It may have launched in the US in 2010, but Maker's 46 hasn't made it to the UK... until now. Rejoice, bourbon fans, because it's just landed on these shores, and is available through Maxxium.
Only the second product in the Kentucky distiller's portfolio, Maker's 46 is made in the same way as the original Maker's Mark, with the same mash bill and distillation process – before the liquid is aged in new American oak barrels for five to six years.
Where things get interesting is that this liquid is then removed from the barrels. Then 10 thin European oak staves that have been 'caramelised' instead of charred, are inserted into the barrels, held in place around the edges of the cask. These casks are moved to a cooler part of the warehouse, where they're left to age for a further 30 days. It's then bottled at 47% abv - 2% higher than the original Maker's Mark.
One thing to note here – the rules around bourbon state that the liquid has to be aged in new oak casks – it doesn't specify American oak, so all rules have been adhered to.
The result is a bigger, spicier whiskey than the original. The vanilla, fudge and tropical fruits flavours of the original are still there. It has a velvet texture up front, before a smoky barbecue dry-rub character comes in, with some paprika and chilli and a big peach note. It'll do good service in high-end cocktails, but is also a delicious sipping whiskey.
As most of you probably know, wine producers sometimes use additional wood chips or staves in their barrels to help give extra oak character to a liquid quickly and cheaply. But Maxxium state that Maker's Mark definitely isn't using these staves to cut corners. 'It's not that we just want the oaky flavour, otherwise we'd age the liquid for the minimum required amount of time before putting it in something like this [the barrels with the oak staves],' explains Mixxit's Amanda Humphrey. 'This is an innovation, which came as a result of trying 115 different recipes to create this new product.'
£39.99, Maxxium, 01786 430500