Maker’s Mark is owned by Fortune Brands, who also own Jim Beam. The one most unique thing about Maker’s Mark is that it is not made with rye. The creator, Bill Samuels Sr., was a sixth generation distiller, and in 1953, he abandoned his family’s 170 yr old recipe. He did not want to waste years fermenting different experimental grain formulas, so instead he decided to bake different breads with different grain proportions. The best tasting bread recipe would be his new bourbon. The winning combination was that of barley and red winter wheat. So by 1958, we had our first bottle of Maker’s Mark.
Admittedly, we were not expecting much from this bourbon but it performed very well. For its price, about $22, it’s a very solid buy. The Tasting Notes are as follows: A light scent of grain, sweet apple spice scent and caramel. With flavors of grain, malt and corn, sometimes sweet flavor, smooth, complex and crisp with a good long aftertaste. This is a very solid bourbon and one we would drink again and again. We actually like the regular Makers Mark brand more than the pricier Makers 46, which retails for about $35.
Maker’s Mark is one of the few brands to credit Mother Nature for such a unique bourbon taste. That’s because we use pure, iron-free limestone spring water exclusively. Not city, well or river water. Our source is a 10-acre limestone spring-fed lake at the distillery.
First, we use yellow corn and red winter wheat from specially selected small farm cooperatives, all of which are located within the limestone geology near the distillery. This wheat gives our whisky its soft, mellow taste. And we only use naturally malted barley, because it has no enzyme-enhancing gibberellic acid, of course. Whatever that means.
Our dated rollermill is the key to preparing our grain for cooking. While some distillers think this method is too slow and produces a lower yield, it’s just fine for us. The slow process does not scorch the grain like a hammermill can. What can we say? That’s just how we roll.
Any good distiller/baker can tell you that pressure cookers and high-quality soft winter wheat do not mix.
By using an open cooker and a slower process that involves a lot of hands-on attention, we extend the subtle grain flavors into our whisky.
We are among the few remaining bourbon distillers that propagate their own yeast for fermentation with cultures that we can trace back to the pre-Prohibition era. We also use the traditional sour mash method, similar to making sourdough bread, where we always leave over some culture from one batch to start another. Guess you could say our yeast roots run deep.
Our rare cypress fermentation tanks are historically irreplaceable. Some of the planks are more than 100 years old.
Cypress was chosen for fermentation before modern stainless steel was available because it didn’t contribute iron or taste to the final product. While we don’t believe that cypress affects the process in any way, we continue to use some of these fermenters to give our visitors a sense of how the process used to look. That, and we’ve never believed in a sweet metal aftertaste.
Maker’s Mark double-distills its whisky — once in an all copper column still to produce what we call low wine and again in a copper pot still to produce high wine. This added step removes impurities and produces a more refined sipping whisky. Our low wine is distilled off at 120 proof, while our high wine is 130 proof.
We believe that this is the lowest distillation proof in the industry. We continue this more expensive practice because it preserves our mellow grain characteristics.
Most distillers choose not to rotate their barrels. Not us. We like ours to get out and move around. And by move around, we mean rotate. It ensures every barrel experiences the same aging process. And you know what they say: a moving barrel gathers no moss.