Summer vacation. With the sun high in the blue sky, I, the wife, the kids and luggage loaded into my big black Ford and headed south, crossed the border into the US, continued south on the I-95, took exit 187 and a quick left put me on the Hogan Road. Another left at a Honda dealership put me on the road to the Hilton Garden Inn, Bangor, Maine.
After day spent spent entertaining the children in the pool, a science museum and supper, I found myself at about 8pm in the lobby while my wonderful spouse put the children to bed in the hotel room upstairs. What's a fella to do for a while?
The well-appointed lobby has the burnished, dark wood walls, leather couchs and wing-back chairs, and most importantly a bar. I pay a visit, scan the bottles along the mirrored wall and thought since I am in America, I should enjoy one of the great fruits of American industry, namely bourbon. Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon to be precise.
Once ensconced comfortably in a leather chair facing an LCD TV, I am in fine form.
Vanilla. I am not able to discern much else.
As lawless and unruly as Woodford Reserve can be, Maker's Mark is not. Woodford Reserve can be fiery on first sip. Maker's Mark is balanced, refined and even elegant. This bourbon starts out sweet, a corn sweetness, followed by powerful oak. The body of this spirit is rounded. The flavors are soft. Black cherry makes an appearance. Oak re-enters with charcoal and makes for a cleansing of the palate in a very fresh fashion.
Nice and long. I am impressed! Oak and a little brown sugar/charcoal remain and zing for quite while. There is no ugly burn in the throat. Just warmth.
How does this rank in comparison with other bourbons? Well, at it's price point, the small batch premium bourbon competition would include: Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek. While Woodford Reserve can at times be more complex, it can also be wilder and more alcohol infused.
Knob Creek is more complex and more interesting when one seeks a real toure-de-force of flavors. Nevertheless, Maker's Mark is a bourbon I will pick up from time to time when I am seeking a bourbon that is not offensive, refined, and a flavor profile that's a crowd pleaser. A certain pick if I am having a party.
This is more interesting than Basil Hayden's, another small batch bourbon.
Value for Money?
Maker's Mark is not cheap. I think the price is fair, but it is no bargain. If you want a bargain bourbon, try Jim Beam Black. Maybe a little simpler flavor profile but a lot easier on the pocket book.
What No Age Statement?
As mentioned above, Maker's Mark is a premium small batch bourbon with a high price to boot. You would expect an age statement on every bottle. Not so. Competition in the same price range make age statements. Knob Creek is 9 years old. Eagle Rare is 10 years old. Baker's Bourbon 7 years, and so on. Maker's Mark has no fixed age. Age is dependent on taste. A panel of tasters determine when the barrels of bourbon are ready to be bottled as Maker's Mark. No bottling of Maker's Mark that is less than six years, nor more than seven and a half years has taken place.
Age statements are not necessarily indicative of superior quality when it comes to whisky of any kind. They mostly function as a tool of marketing to reel the likes of you and I in. To believe that older whisky is better than younger is to be terribly mistaken.
I like Maker's Mark. I have been drinking it for years and have always found it to be reliable and pleasant like an old friend. Highly recommended!
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved except for photographs: (1) Maker's Mark in hand taken by Flickr member: Adie Reed. Check out her great site for more photos: http://adiereed.wordpress.com/ She has graciously granted a Creative Commons license which permits its reproduction on this blog. (2) Photograph of line of Maker's Mark bottles taken off web but I could not find any credit for it. If you are the photographer, please contact me so I can credit you, with your permission. (3) Photograph of Maker's Mark whisky glasses taken by Flickr member: thewhiskeyroad, who holds all copyright and no reproduction permitted without his permission.