Maker's Mark Private Select Top Chef Kentucky
At Maker's Mark, our wood-finishing series was created to explore new, unique expressions of our signature whisky. Beginning as fully matured Maker's Mark® at cask strength, Private Select is created by adding 10 custom wood finishing staves to each barrel. It's then aged in our limestone cellar to extract a unique, flavorful taste profile. Participants in this special barrel program get their say in the selection of these wooden staves. The finishing staves can be any combination of five flavor profiles chosen especially for this program. With 1,001 possible stave combinations, each expression of Private Select has a customized finish and taste profile that is unique, yet undeniably Maker's®. Maker's Mark Private Select® is available in select markets and also at our distillery.
Okay, before I get into the actual review of this, I have to say that Maker’s Mark Master Distiller Bill Samuels Jr. came up with an ingenious idea here. The ability to provide a distinct and different flavor profile by varying the finishing process using staves rather than barrels allows for numerous product lines. However, what the consumer pulls off the shelf is not a Maker’s Mark finished product (except Maker’s 46). To date, Maker’s Mark has only constructed 4 of their own Private Select varieties and those (so I was told on the tour this past December) can only be purchased in the distillery gift shop. All of the Maker’s Mark Private Select you see in liquor stores are constructed by clients that Maker’s Mark invite to attempt their own personalized stave combination (i.e. Liquor Barn, Total Wine, etc.). Once the client identifies their stave combination, Maker’s Mark completes the finishing process, bottles, and ships their product to them. The distillery only keeps one bottle to hold in their library of various products. So if you buy one of these bottles from a liquor store and it tastes awful, take solace in knowing it wasn’t a master distiller that determine the finish profile. However, for a company that prides itself in strength of brand (i.e. the title Maker’s Mark itself), it’s a bit reckless to allow amateur clients to determine the flavor profile that is sold to customers using the MM brand.
Finishing stave combination: 3-Baked American Pure 2, 3-Maker’s 46, and 4-Roasted French Mocha
Nose - Much like the Bill Samuels Private Select, this has a prevalent citrus aroma but less holiday spice, vanilla, or caramel.
Taste - Very light amount of spice and primarily a vanilla candy flavor. The spice engulfs the tongue and holds for a while during the finish but is not offensive or even an eye clencher. Follow on sips are more of the same. It is almost sweet like a soda, except with a peppery spice finish. It is pretty damn tasty.
Is it worth the ? - These bottles go for $80 and are collector targets. I will probably write this same spiel on every Private Select review…it is worth the money for a collector but not so much different than the Maker’s 46 that it is worth twice the price.