Editor’s Note: The Whiskey Wash welcomes Derek Sun to our writing staff! Also, the whiskey from this review was provided to us by the company behind it as a product sample. No compensation was received by The Whiskey Wash for this review and no outside editorial influence occurred during the review process.
For whiskey lovers, Maker’s Mark needs little introduction. The square bottles, the caps sealed with dripping red wax and the SIV label are all familiar signs to people who are passionate about good bourbon. Located in Loretto, Kentucky, Maker’s Mark diverges from most distilleries by using red winter wheat in its mash instead of rye, and has developed a solid reputation for meticulous distilling and focus on producing the best bourbon possible. By distilling only a select few number of whiskies, Maker’s Mark aims for supreme quality. It achieves that as well as versatility; its products can be consumed neat, on the rocks or mixed in cocktails.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is 113.3 proof, or 56.7% alcohol by volume. This makes it much stronger than the typical Maker’s Mark whiskey, which is generally 90 proof. It has a lower proof than most cask strength whiskies, to preserve taste and prevent the flavor of alcohol from overwhelming the notes of vanilla, oak, and cinnamon.
Poured into a glass, the whiskey gives off a dark amber color. To the nose, the whiskey gives off a lighter aroma than expected, but is still palpable. What really stands out is the distinct scent of vanilla that pairs with the dominant smell of bourbon, while one also can detect a subtler aroma of cinnamon. Direct and sweeter than most bourbon, the smell is subdued yet pleasant to take into the nose, and a careful study allows one to even notice the aroma of wood that stored and aged the whiskey.
Maker’s Mark proves itself to be quintessential bourbon, and the amount of care and work invested into the whiskey is evident with just one taste. The pleasingly smooth finish is accompanied by strongly woody tastes and notes of vanilla, smoke, and spice, resulting in a robust bourbon. The aftertaste is clean and refreshing, with pleasantly lingering wheat flavors on the palate. Compared to the typical Maker’s Mark, the finish is slightly longer, and what’s impressive is that it lacks roughness or scratchiness that other whiskies may give off.
It has a high cost, but Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is a bourbon that any whiskey aficionado needs to try. The commonly suggested retail price for one 375 mL bottle is $39.95, which is pricey but worthwhile. Bottled in a sturdy and attractive square bottle and sealed with classic red wax, Maker’s Mark will certainly impress aesthetically when you’re shopping at the liquor store. For ideal consumption, drink it neat and enjoy the mélange of flavors that combine to create a fiery whiskey with diverse tastes.
There are other whiskies that deliver a more powerful palate and aftertaste, but Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is memorable for its deep and varied array of smokiness and sweetness. If you have money to spare and a desire to try some of the best bourbon around, seek out this whiskey.
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Derek Sun hails from hot and dry Los Angeles and currently enjoys living in cold and rainy Portland. He taught himself to appreciate whiskey through many glasses and a few hangovers, and is always trying out new drinks around the world.