editions.