Does Maker’s 46 Hit the Mark?
Maker’s Mark bourbon, with its red wax seal, is undeniably one of the most recognizable spirits on the market. For more than 50 years, it has been known for its quality; as the market has become glutted with fine, expensive small-batch bourbons in recent years, Maker’s Mark somewhat incredibly has become something of a value product. A 750ml bottle can usually be found for about $22.
Last summer the company launched Maker’s 46, a new, premium bourbon that, while clearly maintaining the same sensibilities, is not just a rejiggering or extended aging of the original. Rather, the process incorporates French oak for a different flavor profile. The price is higher as well, typically about $34.
Here’s what the neophyte whiskey drinker can appreciate about original Maker’s Mark: it’s just so damned approachable. A bust of sweetness leads into something fiery with cherry/cinnamon/vanilla/caramel tones; never cloying just unmistakably delicious.
The new, premium version is a little more aloof. The alcohol content is only a smidge more, a mere 2% (94 proof versus the original’s 90 proof), but it’s noticeable. It doesn’t so much as welcome you in as announce that it’s arrived, a big upfront performance. Be sure to pay attention to the subtleties that follow, though: more vanilla throughout than the original, a big woody finish, and hints of fall spice. Perfect for sipping; a little splash of water does open it up some as well.
Many are touting it as better than the original; your mileage may vary. It is very good, and worth trying, especially if you are a fan of Maker’s Mark. Even if you like it equally or somewhat more, the approximately 33% price difference may not be worth it to those who appreciate the “bang for the buck” quality of the original. But definitely worth a shot.