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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NOT Single Malt Report: Maker's Mark Bourbon (bottled 2015)

Maker's Mark is a wheated bourbon, which means the producers (Beam Suntory) elect to use wheat instead of rye as the flavoring grain in the mash.  Thus Maker's mashbill is made of corn, wheat, and malted barley.  Maker's, easily recognizable with its angular bottle shape and iconic red wax seal, is very popular from here to Europe to Asia.

I reviewed Maker's 3+ years ago in a humbling blind tasting, finding it to be as unremarkable as I had found it when it was consumed not-blindly.  And by "unremarkable" I mean inoffensive and easy to drink.  This April, while tinkering with cocktail recipes, I bought a 375mL bottle of Maker's, a decision I regretted almost immediately.  Not only was it utterly mediocre (at best) on its own, it was totally flat in cocktails and kinda gross in highballs.  The bottle barely made it to the halfway point before I dumped the remainder down the sink.

I'm giving you this lead-in because if you're a Maker's fan, you may want to avert your eyes and read my other bourbon posts this week.  Or perhaps I can interest you in a single malt?  No?

DistilleryMaker's Mark
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Type: Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon
Region: Loretto, Kentucky
Age: minimum 2 years
Mashbill: 70% corn, 16% soft red winter wheat, and 14% malted barley (source)
Maturation: charred white oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 45%
Bottle code: L5009MMB

The color is orange-tinted light maple syrup.  Corn bread with honey is the first note in the nose, followed by cinnamon and barrel char.  Then it suddenly turns into a 1990's bathroom counter: cucumber melon hand lotion (Bath & Body Works), Barbasol shaving cream, and cheap cologne.  The palate is very sweet and oddly hot for its ABV.  There's unripe honeydew, a hint of lemon, brown sugar, and a lot of bitter oak.  A sickly sweet aspartame thing bear hugs the tongue.  It finishes all sweet and heat.  A crate load (or a pallet if you will) of overripe bananas.  Bitter oak.  Lengthy.

AS A HIGHBALL (1:1 ratio of whisky and club soda)
Even sweeter now, as if it were a cocktail loaded with simple syrup.  Some barrel char around the sides.

As I mentioned, I used to find Maker's Mark to be just fine.  But this was, at times, actively unpleasant.  The nose was kooky and is what saves it from being a total fail.  But on the palate the bitter oak, NutraSweet, and overripe bananas are cringe inducing.

Some things to consider...... I do not have a sweet tooth when it comes to booze, but if you do like sweeties then perhaps you'd find fewer issues with this whisky; though I really can't imagine the aspartame thing appealing to many folks.  Also, I love rye and this has none.  If you're a wheater fan, perhaps you'd find fewer issues with this whisky.

Please keep in mind that I'm reviewing my actual bottle (bottle code: L5009MMB) here rather than just a sample.  More was consumed and more time was spent on this bottle than my average review.  With all of this in mind, I'll never buy Maker's Mark again.

Availability - Everywhere bourbon is sold
Pricing - $20-$40 (for 750mL); $14-$23 (for 375mL)
Rating - 68