Several years ago, Maker’s Mark created Maker’s Mark 46 using ten additional wooden staves inserted into barrels of their fully aged Bourbon. From this program came their “Private Selection” barrels where customers could choose any combination of five different staves inserted into their barrel for their own unique flavor profile of Maker’s Mark. The program has been a success and bars and liquor stores across the nation now offer their own take on Maker’s Mark 46 to customers. Maker’s Mark RC6 is the latest offering using this process.
The “RC6” staves are made from American Oak aged outdoors for 18 months before being toasted in a convection oven. Outdoor seasoning of oak over a long period of time creates a different flavor profile than kiln-dried staves in normal Bourbon staves. The wind and the rain allow the oak to lose some of the bitter tannins and bacteria break down other compounds in the wood to create complex flavors not found in kiln-dried oak.
The results in this product are very heavy caramel and butterscotch flavors that are very nice for those people who love these flavors in Bourbon. I happen to be one of those people. There is less spice in this Whiskey than the Maker’s Mark 46. However, there is not the complexity that is found in the Private Select barrels with the multiple staves adding flavors. When you purchase this bottle ($59.99 suggested retail price), don’t hold it to the same standards as the Private Select barrels, because it is not meant to be like that. With only one type of stave, it is an extension of Maker’s Mark 46 line of whiskeys. The RC6 stave will not be offered in the Private Select stave mix, so this truly is a unique product. It is a limited release offered only at the distillery and selected retail stores. I suspect that this is the first of many other such limited releases Maker’s Mark is going to offer in the future using single types of staves in the finishing process.
Makers Mark RC6
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Green apples, caramel, and a lot of sweet oak. As it opens up with time in the glass, buttered caramel toffee comes forward to dominate the nose.
Taste: Tart green apples, caramel and a little pepper spice. A hint of milk chocolate and oak linger in the background. Tasted with a dried cranberry brings forward the caramel at the cost of reduced apple and pepper. Tasted with a pecan and the oak comes forward and the apple takes on a lemon zest citrus note with less pepper. Makes the pecan taste like a praline candy.
Finish: Long and dry with oak and pepper spice. The cranberry shortens the finish and reduces the pepper spice, allowing the oak to dominate the finish. The pecan enhanced the finish with lots of oak and pepper with a hint of that lemon zest.
I decided that I would pair this whiskey with a Nat Sherman Schrader cigar. This cigar was designed to pair well with wine, but I thought it might do well with the tart apple note in the whiskey. I find the smoke to be rich tobacco with a hint of hay, with some vanilla and cedar spiciness. The whiskey added some more vanilla sweetness and sweet baking spice notes to the smoke. The smoke made the whiskey rich with a dark chocolate note and a hint of cherries, caramel and baking spice. A very good pairing that I may repeat soon.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller