Maker"„¢s Mark began with the Samuels family. In 1783, Robert Samuels began to distil whiskey for personal consumption. The operations continued down the generations until a commercial distillery was eventually established. This was sold by T W Samuels during the mid twentieth century. He then founded a smaller distillery in Loretto, Kentucky and focussed on creating an artisan product, distilling far less, but with a greatly increased quality.
It was decided that a new mashbill was required, rather than going through the costly and time consuming process of distilling varying recipes, Samuels chose to bake loaves of bread with differing proportions of grain. The finest tasting loaf was chosen; a loaf with a high barley and red winter wheat content and no rye. It was Bill Samuels Sr who destroyed the ancient family recipe and in 1958, the first bottles of Marker"„¢s Mark were sold.
There are no age statements on the wax dipped bottles, for Maker"„¢s Mark is not bottled by age, but by taste, when the Master Distiller deems it ready for general consumption. Each bottle is emblazoned with the letters SIV, the S"„¢ stands for Samuels and IV"„¢ is four in Roman numerals, honouring the creator, in the fourth generation of the family. There is also a star on the logo, a reference to Star Hill, the location of the distillery.
Over the years, whenever Bill Samuels, Jr., was out spreading the word about Maker"„¢s Mark, fans of the brand would ask him when he was going to introduce something new. Not being a big believer in “line extensions,"� Bill pretty much ignored them for a good while. But about six years ago, he and then-Master Distiller Kevin Smith decided to give it a try. To give them the best chance at success, they called in Brad Boswell of Independent Stave, the cooperage that has been making oak barrels to the specifications of Bill Samuels, Sr., since 1953. After more than a few false starts and outright disasters, all three agreed that whatever “it"� might be, it had to start with regular Maker"„¢s Mark. So Brad started monkeying around with a special barrel and experimenting with different wood varieties and levels of char. The magic combination, which just happened to be trial #46, consisted of 10 “seared"� French oak staves inserted into the barrel to lend natural flavors of caramel, vanilla and spice. Finished Maker"„¢s Mark was then added to the modified barrel and returned to the coolest part of the warehouse. About 10 weeks later, well, voila, they had something noticeably bigger and bolder, but with the smoothness and drinkability that have always set Maker"„¢s Mark apart from its peers. They called it Maker"„¢s 46, in recognition of the winning recipe. Today, Maker"„¢s 46 is finished year round in the distillery"„¢s latest addition, The Cellar. The result, however, is the same, a bold, complex bourbon, but just as approachable and easy to drink as you"„¢d expect from Maker"„¢s Mark.
MAKER"„¢S 46 - From their website
Expertly finished for bolder character, Maker's 46 is aged longer with special seared French oak staves added later in the process for a uniquely bold and smooth taste. Maker's 46 was the brainchild of Bill Samuels, Jr., son of the Maker's Mark founders, Bill and Margie. Released in 2010, Maker's 46 was the first new major expression to be created at the Maker's Mark Distillery since the original bourbon went into production in 1953.
Maker's 46 is the first new bourbon produced since opening their doors and the first offering from Maker"„¢s new wood-finishing series. They experimented tirelessly with the effects of wood-finishing to craft entirely new expressions of Maker's Mark that are true to the original. This required much trial and error, but expertise, passion and persistence paid off in the end. The team enjoyed the Maker's 46 wood-finishing experience so much that they decided to expand the concept with Maker's Mark Private Select.
We tried dozens of different wood staves that were cut, toasted and charred a number of ways. We added these to Maker's Mark at cask strength and eventually discovered the wonderful effects that seared French oak had on our bourbon. These virgin staves are the essential component to the amped-up notes of vanilla and caramel of Maker's 46, without the bitterness that often comes with additional aging.
The wood-finishing experiments were largely enacted by Bill Samuels, Jr., and Master Distiller Kevin Smith, with a big assist from the Independent Stave Company, the distillery's long-time cooperage. After finally finding the flavour they were after, Bill, Jr., learned that the perfectly toasted French oak stave was on file as "Stave Profile No. 46."
Maker's 46 is essentially the standard expression with added spice. This was not intended to compete with the core expression, instead it's a cousin to it, something different for those that like spicy bourbon.