I have to say that I have enjoyed store picks of Maker’s Mark 46 finished with differing staves, and I hope those stay around. But the Wood Finishing Series has also been a real treat. It is sad that the BEP 2023 release will be the last of the series. BEP stands for barrel entry proof, and this release is meant to emphasize Maker’s continued use of a lower entry proof, 110 proof, rather than the 125 that is standard for most bourbons. It has to be remembered that 110 proof use to be the outer limit for barrel entry proof, and many distillers put 107 proof whiskey in barrels. Thus, whiskies released back then at 107 proof was pretty darn close to barrel proof. This bourbon was finished with ten virgin oak staves, presumably charred to some degree, with the aim of getting a lot of wood sugars into Maker’s wheated bourbon.
My particular bottle comes in at 110.7 proof. The Maker’s website indicates that the proof can vary from 109.6 to 110.7.
The nose is very traditional wheated bourbon but with a lot of vanilla, and wood sugars that I often find on Woodford Reserve. Color is a medium amber; it’s nice but nothing particularly impressive. On the swirl though are is a big thick film with thick legs running down. Definitely an oily bourbon that was not proofed down after leaving the barrel. On the palate is a huge creamy and doughy vanilla bomb followed by lovely baking spaces on the finish. Mouthfeel is pretty rich and defnitely richer than other Maker’s barrel strength bourbons that I have had. The finish has lovely baking spice, but not too much, along with some nice oak that is similar to Van Winkle releases I have had.
This is a very nice capping off of the wood finishing series that is pretty old school heavily oaked wheated bourbon.