Maker's Mark "Redder Velvet" Private Selection Bourbon
Private barrel programs are a fairly straightforward affair - barrels that qualify are set aside by the distillery, the store making the purchase will make a selection or have the distillery choose a barrel for them, the bottled whiskey is delivered shortly after. Of course, how one crafts a great barrel of whiskey is a bit more complicated. But as you dig into bourbon lore, or if you find yourself in Kentucky visiting distilleries, you will learn about the important elements that differentiate each producer and impact every barrel; how tall are the rickhouses, are they temperature controlled, what type of floor does it have, where in the rickhouse was the barrel aged. You’ll also begin to expect just about every distillery to share one particular call out, “we don’t rotate our barrels.” Maker’s Mark has famously built their brand and reputation around a single flavor profile, and every bottle of Maker’s will deliver that experience. Their classic soft and sweet bourbon profile is a reflection of both their wheated mash bill and singular devotion to barrel rotation, moving them around the rickhouse to smooth out the distinct effects a lower floor, or center location would impart.
This consistency has also inspired their private selection program, designed to isolate and dig into, not the rickhouse influence, but woods precise impact. By sourcing multiple varieties of oak, and changing how it is treated, cut, seared, roasted, toasted, and charred, a vast library of profiles and possibilities open up. Whiskey enthusiasts love for wheated bourbon is showing no signs of slowing down, and with wood finishing almost certainly the most significant current trend in bourbon, good old Maker’s is as relevant as ever. Now in our second round of private selection – the bourbon itself keeps getting better too.
For our last go we crafted three distinct profiles, the summer fruit infused Spiced Cobbler, the dry fruit and oak of Holiday Bombe, and the lush vanilla and cocoa swirl of our Red Velvet. Feedback was positive across the board – but only one was the first to go. Our brand new “Redder Velvet” barrel was inspired by the favorite of that last round, with the stave distribution tweaked to lean even further into our original concept. The number of Baked American Pure staves has been increased, for an incredibly distinct vanilla, swirling a sip around you can practically taste the frosting and slowly caramelized wood sugars. And while the original left out the Seared French Cuvee, this bottle includes all three variations of French oak. They layer together to create a decadent, complex, and roundly delicious blend of cocoa and spice. The mouthfeel is coating and intense, practically cakey, with dark chocolate lingering on the long finish. Nosing your empty glass will bring out oak, dense fruitcake, caramel toasted wheat, cocoa graham crackers, and a touch of ginger. A bourbon as charming as they come.
(Recipe: 4 Baked American Pure, 1 Seared French Cuvee, 1 Maker's Mark 46, 2 Roasted French Mendiant, 2 Toasted French Spice.)