I have written extensively about Maker’s Mark here. To summarize, Maker’s addition of oak staves to their bourbon makes a pretty nice bourbon that ends up being more like the Van Winkle and Weller bourbons. The 2021 limited release bottling use 10 virgin toasted oak American staves for finishing. This is 110.6 proof, and given that it is barrelled at 110 proof, we had a bit of water loss during aging and that’s probably a good thing.
Color is a medium amber, with a thin film and legs on the swirl. Nose has corn sweetness, light baking spices and some freshly baked bread notes. On the palate, is some mild dark chocolate, some cherry notes, a load of cinnamon, which finishes with some oak and English pipe tobacco mixing with the cinnamon on the end. Medium mouthfeel.
It is sort of like Van Winkle 12 year old without the mouthfeel. While the staves contribute a lot in terms of adding oak notes to the whiskey, it doesn’t add age and thus the mouthfeel is only medium. However, given that wheated bourbons like Weller and Van Winkle are now next to impossible to get, Maker’s Mark limited releases and store picks with the right mix of staves are very good wheated bourbon substitutes for those sought after bourbons. The American toasted oak staves add a lot of flavor, but some of their French Mocha staves would have added a lot of richness.
I am still looking for a Maker’s with five toasted American and five French mocha staves. But this is a very enjoyable bottle.