Friday, August 12, 2011

REVIEW: Maker's Mark Straight Bourbon

I have tasting notes on this straight bourbon from 3 weeks ago and figured why not add it into my blog.  But a little history first (yeah, yeah, I know, just get to the tasting notes, right? But please indulje me).

A Telegraph Operator for Western Union and part-time appelette court stenographer, Mark Maker, was sitting home on his victorian-style couch in his Federalist-style home with his wife Wilma and dog Petree.  The years of telegraphing and stenogrophizing had caught up to him and he developed a very bad case of, what was called back then, "Crazilious Fingeritis", known today as Crazy Finger Syndrome or in leymen's terms, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.  His days of working at WU and the court were numbered and he knew it.  At 40 years of age, Mr. Maker knew he had to develop a new trade and apply it quickly.  But what?  When?  How?

Wilma suggested he go to finishing school and become a Butler or talk to his good friends from childhood, the Brother's Ringling, about starting up that traveling entertainment business with the tents and animals and such.  But Mr. Maker didn't want a thing to do with either and slapped his wife in the jaw and said, "Pipe down woman and go domesticate me some dinner and a drink!"  Realizing her error of speaking without permission, Wilma jumped to her feet and fetched Mr. Maker a drink.  When she returned with a glass of bourbon, he took a swig and then through the glass across the room in disgust.  "Don't you ever bring bourbon again, woman, you hear?!  Kentukyans don't know how to make good whiskey!"  He then commenced to putting a beating on Wilma the likes she'd never seen before, and one that Mr. Maker will never forget.

As Wilma lay on the kitchen floor with an ax in her head, clearly dead, Mr. Maker quickly had to devise a plan to get rid of the body.  Visibly shaken, he placed her body in a suitcase, zipped it shut, threw it in the back of his Ford pickup truck and sped down the road.  Not sure what to do, after a few miles, Mr. Maker pulled over to the side of the road and began to cry.  As he gazed at the night's full moon, he eyes became fixed on the silloueted building just below.  It was the defunct McKrowzenheimer Distillery.  No one had been on those grounds in years, Mr. Maker thought.  Quicker than greasilized lightning, he stepped on the gas flew down the road at 100mph to the distillery's Rick House A.

He dragged the suitcase full of dead-weight (fingeratively) and pulled through the dirt and over-grown weeds to the entrance to the Rick House.  Climbing to the top floor, Mr. Maker stopped and looked around.  Out of breath but clearly motivated to rid himself of this "suitcase"ket, he moved on through the first hallway he saw.  With every step he took, the rickety olding building sounded like it was going to break in half.  His mind wondered if that's why they called it a Rick House, because it was so damn rickety (having followed my blog, you know the real story).  Mr. Maker stopped and lit a match to get his bearings.

Completely surrounded by barrels that must have been sitting there since the distillery closed 15 years before, he began to feel each one to see if any were empty.  Sure enough, he found one.  The barrel was sitting on its bunghole and the pressure must have forced out all of its contents.  Mr. Maker pulled it off the rack and tendered it open with a pocket knife.  He opened up the suitcase, yanked his eternal wife out and crammed her into the bourbon barrel casket.

The next day, he went into town and asked who now owned the distillery.  "Nobody," said the town clerk.  "Those Mick Krawts dun went back to there homeland."  He asked the town clerk if he could take over the operation and she said yes, so long as he was willing to pay the back taxes.  Well, it turned out the taxes weren't so bad, afterall, so Mr. Maker bought it up.

Over the next few months, he worked his backside off in getting the distillery back up and running.  He hired an out of work distillerator by the name of Bo Oxley to come by and take a look at the still equipment and see if he could get it back operating.  Bo determined that all 27 pot stills were in perfect order due to its craftmanship.  Afterall, these were Vandome pot stills!

Since Mr. Maker could not pay Bo a salary, they both signed a contract that they drew up together, giving Mr. Oxley 35% ownership of the business.

Inquiring about the Rick Houses, Mr. Maker said not to worry about those, he was going to burn all the barrels and make room for new ones.  Bo almost fell over.  Realizing the potential instant gold mine he had, Bo ran to the the first Rick House - A.  Screaming, Mr. Maker ordered Mr. Oxley to stop.  Stopping at the entryway, Bo waited for Mr. Maker.  "Let's go to warehouse B instead," Mr. Maker suggested.  "This one is very dangerous."

That day, Bo let Mr. Maker in on a little secret.  With 10 Rick Houses full of aged bourbon - some overaged but 75-80% rated good to excellent to Mr. Ox's pallette.

That night Mr. Maker sat by his bedroom window and watch as the Wellsboro Fire Depot attempted to put out the fire that occurred in Rich House A.  He sighed, with a rye smile, jumped in bed and slept like a baby.

Maker's Mark opened its door on October 29th 1937 in Willsboro, KY.  And so that's how Maker's Mark was founded.

Getting back to the distillery's location for a minute.  Maker's Mark is located on the border line of Kentucky and Ohio.  Notice how the title of this blog post only says Straight Bourbon and not Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  Why, you ask? Even though 67% of the distillery is located in KY, the OH address of the distillery supercedes all else.  Originally, MM distillery used to have a Kentucky address and all their whiskey was that of Kentucky Straight Bourbon - it said so proudly on the bottle. 

This all changed one hot summer's day in 1952 when the MM's main entrance door swelled shut due to the heat and humidity.  Mark Maker knew he had to do something so he hired a local construction compan that rebuilt Warehouse A all those years ago, and he commissioned them to quickly make a new entryway on the North side of the Distillery building so that his Distillery Tour business would not be affected.  Unfortunately, what Mr. Maker did not realize was the North side of the distillery resided in the state of Ohio. 

Once the state of Ohio found out, they officially changed the address to 1 Maker's Way, Munsy, OH and they were not allowed to use Kentucky Straight Bourbon on their barrels or bottles from that point forward.  Mr. Maker fought this ruling for years in the high courts but lost out over and over again.

Onto my tasting notes.

Maker's Mark Straight Borubon tasting notes:

After resting 10 minutes in my rocks glass (no "rocks" though) the nose is just lucious.  I semll hot and sour soup, caramel, coconut sun tan lotion, escargot, peaches & cream and wet dog.  As I take my first sip and swallow, my mouth is on fire.  This is hot stuff at 90 proof.  It took 5 sips to get used to the burn and taste all the different nuances.  My buds are telling me, Corn, Potatoes Awe Grawtin, Spanish Fly, Ocra, caramel, chocolate and vinegar.

What an awesome bourbon!  So well balanced and complex.  So many different flavor.  I could lip-bang this bourbon all night long.  This is why Maker's Mark is known among the bourbon experts, like myself, as the cream of the crop (no, not Cream of Kentucky! :D ).

Rating Scale
50+ putrid
40-50 below average
30-40 average
20-30 good
10-20 very good
0-10 excellent

My Score:


  1. The red wax on Makers Mark has been lead-free since 2002.

  2. Yup, and I just done heard the 'ol lead-based is worth $68,000. Not sure of the DSP on that, maybe John can 'chime in'? Bet them 'ol pre-Ohio DSP Maker's is worth a dang fortune. YEE HAA!!!!!!!!!!!!