The Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series has a new release – FAE-02, which is the fourth iteration of this limited edition line of Maker’s Mark.
“This has been a storytelling series for us,” says Jane Bowie. “We were learning a ton through the Private Select series and just through our own curiosity.”
Over the last several years, Maker’s mark has worked with many different types of staves and treatments and how they impact the end flavor of Maker’s Mark Bourbon.
“This whole series is about making unique, extreme whiskeys,” Bowie says. “We are really married to the taste vision, we are less married to the process.” Maker’s Mark still propagates yeast on site. The differences in the limited releases are in the agricultural process, from grain to stave.
Maker’s Mark worked closely with Independent Stave Cooperage nearby to develop the flavor profiles for this project. This was the first research project Independent Stave did at their Kentucky Research Center. Every aspect of the wood was studied, from the air drying to the kiln drying to various treatments in infrared ovens, fires, and more. Then each type of treatment was tested for different time periods in the whiskey to test the optimal timeframe for finishing.
Everything is done blind, so unless Maker’s Mark actually uses a particular treatment or stave they aren’t told which one it was. Whiskeys are tasted every week starting at week one up to 16 weeks. They only continue beyond 16 weeks in certain circumstances after adjustments have been made to part of the process in pursuit of a specific goal.
“We’ve been reluctant to make any real changes,” Bowie says of Maker’s Mark as a brand before research for this project began several years ago. “Some of the heavier oilier congeners are going to make it through on our stills. Those fatty acid esters are something we work to keep in the whiskey. When we started whiteboarding this whiskey a couple of years ago, we got into a big argument about flavor versus texture and the roles they both play in the taste of a whiskey. We wanted to create a whiskey that showcased flavor and another that showcased texture, the first time we ever focused on texture in a whiskey.”
Barrel extractives and dark fruit notes were the focus of some of the earlier limited releases. But the FAE releases are heavily focused on texture and mouthfeel. This year’s releases even included staves that had one raw side so they could take on some of the raw oak characteristics.
This release is made up of two staves: first French oak half raw, and second infrared oven plus open fire precision toast. It was also made with ten staves per barrel just like the Private Select process and the previous wood finishing series. The whisky is 8 weeks 4 days old whiskey treated for about ten weeks.
On the nose are notes of buttered cinnamon raisin toast and lemon zest. The palate features an immediate punch of cinnamon and clove with a very oily caramel mouthfeel and notes of toasted walnuts.
109.1 Proof Cask Strength
Available Now In Limited Quantities in retailers across the USA and in Maker’s Mark’s Whisky Drop.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl and Maker’s Mark