Maker's Mark Cask Strength
Maker's Mark Cask Strength, NAS, 55,65 %
The Maker's Mark Cask Strength was first released in October 2014. This is a batch product, so there will be slight variations from batch to batch. I tried batch 15-01, with an ABV of 55,65 % (111.3 proof). This is a No Age Statement (NAS) whiskey, but it is said to be about 6 years old (source).
All Maker’s Mark goes into barrels at a consistent entry proof of 110, but the proof of the Maker’s Mark Cask Strength will vary from batch to batch. Funnily enough the heat and humidity in Kentucky will make water rather than alcohol evaporate, and thus the proof will increase over time. It's whiskey magic!
The Maker's Mark Cask Strength sells at USD 36 for a 375 ml bottle, which makes this quite a lot more expensive than the regular Maker's Mark.
Nose (21/25): Oak, caramel, vanilla, perfume, nail polish, white pepper and a distinct alcohol bite. This whiskey is an in-your-face-make no-excuses whiskey. It is big and bold. Some might think to turn away at this point, but I shall soldier on. It is quite good, I think. With time it does calm down a little, and there is a hint of cinnamon, roasted marshmallows and baked apples here.
Taste (20/25): Massive, massive oak! We are not talking just a few chips of oak, or indeed a whole oak tree, we are talking an industrial sized sawmill! This is certainly not for the faint hearted! OK, let's calm down, and see if there is anything else here, hidden in the nooks and crannies of this sawmill. Oaky bitterness, burnt maple syrup, raw ginger, and a handful of cinnamon. Spicy and sweet.
Finish (21/25): Just like the nose after a while, the finish also does show a calmer side of this 'bourbon monster'. The finish is medium long. The sweetness and spices come more to the fore now, as the sawmill is left behind (thank god!). The finish is quite pleasant, sort a reward after the initial punishment.
Balance (20/25): I cannot really say this is very balanced. It is raw and fierce, but it certainly has its charm. Not sure this is a whiskey I could have more than a dram or two of at a time. It is best experienced in small measures. Fun all the way, though!
Sláinte! - Thomas