Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky has historically been known for one thing, making a super-premium red winter wheat Kentucky Bourbon Whisky. A bourbon that is aged to taste, not a date. That age range is typically between 5 to 7 years. Fans have been asking for a longer aged Maker’s for years.
Maker’s has been using the same 70% corn, 16% red winter wheat, and 14% malted barley mash bill, yeast, fermentation, distillation and maturation process for nearly 70 years. In 2010 they made news when Bill Samuels, Jr., introduced Maker’s 46 to leave his own mark on the brand before his retirement. In 2019 they introduced the Private Select Series. Both these product lines took fully matured Maker’s Mark and aged it for an additional number of weeks with a variety of American or French oak staves inserted inside a barrel. Originally those Maker’s 46 barrels were only aged in the cooler months where the temperature in the rickhouse would remain below 50° Fahrenheit. The idea was to get the bourbon to interact with the wood in the staves and not the wooden barrel.
Maker’s Mark Opens the World’s 1st Limestone Whisky Cellar
To keep up with demand of Maker’s 46 and Private Select Maker’s decided to create their own Whisky Cellar which would stay cool year-round. The Whisky Cellar was created when construction crews set off dynamite to blow out a portion of a large limestone hillside. Using dynamite for anything is risky in and of itself in this case it was doubly risky because the distillery sits about 100 yards from the low side of limestone wall and on the upper side of the hill is Heritage Lake. That lake is the water source for every drop of Maker’s Mark. To say the least, the stakes were high. And since you never heard about a wall of water flooding Maker’s Mark Distillery back in 2016, we are happy to report that it all worked out fine. That said, if you visit the Whisky Cellar on rainy days, it’s not uncommon to watch the water drip through the cracks in the limestone wall. You can learn more about the Whisky Cellar here.
Introducing Maker’s Mark ‘Cellar Aged’, A Maker’s Matured in a Limestone Whisky Cellar
After many, many years of consumers asking for a more mature Maker’s Mark the brand has finally delivered. Maker’s Mark has announced Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Bourbon, an annual, global limited-release expression that proves whisky aging is about more than just a number. Featuring a marriage of 11- and 12-year-old bourbon, Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged delivers the distillery’s highly anticipated oldest release, stemming from the question: What if age isn’t just about time, but instead about how you use that time to evolve, develop and mature?
Maker’s Mark Distillery Senior Manager of Innovation and Blending Beth Buckner introduces Maker’s Mark ‘Cellar Series’ an 11- and 12-year-old blend of bourbon whisky.
Maker’s Mark Distillery Senior Director and Head of Innovation, Blending, Quality Blake Layfield, Ph.D. talks about innovating at Maker’s Mark.
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Since its founding in 1953, Maker’s Mark has aged its whisky to taste – not time – to achieve the vision set by its founders: bourbon without the bite that’s always smooth, soft, and creamy. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged stays true to this philosophy, delivering a richer, deeper, and more complex older bourbon, free from the harsher tannic effects commonly found in extra-aged American whiskies, as a result of its innovative maturation process that starts in traditional Kentucky warehouses and finishes in the distillery’s one-of-a-kind limestone whisky cellar.
“For more than 65 years, aging our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did,” said Rob Samuels, 8th generation whisky maker and grandson of the founders at Maker’s Mark. “It’s not that we didn’t believe in it; we simply hadn’t found a way to do it that didn’t compromise on our taste vision – until now. Cellar Aged embodies an older whisky that’s distinctly Maker’s Mark. One rooted in challenging convention, delivering new flavor experiences from the environment that surrounds us, and building on a taste vision that’s been generations in the making.”
How They Created Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Bourbon Whiskey
To become Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, barrels of the distillery’s classic distillate first spend approximately six years aging in traditional bourbon warehouses, where they endure the Kentucky climate and its temperature swings season after season until they reach full maturity and can be bottled as Maker’s Mark. Barrels are then moved into the distillery’s proprietary whisky cellar for an additional five to six years of aging before being blended to taste and bottled. Built into the natural limestone shelf of the Kentucky hills, the cellar’s consistently cool environment slows down the tannic impact that occurs during maturation, while allowing the bourbon to develop a deeper, darker flavor with hidden depths, but no bitterness.
Maker’s says this innovative and taste-led approach in pursuit of an older Maker’s Mark expression continues the boundary-pushing mindset that has shaped the brand since the beginning. Founders Bill and Margie Samuels challenged category norms when they burned their 170-year-old family recipe, choosing to use red winter wheat instead of rye in their mashbill for a softer, smoother bourbon.
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Price & Release Date
The inaugural release of Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is a blend of 87% 12-year-old and 13% 11-year-old bourbon whisky bottled at cask strength of 115.7 proof (57.85% ABV). Cellar Aged will be available for a suggested retail price of $150.00 in the United States beginning in September 15, 2023. This will be followed by a release in London, Munich and select Global Travel Retail accounts in October 2023; and in Tokyo and Singapore in early 2024.
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged will be an annual, limited release available in specific markets around the world. The unique maturation approach of Cellar Aged will be consistent every year, but the specific blend of aged bourbon will vary based on which barrels are ready, by taste.
Maker’s Mark 2023 Cellar Aged Kentucky Bourbon Whisky
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