Outdoors of notes like pepper and baking spice, vanilla and caramel are two of the far more widespread flavors affiliated with bourbons across the board. So how hard could it be to craft a bourbon whiskey that pays homage to these two flavors in particular?
Simply nosing the most up-to-date exclusive launch bourbon from Maker’s Mark’s Wood Ending Sequence a single may not promptly surmise that dialing in the incredibly nicely-built-in dollops of sugary caramel and round vanilla was a intricate task. But glimpsing the launch code-like title on the bottle of the 2020 Confined Release—officially designated “SE4 X PR5”—you commence to get the thought that this whiskey is far more challenging than these two major notes propose.
Really serious admirers of Maker’s Mark know the Loretto, KY-primarily based distillery prolonged resisted the whiskey industry’s development toward minimal edition bottlings and exclusive launch whiskeys, opting instead to emphasis on what it does so nicely: offering an superb and much-beloved wheated bourbon bought less than a singular label in a singular expression (in an legendary wax-dipped bottle, no much less). The addition of a single new expression—Maker’s 46—to the distillery’s main selection in 2010 was a momentous function for a distillery that had for so prolonged chosen to do a single matter incredibly nicely, and only a single matter.
But the moment you commence tinkering it’s hard to stop, and the new annually unveiled Wood Ending Series—now in just its second edition—is an outgrowth of the experimentation that shipped Maker’s forty six. Rather of playing around with cask ending or mixing, Maker’s forty six is crafted by having a cask of original recipe Maker’s Mark bourbon and inserting a stave of specifically cured French Oak into the liquid toward the finish of its maturation, imparting added flavors to the bourbon. Obtaining to that unique wood ending procedure with that unique type of French Oak normally generated a good deal of stave experimentation and a substantial (and however growing) entire body of awareness around stave-ending and its impacts on Maker’s Mark’s exclusive liquid. It would’ve been a disgrace to depart all people experiments and all that awareness on the reducing place floor.
With its to start with minimal edition, Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation Jane Bowie and her crew experimented relentlessly to obtain a stave profile—titled “RC6”—that would ratchet up the flavors of baking spice and fruit, notes affiliated with the distillery’s proprietary yeast pressure. For this second iteration, Bowie and her crew desired to nod to the exclusive program of further-prolonged air drying and toasting all of its wood staves undertake prior to getting made into barrels and loaded with bourbon—a procedure that will help bring out unique flavors in the whiskey.
The style vision was straightforward: hefty vanilla, hefty caramel, some spice for stability, and no tannin. “We thought, ‘this is gonna be so straightforward,’” Bowie states. “Vanilla and caramel, the two most widespread tasting notes that occur out of people’s mouths when they speak about most bourbons.” But it soon became obvious that people unique flavors were coming from two distinctive elements of the stave cooking procedure, and were in simple fact very best imparted by completely distinctive kinds of wood. “We started realizing that we were going to will need to use two distinctive staves,” Bowies states.
In addition, experiments confirmed that vanilla notes seriously started to shine amongst two and four months right after the stave was inserted into the bourbon cask, although the caramel notes started to pop far more like five or six months in. In other words, they couldn’t set both staves in the identical barrel, they were going to have to make two distinctive bourbons and blend them.
In the finish, they ended up making a few. The bourbon completed with the vanilla-boosting stave—labeled “PR5”—makes up far more than 50 percent of the blend. The caramel boosting “SE4” stave imparted drastically distinctive (but fascinating) caramel notes at five months and six months in the barrel, so Bowie and corporation formulated their remaining blend to consist of two SE4 bourbons, a single at five months of ending and the other at six months.
That may seem to be a prolonged road to travel just to punch up the vanilla and caramel notes in a Kentucky bourbon, but the effects speak for by themselves. On the nose this bourbon will work as marketed, with a walloping dose of warm dessert aromas (or it’s possible a gooey, decadent, cinnamon-dusted breakfast pastry is a better analog right here). But on the palate, you’re reminded that regardless of the marquee notes of vanilla and caramel, this is eventually a tribute to wood. The aforementioned flavors are there, but also a healthy dose of spicy, toasty oak to stability out people sweeter notes. You finish up in the realm of butter pecan ice product drizzled with caramel, which is a great place to be. This is dessert bourbon via and via, while much like dessert you can seriously appreciate it whenever.
With this cask power (one hundred ten.eight evidence) offering, Maker’s is now two-for-two with its minimal edition choices, suggesting we have far more great matters coming from the distillery’s ongoing stave ending experiments. Presented all the operate and experimentation that went into making it, the incredibly fair prompt retail rate of $sixty seems small.