Without question, the whiskey industry is experiencing a similar boom to that of craft beer, and is growing at a record pace. Within the last decade, masses of beer lovers finally realized, and/or admitted, that Miller Lite simply does not taste anywhere close to as good as local, fresh craft beer. And many of those same people have also realized that whiskey has fantastic complexities to offer their taste buds on relaxing evenings. Bourbon particularly has become a choice whiskey of both young and old. Deep bourbon lists are as commonplace at restaurants as the thick draft lists that rotate the newest breweries and hoppiest favorites. And every list includes all the staples. One such staple is Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Maker’s Mark holds a special place for me. I love that square-ish bottle, and the comforting red wax that contrasts perfectly with the beautiful caramel-brown colors of the bourbon. Like many, when I first started enjoying whiskey, I did not prefer it neat. The drink that really got me loving bourbon was the whiskey-ginger. Always good and refreshing, whether in winter, or the heat of summer. The first time I poured some ginger ale into my Maker’s Mark, it became my favorite bourbon for making whiskey-gingers, and it is always stocked in my house. I do enjoy Maker’s neat, but that is not how I usually have it.
When Marker’s Mark was revealed at a recent Charred Barrel Society blind tasting, we were all surprised. We at TCBS have documented why we do blind tastings, and it is what separates us from other whiskey reviews. So when an old favorite is revealed, the “oooooooohs” and “aaaaaaaaaahs” come fast!
So, what did everyone think about Maker’s Mark at this event?
Most of the participants smelled caramel and vanilla, with hints of apple popping through. One consistent negative reviewers noted was a bit of a harsh burn when approaching the bourbon. For some, this may have been the result of approaching too fast, but it was a common theme throughout.
The initial taste mirrored the approach as many reported a heavy alcohol taste, which was unpleasant. However, after this subsided, the flavors of Maker’s Mark began to shine through. Vanilla and caramel was there, followed by smooth, fruity notes.
Unfortunately, after the beauty of Maker’s subsided, the harsh alcohol flavor poked through again and reminded many of taking medicine. The way it sat on the tongue was not pleasant, and left a negative last impression.
Our Members gave Maker’s Mark a finger pour rating of 1.6, which is ok. This finger rating combined with the average price of Maker’s Mark, we give this popular Kentucky bourbon a medium value.
If you are a follower of The Charred Barrel Society, you might remember our review of Gentleman Jack. It scored shockingly high for what it was, and TCBS cringed when the reveal was made.
For Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky (yes, they spell it like our friends across the pond), it was the opposite. When The veil was lifted, and I saw that red wax, I wanted to rescore. I love Maker’s Mark. It is like an old friend. I will always have it in my house, and I wanted it to score higher. But the bottom line is, in a blind taste, while not scoring horribly, it was definitely not loved by our members taken neat. There are many bourbons in the same price range that are smooth and flavorful from start to finish to sip on. But if you are looking for a consistent bourbon that looks great in your bar, Maker’s fits the bill. And it makes wonderful bourbon cocktails. If you ever see me sitting at a bar, and there is ice in my glass, ask me what I am drinking. Chances are I will simply reply with “Maker’s and ginger.”
To Friends, Fellowship, and the Society.