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A K&L Exclusive Single Barrel from Kentucky Legend Maker’s Mark - 11/07/2019 - Other Distilled Spirits

If you enjoy high-proof wheated bourbons in the mold of Pappy Van Winkle and Old Fitzgerald, then you’re bound to love our most recent K&L exclusive barrel from Maker’s Mark. Through an innovative program, our spirits buyers are given the opportunity to blend their own unique K&L bottling based on the addition of different wood stave types to a barrel of Maker’s 46. The barrel is then stored in a specially designed warehouse carved into the side of a hill that allows the perfect aging conditions. The results carry the trademark characteristics of Maker’s Mark, yet possess their own distinctive stamp. Barrel #5 leans heavily on Baked American Pure 2 stave, which constitutes five of the ten stave mix. This result is otherworldly and is sure to make waves in the bourbon crowd. Serving up a panoply of sweet fruit, vanilla, coconut, and exotic spice, Barrel #5 is bourbon at its very best. These Maker’s Mark exclusives always sell out in a flash, and we expect that trend to continue here. $70 is a bargain for a spirit of this caliber. You won’t want to miss it.

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Maker's Mark 46 K&L Exclusive "Barrel #5" Private Select Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) ($69.99)

The unique blending process for the Maker's Mark Private Select casks offers a seemingly endless array of possibilities (it's actually 1,001 possibel combinations, but it'll take us a while to do them all). The basic premise of the program is this - Maker's Mark selects and vats 30 casks of the regular cask strength Maker's Mark together, they then refill the barrels from that vatting with the now small batch whisky and add in a 10 stave recipe. No more, no less. The "recipe" of which 10 staves are added are selected by the buyer of the barrel and can be in any combination from their 5 unique wood/toasting regimes. The only additional rule is that you cannot do 10 of the same stave. Barrel #5 doubles down on the Baked American Pure 2 stave. It represents 5/10 staves in the recipe. There are 2 Seared French Cuvee staves to kick up the French oak spice, 1 Maker's 46 as a nod to the program that started it all, and 2 Toasted French Spice staves for added complexity. The heavy use of the Pure 2 leaves even more of the original Maker's Cask strength flavors intact. It was like asking them to only use 5 staves instead of 10 (against the rules...). The result is pretty dang close to a true single barrel, but with a subtle twist.

Staff ImageJackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 08, 2019

This pour needed some time in the glass before diving in. After about five minutes the spirit settled down and the aromas started to make their way out of the glass. Notes of clove studded orange peel, angel food cake, toasted caramel, and baked apples reminded me of a cool autumn afternoon. The daydream continues on the palate as this wheated bourbon warms you up like a soft sweater with fruity tones of candied cherries and brown sugar with a sweet herbal note of something like sassafras. The finish is incessantly long and unctuous, leaving a tingling sensation on the tip of the tongue and sweet sassafras and black plums linger.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 14, 2019

The Maker's Mark Private Select single barrels are a great variation on a theme. There is the nice soft sweetness of the regular Maker's Mark 46 but the volume is turned up with more flavors and nuances. This barrel is mouth coating,rich and sweet, with wonderful spice and honey notes. With a touch of water it is still intense but becomes more elegant and pretty. I think that one could drink this whiskey with and without water.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 12, 2019

My first inclination for this barrel was to pick nine of the Baked American Pure 2 staves to really double down on the natural character of Maker's Mark. I figured that was the closest thing I could get to an actual single cask. I was sorely mistaken. The added depth and complexity achievable through this unique cask program is astonishing. While maintaining a Maker's Mark backbone of sweet vanilla and mellow wheat, with five Pure 2 staves the increased length and breadth of the mixture of seared and toasted French staves, with a single Maker's 46 stave, improves the whiskey. Instead of the just the sharper peaked aromatics of American oak, the base tones of spice fill out the feel of the nose. Heady cooking spices abound, but still with a focus on the sweet spices and ever present sweet vanillins. It fills the glass, your nose, and the room. On the palate the intense tip-of-the-tongue sweetness of Maker's is carried all the way to the far corners of your mouth. It's a full-palate whiskey in a way that the classic just isn't. The finish lingers with hints of cocoa nibs and cinnamon. This is simply a perfect high-proof wheater, and just in time for the holidays.

Staff ImageNeal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 12, 2019

This was such a fun project, and I'm glad that Maker's Mark invited Andrew and I to blend not just one, but TWO batches of Private Select for K&L. It was amazing how different the bourbon could be with slight changes to the stave additions. So it isn't too much of a surprise that Andrew's barrel is vastly different from mine. The Neal barrel is clearly superior, but this barrel of Andrew's is really killer too. When I sip this I think to myself that this is classic Maker's Mark... but greatly intensified. Luscious caramel spills out of the glass with apricot and a little buttered popcorn. There's very soft baking spices with a bit of coconut coming from the high amount of baked American oak staves that give Andrew's batch its central character. This decadent bourbon is a sweetie, but it ain't a pushover.

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 08, 2019

Marker's Mark's focus has always been on producing quality whiskey vs simply pumping out quantity. In this unique single barrel designed by our K&L Spirits team, you get something that is totally one-off, special, and won't be seen again. Boasting more bold, rich, true to bourbon flavors of butterscotch, biscuit, and vanilla bean, this whiskey is everything you would want in a classic American spirit. Very smooth and a little sweet with a creme brulee-like character.