Maker's 46 starts off as standard Maker’s Mark, which is a wheated bourbon made in batches of less than 1,000 gallons. Then, heavily seared French oak staves are placed in just-emptied standard Maker's Mark barrels, which are then refilled and returned to the warehouses to finish aging for an undisclosed amount of time (estimated to be 2-3 additional months).
Upon lifting the glass I am greeted with the familiar Maker's profile, but with a twist. Maker's 46 nose comes across as slightly heavier and deeper than what I’m used to from the distillery. All of the classic bourbon flavors are present, including strong hints of caramel, toasted oak, and vanilla, along with buttery toffee and a touch of fresh toasted cinnamon bread. Really pleasant with a nice amount of depth to enjoy.
The first thought that pops into my head upon tasting Maker's 46 is a kitchen on a Sunday morning. A nice buttery palate presents heavy oak, caramel, cinnamon, and light fresh baked wheat bread. The palate’s flavors aren’t as deep as the nose, however it’s very well balanced and really enjoyable.
A blast of spice containing buttered rum, hints of tobacco and leather, and aged oak all greet me on the finish. It seems to liven up from the palate and presents more discernable flavor right up front. That being said, while it lingers for a while, it becomes more one dimensional, consisting mainly of light hints of tobacco and leather. Not bad, however I was hoping it would last a little bit longer since it starts off very enjoyable.
Maker’s Mark should be given credit for what they’ve done with Maker's 46. The bourbon clearly contains the soul of their standard Maker’s Mark while enhancing it in an overall positive way. While the exposure to additional charred wood has given Maker's 46 a woodier flavor profile, it’s not one that’s overly oaked, and brings with it a nice blast of sweetness from the additional sugars from the seared French oak staves. Maker’s 46 brings takes that beloved Maker’s Mark flavor profile and amplifies it in all the right ways through a very unique twist on barrel finishing not seen elsewhere in the industry.
Maker's 46 sells for 33% more than the cost of a standard Maker’s Mark. While this may feel steep, you also have to take into account that a 33% increase is only $10 more. Do I feel like you get your money’s worth with Maker's 46 versus Maker’s Mark and other easily available wheated bourbons? For me, the answer is absolutely. Maker’s 46 presents a really great, rich flavor profile that you don’t often see in wheated bourbons, and one that I wish the standard Maker’s Mark contained. If you’re a fan of standard Maker’s and can swing the $10 price premium, then this is a no brainer in my book.
It’s not earth-shattering bourbon, however it levels up one of the most iconic bourbon brands on the planet to a really enjoyable level.
I’m normally not the biggest Maker’s Mark fan, so I went into this tasting a little skeptical. While the bourbon definitely starts strongest in the nose and fades from there, Maker’s 46 still left me pleasantly surprised. Everything about Maker’s 46 seems to be more refined than the standard Maker's. From the more sophisticated looking bottle, one that breaks away from the iconic square influence of regular Maker’s, to the flavor profile, which is all around an enhancement of the standard Maker’s Mark profile.
It should be noted however, that individuals who love the flavor profile of Maker's Mark may be turned off by this enhanced fuller finish. That being said, while I may not stock my bar with Maker’s Mark, I would gladly buy another bottle of Maker’s 46.