Old Weller Antique vs. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, A Brief Musing

So in the amazing response we’ve had to our Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Review (wow, 3500 visitors came fast), we had an interesting question arise. What would happen if Maker’s Cask Strength was pitted against Old Weller Antique 107. Here are my brief thoughts:

The noses are remarkably similar. I do pick up the slightly higher ethanol content of the Maker’s, as well as a slightly more rough around the edges character. There is  bit more baking spice as well as a more graham cracker scent on the Maker’s, but also more of the raw white dog/moonshine overtones. Overall these are very, very similar though. 

On tasting, the amazing fullness we’ve grown to love on the Weller comes to fruition. The dried fruit and apple pie-like notes soar in the Weller and continue on the long finish. I also pick up more tannins on the Weller. I still get the salted caramel I found on the Maker’s upon initial tasting, but side by side I find the OWA a far richer experience. 

Overall, both are good, but especially for the price, I’m still a big fan of the OWA. 

 

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Review

2014-09-01 18.57.45

OK, so you guys know we don’t do traditional written reviews on this site (mostly because so many people are already doing that), but this is an exception. I haven’t really seen anything about the new Maker’s Mark Cask Strength out on the interwebs, and I’ve been excited about it for quite some time having tasted some that ‘fell off a truck’ awhile back. This may be because Maker’s decided to release it with pretty much no fanfare whatsoever and only at the distillery. Either way, I wanted to pass along my thoughts to you guys, and that is as good of a place to start as any to talk about this new release. 

The best I can figure, the company is viewing this as an ‘isn’t that neat’ attraction at the distillery itself. Sort of like the white dog most places sell but people rarely buy more than once. Maybe I’m wrong, but selling it in a half bottle size and the fairly quiet rollout make me think this may be the case. The plans I’ve heard were that they would release it to bartenders and at the distillery first, and then eventually to the retail market. I have no idea if any of this is accurate, but on the tour I had to specifically bring up the fact that it was being released today because our guide didn’t until it was in front of us at the tasting. They seemed to be upselling the 46 far more than the Cask Strength as well. 

The price. I knew they were going to sell this in a 375ml format, for the time being anyhow, but I didn’t know it would be $39.99 until a couple days before the release. This is expensive for Maker’s. At an effective $80 for a regular bottle, this puts it up there with premium once a year releases and nearly 4 times as expensive as their flagship. It is what it is I guess, and of course we’re all rushing out to buy it, so I guess it worked.

OK, enough blabbering, let’s taste the damn thing. 

The Vitals:

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 16% Red Winter Wheat, 14% Barley (Did you know there was this much barley in it? Because I didn’t)

Age: Between 5+ and 7 years, ‘never more than 7′, because it turns into a pumpkin or something, I don’t know

Char: 40 seconds on the barrel, which I think equates to a 4 (alligator) char at Independent Stave

Proof: 113.2 on this first release

The Color: This looks like good bourbon. Despite its younger age this has a nice deep reddish amber color. It’s got good legs on the glass too indicative of the higher proof. 

The Nose: Oddly enough, the first thing I noticed was opening the bottle. The wax was so fresh it was still soft and smelled of paraffin. Irrelevant, but cool I thought. As for the whiskey itself, it smells big, and that’s good. None of the usual thin candy shop you get off of regular Maker’s. All the good barrel notes are there (vanilla, toffee, etc), but there’s an unexpected baking spice scent. A little bit of chocolate if you close your eyes and have someone suggest it to you. 

The Taste: Heavy, sweet alcohol on the front that evolves into nice notes of bitter orange on the top of the palate. Further sips reveal a salted caramel character, with good barrel note filler. Hints of the chocolate that was on the nose, and again that baking spice (allspice/clove). The mid-palate is really the high point of this bourbon, as the finish is of average length with a certain degree of thinness to it. That could be due to the age or the fact that is a wheater. 

The Verdict: This is good, and if you live within an hour or two of the distillery, I highly recommend you go get some for yourself. It is a little too expensive and a few years too young in my opinion, so I would hold off on the secondary market purchases. Especially if it starts going for as much as I anticipate it will. This is by far my favorite thing that has come out of Maker’s Mark and makes me sad that they have been watering it down for so long. Make it 39.99 for a 750ml bottle and this would become a standard in my bar. As of now, it’s an excellent treat and definitely fun to try. I look forward to seeing how it changes as the bottle stays open. 

Cheers guys!

Four Roses 2014 Small Batch Limited Edition Announced

Four_RosesLimited_Edition_Small_Batch

Thanks to the good people over at BourbonBlog, we now know the recipe for this year’s Four Roses barrel proof small batch release. They’re combining 13-year-old OBSV, 12-year-old OESV, 11-year-old OBSF and 9-year-old OBSK. They’re also going to be releasing a lot more bottles this time around, with 11,000 reported instead of last year’s 8,000. Knowing how much Jim Rutledge likes bourbons in the younger range, +/- 10 years old, I’m excited about this one. The 125th was an absolute thing of beauty and had an unheard of for Four Roses 18 year old maturate in it, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this one stacks up with the younger average. Release is set for mid-September, and if we can get our hands on one, we’ll let you know what we think ASAP. Of course, I think everyone will, and probably should, buy this regardless of what we say though. Let us know what your favorite Small Batch release was from Four Roses in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Here’s the link to the Bourbon Blog post: http://www.bourbonblog.com/blog/2014/08/28/four-roses-2014-limited-edition-small-batch-bourbon/ 

Update and Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Countdown

Hello fellow Bourbon Evangelists! Darren and I wanted to give you a little update about why it’s been so long since we uploaded a full cast and some upcoming highlights. Darren is currently, and has been for the last 90 days or so, in the horrible purgatory that is studying for a forensic board exam. As such, most of his time has been dedicated to learning the intricacies of what a bullet hole looks like, and probably some other important stuff. Fortunately he will be done with this evil tribulation within the next week or so, and we can get back to waxing quixotically about bourbon, as is our true passion. So thanks for bearing with us, and we should be back soon!

There are a few exciting things on the horizon for us that we’d like to tell you about too. The first is the release of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength on September 1 at the distillery. I’ve been informed retail will be 39.99 and it will only be for sale at the distillery and to bars for an unspecified amount of time. I plan to be there and will put up a review as soon as possible about what I think. 

Our next podcast should be a lot of fun and will likely be starting on a multi-part series regarding the dreaded Prohibition. We’ll also be getting to the effects of proof on flavors and aromas in bourbon. This September we’re hoping to have an interview and distillery tour piece with Jim Rutledge of Four Roses if all goes as planned. And our first live tasting and cast (that you can come and enjoy with us!) will hopefully be taking place early this fall! Lots of exciting things on the way, but in the meantime, enjoy a glass of your favorite brown water and know that we’ll be back soon! Cheers!

International Wine and Spirits Competition

 

The results from this year’s International Wine and Spirits Competition show a sweep of the golds for Buffalo Trace in the bourbon category. 

IWSC 2014

You all know how much we here at BOTB love Buffalo Trace, but this damn impressive. I combed their website to see how spirits are scored, and they do a series of blind tastings as well as a chemical analysis. They don’t give the parameters for the chemical analysis, but I’d sure like to know. We’ve had a ton of good bourbons this year, and would agree with a lot of these awards, but there’s a lot I would have liked to see get a gold if not at least a silver. Also, Benchmark gets a gold, really? I mean, it’s good, but its a 4 year old that beat out Pappy 20 year (awarded silver outstanding). Most of their tasters come from the Scotch Whiskey world; could it be that Buffalo Trace makes a very approachable product for people coming over from Scotch? 

What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments and if you want to check out the awards yourself, the link is below. Cheers!

Searchable IWSC 2014 Results