Maker’s ‘46’ is essentially a variation on traditional Makers Mark, whereby the finished product is transferred in just–emptied barrels containing a series of heavily seared French Oak staves – the number ’46’ refers to the stave profile utilized, not the ABV – which is left to interact, and season the Bourbon for an additional 2-3 month period.
The searing eliminates any tannic bitterness within the oak, contributing a series of spicy notes otherwise non-existent with traditional wheat Bourbon profiles.
This is original “Red Wax” Maker’s Mark bourbon that received additional aging in barrels containing internal “seared” French Oak staves. The original Maker’s Mark, being a wheated bourbon (instead of rye, which is typically used), is a rather mellow, easy-to-drink bourbon. The French Oak staves in “46” add firm, complex, dry spices (lead by warming cinnamon, followed by nutmeg and clove), herb (a suggestion of Green Chartreuse liqueur, perhaps?), and some polished leather “grip”, which dovetails well with Maker’s trademark layered sweetness (caramel, vanilla, a hint of honey). I’m also picking up some dried fruit in the background. The seared oak stave influence is somewhat aggressive but never to the point of being excessive… Rating: 90 Points- John Hansell -www.whiskyadvocateblog.com