Maker’s 46 Private Selection Process

Maker’s Mark Bourbon is a wildly popular wheated bourbon. We sell a lot of it. A whole lot. Partly because it’s delicious and partly because we always feature it at such a hot price. The same is true of Maker’s 46– a newer version of Maker’s Mark created by taking fully matured Maker’s Mark bourbon and placing it in a barrel with ten charred wooden staves to create more wood influence, more caramel, more… YUM. The whisky is then aged in these modified barrels for an additional three months to maximize the flavor impact of the staves. Taste them side by side and you know that Maker’s 46 is a very different whisky, and again, because it’s so tasty and our hot feature price, we sell a whole lot of Maker’s 46.

During a 2015 visit, the idea of creating a customized expression of Maker’s 46 was presented to us, and of course we were all in. But it took a couple of years before the idea became a reality. In early 2017, the opportunity arose to create our own Maker’s 46 Private Selection, and in the fall we were finally able to jump on it. Here’s how it worked


Basically, the folks at Maker’s worked with one of the largest cooperages in the world, Independent Stave, to create a total of five different stave types that would develop different flavor profiles in the whisky when placed in the barrel along with the aging whisky:

Baked American Pure 2 (P2)- American Oak oven cured at low temps lending toasty wood and vanilla flavors but not much finish.
Seared French Cuvee (CU)- French Oak staves are grooved to create more surface area and cooked in an infrared oven. The tops of the ridges become more toasty than the bottoms and the whisky is caramely, round and rich with lots of vanilla notes.
Maker’s 46 (46)- French Oak staves cured under infrared heat. Vanilla, spice, and leather.
Roasted French Mocha (MO)- French Oak staves baked at higher temperatures to a crispier toast. I’m not a coffee drinker and alone, this was my least favorite.
Toasted French Spice (SP)- French Oak cured in a traditional oven at very high temperatures and then seared in the infrared oven. Again, not great on it’s own. Fresh wood, peppermint, tight and sharp.






Maker’s Mark constructed an entire climate controlled building dedicated to the production of Maker’s 46 and a pimped out room dedicated to the Maker’s 46 Private Selection process. In the predawn hours, we would be taking beakers of whisky samples aged in barrels with exclusively one stave type and blending them together to approximate what a barrel with those staves inserted would produce.

First we’d sample each whisky on it’s own. French Spice was very sharp and tannic, French Cuvee was very rich and round, Maker’s 46 was vanilla and caramel… By calculating the percentages to blend in based on the number of staves of each type, we would go through the process of determining (what I would consider to be) the best stave configuration. It started with a crap shoot.




Pouring Maker's SamplesThe first attempt produced a rich, round, but very flat whisky. The next didn’t offer much improvement. Only through inserting some mocha and spice- flavors which on their own were completely outside of my wheelhouse, did the whisky become balanced and truly memorable. On the fifth iteration, the whisky was finMaker's Mark Private Selection Processally perfect. Rich, vanilla and caramel with just enough mocha and spice to color the highs and the lows.



Click here for the Maker’s 46 Private Select Ace Spirits (2-P2, 4-CU, 2-46, 1-MO, 1-SP)





Then I got to thinking… OK, we got this awesome Private Select chosen, would it be possible to make a barrel using ONLY the Maker’s 46 staves? Since it was to be bottled at barrel proof, this would essentially be Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength Bourbon!!!??? The answer was yes. In fact, if you wanted this bottle you could get it only at Maker’s Mark- a distillery only release made at the direction of Bill Samuels Jr. himself!


I’m pleased to offer you, for the first time outside of the distillery, MakeMaker's Mark Cask Strength- Bill Samuels Jr.r’s Mark Cask Strength!

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