Whiskey Review: Maker's Mark Seared BU1-3 - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Maker’s Mark Seared BU1-3

Ask any bourbon drinker what brand they first fell in love with, and it’s even odds that they’ll say Maker’s Mark. Made in Loretto, Kentucky, Maker’s Mark is a sweet, friendly, easy-drinking whiskey with an iconic red wax-dipped bottle that looks equally at home tucked into the hold of a canoe as it does behind a fancy bar.

While the flagship Maker’s Mark bourbon may keep the distillery’s lights on, that hasn’t kept the brand from diving into innovation, especially when it comes to wood. According to the distillery, it went through 125 different types of experimental barrels before it settled on a system that combined traditional new charred American oak with “seared or slowly cooked” French oak stave inserts to create Maker’s 46.

Maker’s Mark’s Private Select program, which allows participants to create their own barrel from several different types of staves, likewise leverages the power of experimental cooperage to generate distinctive flavor profiles.

The whiskey for this review, Maker’s Mark Seared BU1-3, mines that same vein. It was made by adding 10 staves of “seared and sous vide” French oak to regular Maker’s Mark barrels. Sous vide, for the unfamiliar, is a cooking technique that uses a circulating bath of temperature-controlled water to bring ingredients to a very specific temperature. According to the distillery, the flavor profile of these seared and sous vide French oak staves didn’t quite work with their standard releases, but was too interesting to discard entirely.

Maker’s Mark Seared BU1-3 is only available at the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, which mean if you’d like to try some, you’ll either have to make the trip or hope a close friend in Kentucky is willing to set some aside for you. Just 1,400 375ml bottles were made, and Maker’s makes it sound like there are no plans for a re-issue.

Maker's Mark Seared BU1-3

Tasting Notes: Maker’s Mark Seared BU1-3

Vital Stats: 110.7 proof, no age statement, aged in new charred oak casks and finished with seared French oak staves. $40 for 375ml bottle SRP

Appearance: Deep topaz

Nose: Very sweet and sugary, with pastry shop notes of toffee, caramel, custard cream, light brown sugar, corn, dried apricots, dates, sugar cookie dough, cinnamon buns, and brioche. Water brings out a bit more cooked grain, giving it an almost beery flavor.

Palate: A sweets shop in a bottle: Big, sugary notes of crème brulee, sautéed plantains, bananas foster, and vanilla bean segue to soft and sticky notes of Almond Joy candy, butterscotch, and clover honey. A yeasty, brioche-like finish has a very gentle edge of fresh oak, but overall, this whiskey has a soft and glassy feel—if it wasn’t for the vaporously high proof, it could almost be mistaken for a liqueur. Water softens the alcohol but also squashes the aromatics, giving it a flat cola vibe.

The Takeaway

If this whiskey were a song in 4/4 time, it’s played on the one. It starts out strong with a super-rich nose and deeply sweet entry, but the mid-palate is a little softer than expected. Blousy, silky, and smooth, it’s like silk stockings for your mouth. While it’s not particularly “serious” tasting, it’s tasty stuff nevertheless, and if you’re a Maker’s fan with the chance to grab a bottle of this one-time release, don’t hold back.

4
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