Thirsty Thursday: Maker’s Mark

Every so often I reach for something in my glass that’s not wine. Usually that means an Italian digestif – Amaro, Mirto, Limoncello maybe even a beer and very rarely Scotch. But drinking Bourbon is really out of character. That is since I’m an adult. I believe as a teen Bourbon was the source of a terrible, terrible hangover following a drinking contest which led to an unplesant moment with my Mother and which sent me away from Bourbon for a long time. I’m alone in this apparently Bourbon is booming and September is not only the Kentucky Derby, my occasion for drinking Bourbon again but also Bourbon month. Vinepair has been penning daily features about Bourbon all month. I also found this site all about Bourbon Heritage month and that two dear friends of mine since childhood drink Bourbon.

“National Bourbon Heritage Month was created in 2007 by U.S. Senator Jim Bunning who wanted to reinforce the significance of Bourbon being America’s ‘Native Spirit’. This month-long celebration highlights the contributions, craftsmanship, history, and achievements made in the bourbon industry,” according to the website of the Black Bourbon Society.

Now that I know it’s a thing, I wanted to see what I was missing so I got out a bottle of Maker’s Mark. No better place to get back into Bourbon right. Low and behold, one drink led to two and I would gone to three but I remembered my fourteen year old self and my Wild Turkey moment and stopped. Bourbon just ran over my palate and danced there for a while and really made me happy. I found it both profound, less banana like and deeply satisfying. Sure carmel aromas, spice, honey and nuts but it was also the weight of it and the texture and the slow sipping that made it all the more enjoyable. The Derby lasts about 3 minutes but that Bourbon was very persistent with a much longer finish than Authentic, the horse that won.

Another is the char they put on their barrels. wood barrels are subjected to fire to varying lengths of time, depending on the aromas that a distillery or winery wants in the final product. Cooperages who make barrels always age the cut wood planks outside for some month before the charring takes place.
Another element in the Bourbon mix is the hand riddling or rotation of the barrels so they can have exposure to a host of different temperatures in the house where they age called a rackhouse. These barrels spend three months in these hot Kentucky summers. The charring of the wood serves not only to add flavors to the whisky but also to bring color and create a house style. Once tasted by the panel who determines what goes where, the barrels are moved to a cooler section of the rackhouse.
Another fun Maker’s signature is the red wax labels as are their hand cut labels. All of this and more can be seen on a trip to Maker’s. When this is over, I’ll be making my way over there.
Cheers to our Native Spirit, Bourbon and to better times in the U.S.A.

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