Last March I was invited to participate in a behind-the-scenes look at how Maker’s Mark picks their wood project series of whiskeys. Jane Bowie invited me and several other whiskey writers to her lab at the distillery. I have written about the experience and now the whiskeys we looked at have been released. If you are part of the Maker’s Mark Whiskey Drop program, you will have received these bottles.
The first whiskey, BRT-01, is a look at the flavors achieved from aging whiskey on the top floors of the warehouse. The barrels selected were all chosen from the top floors of a warehouse and had not been rotated. They were then dumped and re-barreled with ten American oak staves. The second whiskey, BRT-02, was a study of barrels aged on the bottom floor of the warehouse, and again not rotated and with ten French oak spice staves added to the barrels for aging. They are very different flavor profiles. Matt and I tasted these whiskeys and here are our notes.
Maker’s Mark BRT-01 Wood Project Whiskey
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Cinnamon up front with vanilla, apples and oak wood.
- Matt: Vanilla, caramel, cinnamon and oak wood.
- Mike: Caramel, apples, cinnamon, and lots of it, with oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the vanilla and caramel are enhanced. Tasted with a pecan and there is even more caramel and a little milk chocolate.
- Matt: Caramel, apples, cinnamon and oak wood. The dried cranberry made the caramel stronger and dominates the flavor. The pecan added some cocoa, chocolate and buttered pecan notes.
- Mike: Long with oak wood and lots of cinnamon. The dried cranberry made the finish sweeter with lingering caramel. The pecan made the cinnamon stronger but added lingering chocolate sweetness.
- Matt: Long with cinnamon and oak. The dried cranberry added notes of leather and white pepper. The pecan made the finish longer with spicy nutmeg, pepper spice and oak wood.
Maker’s Mark BRT-02 Wood Project Whiskey
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Caramel. maple syrup, dark fruit – plums and raisins, oak wood.
- Matt: Caramel, maple syrup, apples and oak wood.
- Mike: Caramel, maple syrup, chocolate, cinnamon, raisins and oak wood. The dried cranberry reduced the cinnamon but enhanced the maple syrup flavor. The pecan added more chocolate and cinnamon spice.
- Matt: Maple syrup, salted caramel, apples and oak wood. The dried cranberry added flavors of cocoa butter, peanuts and nutmeg. The pecan added notes of caramel, cocoa and spicy oak wood.
- Mike: Long with lots of oak and cinnamon. The dried cranberry added some lingering maple syrup sweetness. The pecan made the finish very long with oak, cinnamon and lingering chocolate.
- Matt: Caramello candy and spicy oak wood. The dried cranberry added flavors of chocolate and red pepper spice. The pecan made the finish longer with tobacco, oak and red pepper spice.
I would pair these whiskeys with a cigar rich in vanilla and chocolate in the smoke. I would reach for one of my favorite cigars, a My Father The Judge.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller