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Maker’s Mark 2020 Wood Finishing Series Review


When Maker’s Mark launched their Maker’s Mark 46 in 2010, they took what was already a very good Bourbon and turned it into something great. It was the first Bourbon in their Wood-Finishing Series and it’s one that we really enjoy. Last year they launched a much higher proof version (which we sadly didn’t get to try), and this year they upped the ante by staying at the higher proof (110.8 for the 2020 release) and adding not one, but two varieties of wood staves for the final finishing process.

Here’s what Maker’s Mark had to say about this very special 2020 release in a press release that landed in our inbox not so long ago:

“Since the introduction of Maker’s Mark 46, wood staves have become our tool of choice for unlocking and amplifying natural flavors already present in our classic Maker’s Mark – always purposefully and with a specific taste vision in mind,” says Jane Bowie, Director of Innovation at Maker’s Mark. “Where Maker’s Mark 46 was about creating a ‘bolder’ Maker’s, and the 2019 release was all about boosting the notes of baking spice and fruit, our 2020 Limited Release has been a quest to amp up those rich vanilla and buttery-caramel flavors that typically stem from our unique approach to seasoning our barrel wood outside for a full year.”

This year’s limited offering differs from its 2019 predecessor by utilizing two stave styles – one drawing on vanilla, the other on caramel – that when married together yield a rich Maker’s Mark reminiscent of butter pecan. The multi-stave approach was the result of more than twelve months of experimentation with Maker’s Mark barrel producer Independent Stave Company. The first stave in the 2020 Limited Release, SE4, is made from Virgin French Oak, convection cooked at medium heat with a short toast period and responsible for much of the caramel flavor. The second stave, PR5, is made from Virgin American Oak and convection cooked at low heat very slowly over time to bring out vanilla.

Like existing Wood Finishing Series offerings Maker’s Mark 46 and Maker’s Mark Private Selection®, the 2020 Limited Release was purposefully crafted by finishing fully-matured, cask strength Maker’s Mark in secondary barrels containing the proprietary wood staves. The barrels were then rested in the Maker’s Mark limestone bourbon cellar where the cask strength bourbon interacts with the staves, before being mingled together to develop the expression’s unique flavor.

You have to love a brand that isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and play around with a tried and true recipe in the name of bigger and bolder flavor. To find out if all of this messing about results in a delicious whiskey, click the play button on the following video:

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Many thanks to EVINS for sending us this very generous sample!

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