The Minty’s Spirits Week: Maker’s Mark Private Select Bourbon Whiskey
Maker’s Mark had a special series of cask strength bourbon as part of their Private Select program. It’s similar to the idea of Maker’s 46 but customized with five proprietary staves that create 1001 possibilities. This is achieved from a combination of the five unique staves for a total of 10 staves in a barrel.
I’ve been excited to try the different ones I’ve seen in Los Angeles.. I’ve tasted quite a few including the ones at Seven Grand, Otium, Harvard and Stone and the two at Faith and Flower as well as Redbird. Over the holidays, I also tasted the ones selected by Black Bourbon Society and from the cast and crew of Top Chef filmed in Kentucky. Everson Royce Bar, The Edison, Scopa Italian Roots, Hatchet Hall, Alibi Room, Lock & Key and Yard House restaurants have their own bottlings. Plus you can buy at retail stores like BevMo and K&L.
One of the events during BevCon last summer was a Maker’s Mark night with Sother Teague at Harvard and Stone. I met Sother years ago at his bar Amor y Amargo in New York.
For his guest bartender night at Harvard, he had a list of four drinks along with the usual “shot and beer” (boilermaker). The shot was the cask strength Private Select for Harvard & Stone. We also tasted the cocktails. My favorite was the Last Season and Quittin’ Juice. *one drink isn’t shown… someone drank it before I got a pic!
Last Season – Maker’s Mark, Amaro Zucca, Luxard Bitter, Cinzano vermouth, Scrappy’s black lemon bitters
Sother(n) Hospitality – Maker’s Mark, China China, orange, pineapple, Cocktail Punk smoked orange bitters
Last Call – Maker’s Mark, coffee liqueur, sweet vermouth
Quittin’ Juice – Maker’s Private Select cask strength (for Harvard & Stone), Grand Marnier, Licor 43, agave
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Each Private Select starts out as Maker’s Mark cask strength barrel. Then it’s customized by a bar, restaurant, retail store, whiskey clubs and anyone who wants their own barrel. You taste through the five staves and come up with your own.
I tasted whisky with all five staves to figure out which ones I liked. In the idea of Maker’s 46, each of the staves x10 were added to a barrel. I really liked the French Cuvee and Mocha. But I can see having fun with the spice stave as well.
- P2 – baked American Pure 2
- Cu – seared French Cuvee
- Maker’s 46 – the original stave selected for Maker’s 46
- Mo – roasted French Mocha
- Sp – toasted French Spice
Faith and Flower has two editions: Flower Ponte and Areal. Flower Ponte is the work of former beverage director Ryan Wainwright and current staff at Faith and Flower.
The Areal bottle is the work of former Faith and Flower bar manager Adam George Fournier who used to be at Areal. He is currently at the Nomad.
I liked the Areal bottle just a tiny bit more. Later someone mentioned I like oak more. And that made a lot of sense to me.
Bill Samuels Jr.’s dad founded Maker’s Mark. And then he worked for the company for over three decades. Now he’s “retired” but he still gives talks and distillery tours. His son Rob is currently running Maker’s Mark which is part of the Beam-Suntory’s family of brands.
Bill Jr. wanted to leave a legacy behind. His parents told him he could do whatever he wanted with the distillery except for tampering the juice. So he decided to experiment with the wood. And that’s how Maker’s 46 was born. The 46 comes from the 46th version of oak stave he tried before settling on it. His Private Select is essentially the Maker’s 46 stave x10. It’s considered to be the cask strength Maker’s 46 which is normally bottled at 47% ABV. This is 55.3% ABV (or 110.6 proof).
I may not have selected my own Private Select yet but I do have my own bottle. The Maker’s Mark Taste Panel is from a group at the distillery.
Now that I’m more familiar with the five different staves, I can pick up notes spice in Redbird’s Private Select.
Mary’s Bath Water Private Select comes from a group of Maker’s Mark diplomats. They gathered at the distillery and came up with their own edition. It’s named after all the “bathtub Mary” shrines around Loretto, Kentucky which was originally established as a French Catholic settlement. The Mary statues are often placed in a half buried bathtub like a shrine. Here’s an article about them.
So the name Mary’s Bath Water comes from that tradition.
I also recently tasted the one from a local liquor store, Tequila Ranch. I found it quite spicy.
As mentioned I recently tasted these two over the holidays. It’s like finding Easter eggs when I spot them in the wild. And in this case, at a holiday party. The Black Bourbon Society is a private club that selected staves recently. They detail their experience in this blog post.
The cast and crew of Bravo’s show, Top Chef, went to the distillery to select their 10 staves to create this bottle.
Like the two from Faith & Flower, I found myself liking the higher proof one just a little bit more. Perhaps I do like more oak and high proof whiskey?
Seven Grand has a couple of different Private Select bottlings. I tasted their second one from Winter 2017.
Last year I also attended a Bourbon Legends tasting with Women Who Whiskey at Gwen in Hollywood. The tasting included Maker’s 46, Baker’s, Knob Creek and Booker’s.
I enjoyed the Bakers’ and Knob Creek on this evening– of course having fancy bites from Gwen didn’t hurt. I have always liked Booker’s. And really enjoyed hearing the stories.
New York Sour
- 2 oz Maker’s 46 bourbon
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1/2 oz red wine
After tasting all those Private Selects, let’s make a drink! I loved the welcome cocktail at Gwen for the bourbon tasting. Gwen bartender Sam Houston called his variation a reverse New York Sour with a lemon foam.
I would love to visit Kentucky one day and make a stop at Maker’s Mark. And picking out a barrel with custom staves sounds like a lot of fun!
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