There has been a long debate between the Distillers and the warehouse leader about who has a more vital role in making whiskey. Lincoln Henderson always said that you have to get it right at every step of the way, so, in my opinion, it has to be distilled correctly at the beginning, or there is nothing that can be done in the warehouse to make it good. With that said, Denny Potter and Jane Bowie took this debate to a new level.
Each of them, with some help I am sure from their respective teams, picked a barrel selection recipe for Maker’s Mark. They were very different stave selections and the result was two very different whiskeys. We have a bottle of each, purchased through the Maker’s Mark Whiskey Drop program, and Matt and I tasted each. In the end, we were split on our favorite. I like a fruity whiskey with lots of caramel and vanilla, whereas Matt likes a spicy whiskey. I guess the debate will have to continue on between Jane and Denny! Here are our tasting notes. Read them and decide for yourself which is the tastier whiskey.
Maker’s Mark 2022 Master Distiller Selection
Stave Profile: 3 Baked American Pure, 2 Seared French Curvee, 3 Maker’s Mark 46, 2 Toasted French Spice.
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Caramel with pears and blackberries, baking spices and oak wood.
- Matt: Caramel. pears, berries and cinnamon spice with oak wood.
- Mike: Caramel, ripe pears and raspberries, cinnamon and ginger spice and sweet oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the fruit moves into the background and it becomes very spicy. Tasted with a pecan and the fruit and spice move into the background and vanilla and oak become the dominant flavors.
- Matt: Caramel. candied pears, raspberries, cardamom spice and sweet oak wood. The dried cranberry gave it notes of cinnamon and ripe apple. The pecan brought out notes of chocolate, buttered popcorn and nutmeg.
- Mike: Long with oak, spice and lingering fruit notes. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter and sweeter. The pecan made the finish long with lots of oak.
- Matt: Long with oak and baking spices. The dried cranberry made it very spicy with notes of ginger. The pecan gave the finish a buttery note with lots of spice.
Maker’s Mark 2022 Master of Maturation Selection
Stave Profile: 2 Baked American Pure, 4 Maker’s Mark 46, 3 Roasted French Mocha, 1 Toasted French Spice.
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Vanilla, bananas, toasted hazelnuts, baking spices and oak wood.
- Matt: Vanilla, bananas, hazelnuts, citrus and oak wood.
- Mike: Banana pudding with lots of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg spice and a hint of sweet oak wood. The dried cranberry enhanced the vanilla and brought out a hint of coffee. The pecan enhanced the hazelnut and banana with a hint of chocolate.
- Matt: Bananas Foster with a creamy mouthfeel. Lots of vanilla and a hint of tangerine. The dried pecan brought out notes of cherries and tangerine with lots of vanilla – like a cherry cake. The pecan brought out notes of nutmeg and oak.
- Mike: Medium long with oak and spice with lingering vanilla sweetness. The dried cranberry made the finish spicier with cinnamon and oak. The pecan made the finish very long and sweet with bananas and vanilla – like a banana split.
- Matt: Lots of oak and spice – hot Mexican food spices. The dried cranberry add some citrus notes to the spicy finish. The pecan added notes of tobacco and Poblano pepper.
I would pair these whiskeys with a cigar that is full of vanilla and cedar spice in the smoke. I would reach for a Fuente Opus X. These Maker’s Mark Private Selection Barrels are always unique. In the end, Matt reluctantly agreed he liked Jane’s selection a little better than Denny’s selection. We both look forward to the next time they pick barrel their stave selection and release a new challenge.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller