Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Cask Strength (Batch 20-02)


Nose: This has a nice “classic bourbon” smell that leans more toward the caramel side. I got the very faintest hints of mint on later sips, but it was very much in the background. Palate: Even at 110.4 proof, the heat on this doesn’t kick in until the finish. It has a deep, chewy and somewhat oily mouthfeel. The first sip brought out a very nutty character, almost like roasted peanuts. It had cinnamon mixed in with the heat in the finish. A second sip brought out some earthy flavors and some oakiness. I was a bit surprised that this wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be. And, for a wheated bourbon, I was surprised to pick up some spiciness. It was a little out of the ordinary, so I wouldn’t exactly describe it as rye spice. On later sips, a little bit of molasses comes through during the fairly long finish. Afterwards, it leaves an aftertaste that is hard to define, but it is on the “musty” side. On the “near-the-end-of-the-glass” tastes, the heat seemed to be much tamer than it was up front. It remained a decent sip, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. I have to say that I’m disappointed because I really DO want to like this but I never like it as much as I’d like to. Comments: If this looks like deja vu….you’re right. I reviewed some of the very first Maker’s Mark Cask Strength earlier, but…..this is a different batch. I was curious to see how it might have changed. I did NOT look at my earlier review before tasting this. I suppose not surprisingly, there were a lot of similarities. I think this is testament to the fact that Maker’s Mark goes to some lengths to ensure the consistency of the taste of their products. I didn’t do a side-by-side tasting to see which I might like better, but I’ll do that at some point. Just because I’m here to serve you, here’s a recap of what I said last time:
REVISIT
Nose: While I found the nose rich and full, it is actually a pretty light scent. It is not nearly as overpowering as you might expect for a cask strength. I picked up scents of raisin and cinnamon and a very slight amount of mint. Later sniffs brought out some caramel and some molasses. Palate: Yep, it’s high proof and lets you know it. That first sip of a high proof always catches me off guard…..even when I’m expecting it. SO….the first sip was mostly a jolting, jump-start to the palate. This has a nice oily mouthfeel. The second sip finds the palate a little more prepared and you don’t feel the alcohol as much until the finish, which is pretty long and also brings out some pepper. Because I have “guilty knowledge” that this is a wheated bourbon, I was expecting this to be sweeter and not have any rye spice. Nope. I wouldn’t define this as a sweet bourbon. Of course, with high proof bourbon, I think ANY sweetness is going to be overrun by the alcohol. What was odd, however, is that I was getting slight rye spice flavors…..or at least I though it was rye spice….maybe it is just “spice”? Later sips brought out oak notes and some rum-like molasses notes. It also has some peppery notes that pop up once in a while. Comments: This guy is 113.3 proof and this bottle was one of the very first ones that came out when they first started putting this out. After the first sip, the higher proof isn’t really harsh or burning, but it does let you know it has some warmth. I like wheated bourbon but I’ve never been a big fan of Maker's Mark. Sadly, even though I really enjoy a good barrel (cask) strength bourbon, this didn’t stand out as being anything exceptional. I suppose that might be expected, if I’m not a huge fan of regular Maker’s Mark. My bottle is a 375 bottle and it was in the high $30 - low $40 range when I got it. It looks like the 750 bottle is in the $50 range. The mashbill on this is 70% corn, 16% wheat and 14% malted barley. I’m guessing that if you like Maker’s Mark and don’t mind the higher proof, that you will like this. For me, though, for the money, I’d rather get something else. Not that I can’t drink it or heavily dislike it, it just isn’t my cup of tea. OK…I lied. After I wrote and copied/pasted the above, I went down to the Flying Aces and poured my self a glass of the earlier Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. The new version isn’t nearly as spicy and I liked the newer version a lot more. So…..I suppose things CAN improve! There is a 3 proof difference between the two, but I suppose that is negligible. On the other hand, I didn’t find the heat on today’s version to be all that hot….at least compared to my description (or tasting) of the previous version. I also didn’t find the same level of pepper that I did last time. I picked this up recently for $45, so the price was certainly better than what I paid for the 375 bottle. At that price point, it is a decent deal, but I wouldn’t go out and buy a case of it. I think, however, that that might be my continuing disappointment with Maker’s Mark. As much as I WANT to like it, it always comes across as “just OK” for me. That’s my taste, though, so if you like Maker’s Mark, you might like this a lot more. For the same money (if it can be found), I’d be a buyer of the Larceny Barrel Strength over this. As a last thought……I found that I enjoyed this a lot more toward the end of the glass, when it had aired for a while.