Last Friday we had the privilege of participating in a Maker’s Mark bourbon tasting event at Frank. Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky based distillery that focuses their entire production facility to making just one product, the well known Maker’s Mark bourbon. That is until now.
The reason for the little event put on by Evins Communications, Ltd and Maker’s Mark was to give the Austin blogging community a preview of their new product, Maker’s 46. So what is Maker’s 46?
As we took our seats to listen to the president and CEO of Maker’s Mark, Bill Samuels Jr, the lovely waitresses from Frank brought us what they referred to as a Triple Crown: Bacon Infused Maker’s Mark, Ginger beer and lemon juice (and later chocolate covered bacon!). I can’t think of a better way to start off a weekend’s worth of food and wine festivities.
Bill Samuels, Jr took us through a brief history of the distillery (his parents started it in the 60’s), his background (out of work rocket scientist), and how Maker’s Mark is made (aged 6.5 years in oak barrels). Maker’s Mark is made using the same process that his father used 50 years ago. The water is comes from a local Kentucky spring, the grains come from the same farmers, and the roller mill (rolled, not crushed) is similar to the one his father used. Their leftover grain waste is then recycled by giving it to local ranchers as feed for their livestock for free.
Maker’s 46 was the result of Mr. Samuel’s ambition to advance the bourbon tradition, and as he puts it “to have something to put on my tombstone!”. The product begins life as Maker’s Mark original, but it is subjected to a rather unique process. First, thin oak staves are produced from a special non-porous strain of oak. These staves are then “quickly grilled like a steak” at an extremely high temperature. The result is a char on the outside that seals the wood and keeps the tannins from being extracted by the alcohol. These grilled staves are then placed inside of a traditional bourbon barrel and the original Maker’s Mark whiskey is added back in. The bourbon is then subjected to some additional aging that allows the bourbon to extract all of the caramelized colors and flavors from the grilled wood.
The result of this process is an amazingly smooth, not quite sweet bourbon. The flavor profile is full of caramel, cinnamon and vanilla. It would be perfect on the rocks or made into your favorite whiskey based cocktail, and it’s friendly to non bourbon drinkers as well. Maker’s 46 is destined to become a popular spirit when it hits the market in July.
I suppose until then I’ll just have to perfect my mint julep recipe using Maker’s Mark!