The Maker's Mark Wood Finishing Series came to an end in 2023, but the word from the distillery at the time was that it would return in some new shape and form. Well, this whiskey series is back, and to be honest it's in a pretty similar shape and form as far as concept, although the bottle got a redesign. All that being said, the first release is a good bourbon that shows just how much the use of wood staves to finish the whiskey can affect the flavor.

The Wood Finishing Series is essentially a collection of Maker's Mark bourbons that have been finished with custom cooked and designed wood staves, which are inserted directly into the barrel for a set period of time. The whiskey is "aged to taste," according to the distillery team, which means a minimum of six years, and then the whiskey is finished with French oak staves. The 2024 expression, the Heart Release, was finished with two different kinds of staves that were cooked in different ways. Ten staves of the first type were placed in mature cask-strength Maker's Mark to finish for five weeks in the distillery's limestone cellar. That same process was then repeated for the second stave type, but finished for nine weeks, and the two whiskies were then blended together.

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The point of the first Wood Finishing Series was to highlight different production processes, but this new series is meant to showcase the "taste vision" of different members of the distillery team. According to Beth Buckner, senior manager of innovation and blending, classic Maker's Mark is based on the taste vision of the distillery's founder, Bill Samuels Sr., while the new Heart Release is based on the taste vision of the people that actually make the whiskey. "[We partnered] with the team that works in the distillery and asked them what they taste, feel, and experience doing their job," she told Robb Report, "to craft a unique taste vision that celebrates their personal experience and impact on the whisky-making process that makes Maker's Mark the bourbon it is."

The Heart Release is Maker's Mark at its core, but it does stand out from the rest of lineup, including previous Wood Finishing Series releases. There are notes of balsa wood, rum raisin, vanilla, milk chocolate, toasted nuts, and cinnamon on the palate, along with a strong dose of maple that almost reads like a subtle maple finish on the bourbon (to be clear, that is not the case). This new bourbon will be available starting July 1 (SRP $75), but in the meantime you can shop the entire collection, including past Wood Finishing Series releases, at websites like ReserveBar.

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2024-06-12T23:35:31Z dg43tfdfdgfd