Maker's Mark Distillery - 2024 Wood Finishing Series, The Heart Release Bottle

Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky makes one thing, a wheated bourbon whiskey made with a soft red winter wheat. Back in 2019 Maker’s introduced the Wood Finishing Series. It was phase one of a five-year plan to take fully matured cask strength Maker’s Mark and finish it with 10 specially selected oak staves, using various finishing techniques like cooking in a convection oven or cooking with open flame, then place them in a barrel for a few weeks in Maker’s whiskey cellar until the desired taste vision was achieved.

Introducing Maker’s Mark ‘The Heart Release’

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Now, in 2024 Maker’s is introducing phase two with a new five-year vision for the Wood Finishing Series. One thing you’ll notice with this latest release is the R2D2 naming convention is being retired. Some will be sorry to see it go while others will welcome the new naming convention that Maker’s says will connect better with consumers.

The original series emphasized the production process that impacts the flavor of Maker’s Mark. The new series will focus on the teams behind Maker’s Mark, the makers. The first release in the new series is ‘The Heart Release’. This whiskey was created to celebrate the unique role the people crafting the bourbon play in delivering the Maker’s experience.

“Always staying true to my grandparents, our founders’ vision to deliver a full-flavored, soft red winter wheat bourbon with a smooth finish, Maker’s Mark continues to shape the brand’s future through purposeful, flavor-driven innovation,” said Rob Samuels, eighth generation whisky maker and Managing Director for Maker’s Mark. “This Wood Finishing Series release celebrates the entire distillery team, who share our vision and who have contributed their perspective to craft the final expression.” 

In the creation of ‘The Heart Release’ Maker’s Sr. Manager, Innovation & Blending Beth Buckner and Sr. Director & Head of Innovation, Blending, Quality J. Blake Layfield, Ph.D. interviewed distillery team members that make the whiskey. During brainstorming sessions team members described aromas and flavors they experience throughout their day, which helped us shape the flavors of this release. Some flavors that stood out were caramel, chocolate and maple. With those flavors identified the next step was to test and select 10 oak staves that would deliver on that desired flavor profile.

“We started playing around [to achieve this flavor profile] and ended up with a fifty-fifty blend of two different staves, both of these staves are toasted French oak,” explained Sr. Manager, Innovation & Blending Beth Buckner. “One was finished for five weeks; the second stave was finished for nine weeks. So, it was a different aging time, different cooking techniques on the stave even though they were both French oak, but that fifty-fifty blend did something beautiful. On their own the whiskies were good, but bringing those two staves together actually created the whiskey in the glass, and it’s one of the most maple forward Maker’s Mark I’ve ever tasted in my life.”

Watch as Beth Buckner and Blake Layfield Explain ‘The Heart Release’ Creation Process

Maker’s Mark ‘The Heart Release’ Tasting Notes

The Heart Release celebrates the team that distils Maker’s bourbon whisky, the people who sit at the heart of Maker’s, guiding and setting the tone for so much of what they do. It is fruit forward, with caramel, maple, and chocolate notes, this expression features a rich, with a delightful creamy mouthfeel.

Aroma – Toasted sweetness, stone fruit, cocoa
Taste – Brown sugar, maple, spice
Finish – Creamy, dark chocolate, long silky finish
Proof – Cask Strength. Each batch will vary between 107°-114° (53.5 – 57 ABV)
Staves – 10 Toasted French Oak Staves

Maker’s Mark 2024 The Heart Release Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky is bottled between 107°-114° and will be offered with a suggested retail price of $74.99 for a 750mL bottle. It will be available nationwide beginning in July 2024.

What is the Wood Stave Finishing Series?

Wood Finishing Series is a collection of one-of-a-kind expressions that use an innovative wood stave-finishing technique to enhance distinctive characteristics already present in the brand’s iconic bourbon. 10 specially selected oak staves are used to create unique, limited-edition expressions of Maker’s Mark.

Related Stories
– Maker’s Mark Head of Innovation Jane Bowie Explains the 2 Year Process that led to RC6 Bourbon Whisky
– Maker’s Mark Fills the World’s First Barrel of Bourbon with ‘Certified Regenified’ Corn and Wheat
– Watch as Maker’s Mark 8th Generation Distiller Rob Samuels Introduces Certified Regenified Bourbon [VIDEO]
– For the 1st Time in 70 Years, Maker’s Mark Launches an 11- & 12-Year-Old Cask Strength ‘Cellar Aged’ Kentucky Bourbon

Learn more about Maker’s Mark Distillery.
View all Bardstown/Nelson County Distilleries.
View all Kentucky Distilleries.
View all U.S. Distilleries.

In 1953, in Loretto, Ky. Bill Samuels, Sr., fulfilled his dream to create a handmade and delicious bourbon. He decided to make his whisky in small batches, using soft red winter wheat to enhance the softness and sweetness. He then rotated each barrel by hand for consistency and, finally, aged each barrel to taste. While he developed the bourbon, his wife Margie Samuels ideated the bourbon’s name and label, standout bottle shape, iconic and signature look that still involves hand-dipping each bottle in red wax to this day. Together as co-founders, Bill and Margie transformed bourbon from a “commodity” into a premium handmade spirit, and today Maker’s Mark® Kentucky Straight Bourbon continues to be crafted in the same, purposeful way.

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