I like ’em fat, I like ’em proud.
Ya gotta have a mother for me,
Now move your big a$$ round this way
So I can work on that zipper, baby.
I don’t throw around raunchy Prince lyrics lightly, but Maker’s 46 was shoutin’ out for something loud. Before we get heavy though, some background is in order…
Maker’s 46 debuted a bit over a year ago, and highlights a trend towards untraditional forms of aging and impacting the flavor of bourbon (see Woodford Reserve’s Maple Wood Finish as another prominent example). These spirits are not for purists or traditionalists, they intentionally tweak the straight bourbon approach to deliver something new. Maker’s Mark former president Bill Samuels called Maker’s 46 “a breakthrough in the contemporary craft of bourbon” with “innovative techniques never before employed.” So, yeah, not for folks who dig on tradition. The innovation? Taking regular old Maker’s Mark and re-barrelling it with seared French oak staves inside the barrel for a few extra months, imparting some amped up flavor and playing Jedi mind tricks with the whiskey inside. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of regular old Maker’s Mark, finding it a bit flat and without enough spice to balance out the sweet, but I do think the injection of extra oak into the process alters and generally improves it in a noticeable way.
So, on to the tasting notes and a little Prince:
“Bourbon Whisky Barrel-Finished with Oak Staves”
Approx. $35-$40 Retail
Tasting Date: October 25, 2011
Maker’s 46 pours a bright honey amber in the glass, possibly a touch darker than regular Maker’s Mark, but still not dark. The aroma is full of warm toasty oak, butterscotch and caramel, with a crusty, bread-like wheat undertone. Nothing crazy, it’s a bigger, stronger brother of regular Maker’s Mark. It’s on the tongue that 46 gets FAT and the nasty Prince groove comes into play. It’s luscious, round and chewy. Maybe Sir Mix-a-Lot would be more appropriate. Vanilla, caramel, and more slightly buttery toast coats the tongue. There’s a nice, welcome cinnamon spice that kicks in on the back that starts to balance things out, to give it some sass. The chewiness continues on through the finish, with an almost cabernet-like woody tannin pucker coming in at points and lingering on the tongue. So, while many may dig on this sexy MF, I must admit that it’s not quite up my alley. Too much chunky chew, not enough depth or elegance. I guess I don’t like ’em fat, after all.
(Not quite) Good Stuff* – better than it’s little brother, but far from a good value at $35 plus. If you like ’em fat, though, this may be for you.
Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck
Full Disclosure: this bottle was provided as a tasting sample