Stogie Guys Free Newsletter

Subscribe today for a chance to win great cigar prizes:

Presented by:

Cigar Spirits: Five Bourbons Maker’s Mark Fans Should Try

26 Feb 2013

Maker’s Mark stunned many in the bourbon world recently by announcing it was reducing the proof of its bourbon from 90- to 84-proof. The bourbon was staying the same (the same mash bill aged the same number of years), except the ABV was dropping from 45% to 42%.

makers mark bourbonBut when the backlash was more than expected, Maker’s Mark said “never mind” on the reduced proof. While that may have been the right decision, it leaves unresolved the problem that the watering down was meant to address: Demand for Maker’s Mark outpaces the supply of fully aged Maker’s (a problem that will take years to fix.)

So fans of Maker’s Mark may have trouble finding their bourbon. Given Maker’s Mark’s “wheated” recipe, which emphasizes sweetness over spice, here are a few other bourbons to try if you can’t find that iconic red wax bottle, or if you just want to try something new.

Maker’s Mark 46 – Instead of going into to the bottling line, some Maker’s Mark is diverted to a second period of aging with a barrel using seared French oak staves. The result is a more complex, more complete bourbon. It’s $10-15 more per bottle, but well worth it in my opinion.

Old Fitzgerald – Whiskey writer Chuck Cowdery says he’s heard stories that Pappy Van Winkle gave Maker’s Mark creator Bill Samuels Sr. his Old Fitzgerald recipe for what would become Maker’s: “Put it in a fancy bottle and charge an arm and a leg for it.” Today Old Fitzgerald is made at Heaven Hill Distillery. The regular 80-proof gold label is slightly less refined than Maker’s but also half the price ($13).

Larceny – This newcomer, also from Heaven Hill, impressed me when I tried it. Just as sweet as Maker’s but richer in character, it’s more my style. And at $25 a bottle it’s the same price as Maker’s.

Old Weller Antique 107 – Weller is the “wheated” recipe from Buffalo Trace Distillery. At 107-proof, this is a bit hot straight. A splash of water opens it up nicely with banana, vanilla, and caramel notes. Also around $25 a bottle, it’s a great substitute for Maker’s Mark.

Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18 – This special 18-year-old bourbon is a pricy, limited bottling of some of the last remaining bourbon distilled at the Stitzel-Weller distillery, which closed in 1992 (meaning it’s the pretty much the same stuff that goes into the super-elusive Pappy Van Winkle 23). While $80-100 per bottle makes it a big step up in price, if you want to see what extra long aging can do to a “wheated” bourbon, this is the tasty result.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

4 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: Five Bourbons Maker’s Mark Fans Should Try”

  1. Lionel G Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Maker's Mark is the Macanudo of bourbons… well-made, dependable, and the first step for many people as they explore all that bourbon has to offer. But once you start trying other higher-end bourbons you realize it's a little mild and a little bland, while others are more interesting and more complex.

    Makers 46 and Larceny are good recommendations. Also Blantons, Woodford Resreve, Evan Williams Single Barrel and Angel's Envy should be on the list.

    • Patrick S Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      I think the Macanudo comparison is pretty on point for the reasons you gave.

      As for the recommendations, Blantons, Woodford, Evan Williams and Angel's Envy are all great. (I have three of the four on my shelf right now.) But the reason I chose what I did is because they are all "wheated" bourbons (that is they use wheat instead of rye in the recipe, with corn remaining the primary ingredient).

  2. matt Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    big problem here in new jersey seems to be actually finding larceny. ive even asked my local guy and he told me he cant rder it even though he can get old fitzgerald….ugghh

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Cigar Spirits: Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey | The Stogie Guys - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    […] colleague recently listed five bourbons Maker’s Mark fans should try, in light of that spirit’s announcement—and subsequent […]