Cocktails with… Makers Mark

Cocktails with…  



Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky


Occasionally, people very kindly and generously donate whisky (or whiskey) for me to try, for which I am immensely grateful. The world of whisky is, without a doubt, a vast one and so any recommendations and/or suggestions are always gratefully appreciated. I’ve been focusing on Scotch whisky recently, so was intrigued to try Maker’s Mark when a bottle arrived in the mail (dramatically sealed with their distinctive red wax seal).Maker’s Mark is a bourbon that is handmade using corn, malted barley and red winter wheat (added instead of rye) in small batches at their distillery near Loretto, Kentucky. It’s aged in new, charred oak barrels that are routinely moved around during the aging process, so that the effects of different temperatures at different heights of the warehouse are evened out.  It’s not-worth that “Whisky” in their title is spelt with out an “e” which is unlike most American whiskies, I’ve not yet found an authoritative reason as to why, yet.Given that this is handmade, DBS was inspired to try it in a homemade whiskey liqueur recipe and a premixed mint julep. Here are my notes on these, along with those on the whisky itself.

Maker’s Mark

The nose is light and syrupy sweet – like golden syrup, rather than honey – but nonetheless has some evident strong alcohol behind it. There are also hints of corn and oak and, after ten minutes or so, the nose developed so that it was sweeter, with hints of spiced honey.

It was strong on the tongue, too, with a definite tingle from the outset that was followed by a warm, woody note. Given the nose, I was pleased to find that it wasn’t overly
sweet; any sweetness was quickly and neatly balanced by a woody dryness. The most significant aspect of this drink neat, for me, was the wonderful, lasting warmth.

Bourbon and Branch Water

OK so I didn’t actually use branch water but my supply is of the finest quality. The water seemed to accentuate the sweetness on the nose, but also made the drink itself an awful lot smoother. It also opened up the wood notes, introducing something that was almost smoky, but stopped just short of it as a weet, damp, slightly charred woodiness. As much as I preferred it with a few drops of water, I found it all too easy to put too much in, so add only a few drops at a time to avoid weakening your bourbon too much.

Home-made Maker's Mark Liqueur

Maker’s Mark Liqueur (Homemade)

The nose was distinctly sweet, with only faint hints of the original bourbon coming through, to be replaced with a more general nose of fresh, sweet alcohol.

The first iteration of this liqueur was rather bizarre with an oddly “disjointed” flavour: there were two very different flavours, one at the front of the mouth and one at the back. At the front, the sweet alcohol from the nose played alongside a fruitiness, reminding me slightly of sweet medicines from my childhood. At the back and along the top of the mouth, meanwhile, there was a duller, drier flavour.

Obviously, this recipe wasn’t working, so DBS adapted it slightly, adding some water and simple syrup. These straightforward ingredients brought out a strong peach note on both the nose and palate, and generally bridged the “gap” in the middle of the tongue. Definitely an interesting tipple – given the strange combination of sweet and dry at different points – and worth experimenting with.

Premixed Mint Julep (Homemade)

Some days, you just don’t have the time or equipment to mix yourself a mint julep. Inspired by a bottle of Maker’s Mark’s own pre-mixed mint julep, this was the second experiment that DBS set up for me to try. It was, essentially, a mint infusion of the whisky, that had been left for roughly a week.

The very start of the nose reminded me of a fresh mint julep, with the wood mingling with the mint, before it faded into a sweet, slightly vinegary note that reminded me of homemade mint sauce.

Smooth and light, the flavour was fresh and neither sweet, nor dry; I wouldn’t sweeten it at all, personally, because I think it takes away from the freshness. The charred wood is there again and I thought I got the slightest hint of coffee at the end. The mint, following on from the nose, again reminds me of mint sauce and so, whilst I don’t think this would ever replace a mixed julep (especially not a DBS deluxe julep, with at least three shots of bourbon), I thought this was very drinkable nonetheless and an interesting twist on a more traditional julep.

In conclusion…

What I really enjoyed about this tasting was its experimental nature and how we were inspired to try a couple of different ways of drinking bourbon. The liqueur, once tweaked, was lovely, and I look forward to trying a similar recipe with other bourbons. However, the premixed mint julep – which we will definitely be making another batch of – was definitely my favourite and worked particularly well with the Maker’s Mark, because its was so smooth and full of fresh, light flavours.

– Mrs. B

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