Maker’s 46 – the first-ever new bourbon from the distillery, save for the limited-edition (and now highly rare) Maker’s Mark Select – differs from the regular Maker’s Mark in that it is finished in a barrel containing 10 ‘seared’ French oak staves, for about three months. It will also be bottled at 47% abv (94% proof), compared with the regular’s 45% abv (90% proof).
The staves, sourced from the Vosges area of eastern France, are aged for 18 months, then seared – a gentler process than full charring. Maker’s 46 takes its name from the Missouri-based Independent Stave Company, where the staves are sourced: 46 refers to the number that the firm gave to the staves, which are exclusive to Maker’s Mark.
Master distiller Kevin Smith said: “This is new. We’ve had some variations in proof before, but it’s always essentially been the same liquid. Maker’s 46 is very forward and spicy, with an almost-cinnamon nose. It’ll be all over the US from July. We like to do something new about every 50 years, and shake things up a bit!”
He added that if successful, Maker’s 46 will be available in duty-free outlets globally, and then in key export markets, including the UK. Maker’s 46 will retail in the US for $33, $10 more than the regular Maker’s. Smith also revealed that the Maker’s Mark distillery had just begun an expansion – its third, following the second in 2002 – which when complete, in 2012–2013, will treble the distillery’s original capacity.