Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Edition
Diverting from last year’s name format (which simply indicated the stave profile) Maker’s Mark has rolled out the 2020 Limited Edition as the second installment in their annual Wood Finishing Series. This year’s stave profile (SE4 x PR5) was developed to showcase vanilla and caramel notes in the Maker’s bourbon. Let’s see what it is all about.
Looking back to last year’s release of Maker’s Mark RC6, I wasn’t sure what I would be getting into. While the bar was initially set quite low, the product did very well in my review. Zooming ahead by one calendar year, we find the 2020 Limited Edition at hand, and with it comes a new stave profile to highlight a new array of flavors. From the Maker’s Press Release:
For this 2020 release, we set out to create a worthy tribute to the one-of-a-kind vanilla and caramel taste notes in our signature Maker’s Mark.® These notes are the result of seasoning our wood outside for a full year, which – while more time consuming – unlocks the naturally occurring notes in our classic bourbon through deeper wood degradation. To celebrate these notes, we partnered with Independent Stave Company to develop two stave profiles, SE4 and PR5 – married together to create this brand-new expression.
2020 marks the ten year anniversary of the Maker’s 46 product line. The Maker’s Mark 46 Ten Year Anniversary Edition has been floating around, and originally there was speculation in the enthusiast crowd that it was the second edition of the aptly-named ‘Wood Finishing Series’; however, upon reaching out to Maker’s Mark I was informed that the Ten Year Anniversary bottle was, in fact, to celebrate that product rather than the 2020 Limited Edition.
If I track down a bottle of the Maker’s 46 Ten Year Anniversary bottle, I’ll be sure to review that as well. For now, let’s pour this 2020 Limited Edition and see what SE4 x PR5 translates to in terms of flavor!
Nose – Big and elegant. Oaky, but not overpowering the whiskey. Bold cinnamon sugar toast, a light cocoa dust, and then rich caramel pull me right in. Where RC6 was a bright and wild ride, this is a grown-up and mature nose.
Taste – Warm and noticably rich. Thick caramel comes through first, then a hint of the sweet syrup I recall from RC6 (2019 LE). The sweets give way to a grown-up, mature, and properly executed oak structure. This is all backed up by very dark vanilla and baking spice. Very nicely balanced.
Finish – Fairly long. Nice dark flavors of caramel and heavy vanilla bean. A touch of honey works in here with oak–then a cinnamon note gives way to a high-cacao type of dark chocolate. The very last note I catch is a butternut pecan kinda savory flair that walks the line of being faintly bitter—but in the same enjoyable way that eating roasted pecans brings about.
Bourbon Finder Grade: B+
I’m excited about this release, and can’t wait to see it hit shelves in my market. This is also one of the few times where I’ve read tasting notes in a press release that actually (somewhat) line up with my own.
All in all this is a nicely executed limited edition bourbon, and while I think Maker’s Mark totally left money on the table in not leaning into the ten year anniversary of their Maker’s 46 line, they’ve done a hell of a job on the 2020 Limited Edition in their Wood Finishing Series.
TheBourbonFinder thanks Maker’s Mark for graciously providing a sample of their product. Being able to try new things in the whiskey space, without strings attached, is an opportunity we greatly appreciate. Per our review ethos, we provide objective reviews and commentary on media samples of spirits and products; remember, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!