Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Beam Suntory
Distillery: Maker’s Mark
Release Date: September 2019
Age: NAS (Around 6 years)
Mashbill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley
Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series 2019 Limited Release: Stave Profile RC6 is Maker’s Mark first ever nationally available limited release. Maker’s RC6 is the first in a collection of Maker’s Mark expressions that will use an innovative wood stave-finishing technique to enhance distinctive characteristics already present in Maker’s Mark Bourbon.
Maker’s RC6 starts off as standard Maker’s Mark, which is a wheated bourbon made in batches of less than 1,000 gallons. Then ten 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. The staves used in Maker’s RC6 were developed over the course of two years in partnership with barrel producer Independent Stave Company. Stave Profile RC6 is made from American Oak that has first been exposed to the outdoors, or “seasoned,” for an extended 18 months before being toasted in a convection oven.
Maker’s RC6 will be comprised of only 255 barrels in total. More information can be found in the press release.
There’s no denying that this shares traits with Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength. Rich oak, syrup soaked raisins, and a big dose of ethanol are all present. However, Maker’s RC6 differs in the fact that on top of those scents, there’s also heavy doses of brown sugar and dried fruits, along with a slight dash of dark chocolate. These scents all pair perfectly together resulting in a big rich aroma that draws you back for more.
The palate is sweet and yet, also dry, which is a combination that works here. A dry oak and toasted brown sugar is dominant and mixes with black pepper, cinnamon bark, canned fruits, and raisins. The higher proof works well in pulling out these flavors yet also allows them to remain well balanced.
A blast of heat starts the finish followed by tannic oak, leather, tobacco, and a hint of pepper. As the finish progresses, a peppery heat and dry oak remain, as the other flavors fade away. The finish’s flavors are long and lingering, and are a nice way to end the sip.
Maker’s Mark RC6 is similar in nature to Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength and the company’s Maker’s Mark Private Select line. All of the offerings contain 10 seared oak staves in their finishing process. However, where Maker’s RC6 differentiates, is by the fact that it uses 10 virgin toasted American oak staves that haven’t been utilized in past releases.
Maker’s RC6 isn’t the first Maker’s Mark product to utilize a special set of 10 seared oak staves, as Maker’s Seared Bu 1-3 was a limited release that utilized 10 virgin seared & Sous-Vide French oak staves. This 1,400 bottle release came in 375ml bottles and was only available at the distillery in 2018. This was clearly a prelude for the company’s new limited release series that played off of the wood staves as a finishing agent.
Tastewise, Maker’s RC6 is almost on par with the original release of Maker’s 46 Cask Strength. I was pleased to see this, as I feel that the original release of Maker’s 46 Cask Strength is still the best tasting version of a staved finished Maker’s product that the company has released. It nicely highlights the oak influence while pulling forward a sweeter flavor profile.
Maker’s chose an interesting pricing strategy for their first ever national limited release. While other distilleries are slowly raising their limited release pricing, Maker’s Mark introduced this release at only $60. This is around $10-$20 below what you’ll see most Maker’s Mark Private Selects go for. It’s refreshing to see and hopefully a trend that other distilleries will start to follow. Considering the quality of the sip, Maker’s RC6 delivers a fantastic value to the consumer.
Maker’s Mark's first national limited edition is a perfect example of how a subtle change and a reasonable price tag go a long way in helping you stand out above the crowd.
Maker’s Mark RC6 is really good. It won’t reign supreme over some of the other limited releases that came out in 2019, yet it can certainly hold its own. The interplay between the oak and sweeter flavors results in a well-balanced sip that is both rich and bold. In addition, the very reasonable price tag is a nice change of pace from the ongoing inflated prices the market seems willing to bear these last few years. If you’re a fan of Maker’s Mark, wheated bourbons, or just want to say you were able to try a limited release this year without breaking the bank, Maker’s Mark RC6 is a bottle that you’ll want to seek out.