Maker’s Mark has a reputation for being a classic and more traditional distillery. However, in recent years the company has started experimenting with their recipe and have delivered some very tasty alternatives to the classic Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Maker’s Mark rolled out their Private Selection program back in late 2015 with the intent of creating unique expressions of their Maker’s Mark bourbon by utilizing various combination of wood staves to add additional flavor to the bourbon at cask strength. This is similar to the approach used in creating Maker’s 46, but for these barrels lucky retailers and distributors get to select a combination of flavoring staves to create their own unique barrel selections. There are 1,001 possible stave combinations using 10 custom and proprietary wood finishing staves.
This bourbon is aged anywhere from 5 3/4 to 7 years, the standard time for Maker’s Mark. A selection of wood staves are inserted into the barrels at cask strength and the barrels are then aged in the new Maker’s Mark limestone cellar which was literally built into the side of a limestone rock face. In my opinion, this cellar is one of the most interesting sites on the Kentucky bourbon trail!
I found this bottle up in Lexington, Kentucky back in September and I was lucky because it was the last one on the shelf on the opening day of bourbon hunting season! This selection was made by Liquor Barn #7 and this bottled retailed for $69.99.
Here is the breakdown of the staves used for this particular selection:
The mashbill is the same as the Maker’s Mark bourbon and consists of 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley. This selection comes in at 110.4 proof (55.2% abv).
Appearance – a nice, dark orange mahogany.
Nose – the nose on this bourbon is deep and rich, with notes of milk chocolate, coffee bean, and vanilla. A little water brought out the aroma of salted caramel.
Palate – this bourbon is warm, thick, and mildly spicy on the palate. There is a slight burn that gives way to milk chocolate, vanilla, and hints of clove. A little water calmed the spice, eliminated the burn, and also brought out the sweetness of chocolate covered cherry.
Finish – the finish is medium-long with light barrel spice, caramel, vanilla, and more milk chocolate. Towards the very end, there is some additional sweetness reminiscent of dried fruit, mainly cherry and apricot.
Overall – this particular selection is rich and smooth, and has a very unique flavor profile. And at 110.4 proof, this bourbon is very easy to drink. This is my first tasting of a Maker’s Mark Private Select but I really look forward to trying more! The staves and additional chill-aging process adds a lot of flavor to this bourbon, and I can only imagine that there are some very unique and challenging combinations available. If you see a bottle, I highly recommend picking it up and sharing it with me!