Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Review

Enthusiasts have asked for it for years, and Maker’s Mark has finally delivered.  Today’s review comes in the form of 11 and 12 year Maker’s Mark bourbon bottled in a purportedly annual release of limited edition non-chill filtered wheated bourbon at barrel proof.  What else can I say?  Let’s just dive right in.


John H.




September 20th, 2023

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog and review website let me first off thank you so much for getting your whiskey content here (or with my co-host Jay on Weekly Whiskey & the Whiskey Raiders Podcast).  Now, with that out of the way, I will reference the press announcement of this new Limited Edition release from Maker’s Mark where I quoted Rob Samuels when he spoke to Maker’s Mark and their traditional aging and bottling.

For more than 65 years, aging our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did

Rob Samuels, Master Distiller Maker’s Mark

I think it’s important for a historic band like Maker’s to release commentary like this alongside Cellar Aged because it underlines the Loretto, Kentucky bourbon producer’s devotion to making their whiskey (or whisky as they spell it) their way all the while taking into account the consumer’s desire to get a premium release with a higher age.

I’ve pondered the idea of Maker’s Mark releasing an age-stated (or well-aged) product for a number of years, and while I found myself in the vocal group of enthusiasts who wanted to get a bottle just like this in my sweaty paws, I also had to admit to myself that Maker’s Mark had painted–or perhaps wax dipped–themselves into a bit of a corner (awful pun intended).

Having stood by the mantra that their product is aged to taste not time would lead the consumer to believe that Maker’s Mark tastes best at the age they bottle it.  Who would know their product better than the producer after all?  Would releasing a more expensive, older, cask strength product as bourbon geeks ask for ultimately devalue the flagship product and subsequent releases such as Maker’s Mark 46 or even their Wood Finishing Series?  I can’t answer that question for them, but I could certainly understand that question alone giving them pause to take a plunge like they have with Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged.

Okay so what exactly is Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged bourbon?  The press material tells us that this is a blend of 11 and 12 year bourbons, and while they don’t often highlight this tidbit, Maker’s Mark does not chill filter any of their releases, so that’s one more check in the column of the enthusiast’s spreadsheet.

The inaugural release of Cellar Aged is a marriage of 12-year-old and 11-year-old whisky – 87% and 13%, respectively – bottled at cask strength (115.7 proof).

Maker’s Mark

At this point I feel comfortable sharing that I am unusually excited to try this bottle for a few reasons.  First and foremost I think it’s just pretty damn cool to see a brand who has been late to the limited edition party start to really explore the more premium side of the whiskey market.  I’m also excited simply because I’ve always liked Maker’s Mark products, but felt like they fell into the camp of wheated bourbons (and wheat whiskeys) that, for me, are tasty on their own but feel like they could benefit from a little more oomph in the complexity department.  Does Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged punch me in the palate with depth and complexity?  Let’s pour some into a glencairn glass and find out.

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Rich, bold, and rounded.  I’m finding big sweet layers that mingle directly with a solid oak backbone holding everything together.  Crème Brûlée (yes I had to Google that for the appropriate accents), buttered waffles with boozy dark amber maple syrup, vanilla bean ice cream smothered with caramel.

Taste – On the palate this immediately kicks into high gear with sweet oak and bakery fresh flavors that work so well.  A nice velvety texture works well bringing across brighter flavors of berry Danishes and white fruits and richer flavors of fresh Belgian waffles, sweet oak, and a swirl of spice.  Impressive how much it evolves on the palate.  Vanilla sundae with caramel and fruit and again getting some of that great background baking spice.

Finish – The finish stands out in a long and sumptuous way.  Mingling desserty flavors and spice held together with sweet oak and a dash of char.

Bourbon Finder Grade: A

Final thoughts…

I have to commend Maker’s Mark on this release.  I feel like they really put in the time and effort to get this product blended in a very balanced and complex way that showcases their ability to produce a true winner.

Gone are the days of Maker’s Mark telling fans and consumers that their whiskey doesn’t taste as good when it reaches double digit ages.  I am personally excited to see where this goes for future releases.  Will we see a true age-statement on Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged?  Will the Loretto, Kentucky distillery take a run at Pappy Van Winkle and other premium wheated bourbons?  Only time will tell.

For now, I’m incredibly pleased, and I cannot wait to see this product again at the end of the year when I am considering my whiskey of the year for 2023, as it will absolutely be in the running.  If I gave a ‘kickass whiskey award’ this bottle would get it.  Thanks for reading along.  Cheers!

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!

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