Makers Mark 84 Proof Bourbon Whisky Review

by Ernie Ayres on March 11, 2013

If you pay attention to whiskey news at all (or listen to NPR, or watch any news on TV, or read any type of periodical) then you heard a few weeks ago that Maker’s Mark was changing their iconic whisky. Not having enough product to go around, the idea was that instead of charging more money per bottle, they would simply add a little more water (3%) to each bottle. This might have seemed like a good idea initially but it quickly turned into a Maker’s Mark hate fest all over the internet. Maker’s Mark was being dragged through the mud in every forum or comment area that I went in.

A few days after making the announcement that more water would be added, all of the Maker’s Mark ambassadors received the following email:

Dear Ambassador,

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume Maker's Mark 84 Proof Bourbon Whisky Review(90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.

The unanticipated dramatic growth rate of Maker’s Mark is a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages. We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.

Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.

We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created. Same recipe. Same production process. Same product.

As always, we will continue to let you know first about developments at the distillery. In the meantime please keep telling us what’s on your mind and come down and visit us at the distillery. It means a lot to us.


Rob Samuels
Chief Operating Officer,

Bill Samuels, Jr.
Chairman Emeritus,

Now that I knew this was to be a limited run, I picked up a couple of the 42% bottles. One is for the collection and the other is to be reviewed here and for special occasions. On to the review of Maker’s Mark 42% ABV / 84 Proof Bourbon Whisky.

Maker’s Mark decided to stay extremely close to the original label, only changing the 45% Alc./Vol. marking to 42%. The bottle had a bit of a change by getting rid of the stronger corners in exchange for a softer, smoother edges. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Maker’s Mark without the hand dipped red wax neck.

I swear that I’m getting a little mustard spiciness on the front that settles into a sweet oak, vanilla and floral. Mustard? Yep…just a bit at the very front and it disappears quickly.

Warm rye and sweet oak up front followed by a mellow vanilla caramel and very little sour mash flavor. As the bottle states, this is one full-flavored bourbon. Several of my friends got together to do a blind taste test between the 45% and the 42% and the latter won out. The general consensus was that the 42% was sweeter and smoother…an all around better whisky.

Warm alcohol burn that helps the sweet to dissipate fairly fast. I would have liked the finish to have been a little longer.

Maker’s Mark 84 Proof Bourbon Whisky gets a 9.1 out of 10 Noses. All in all, this is a very good whisky. It is noticeably different from the 45% ABV version but it maintains the Maker’s Mark flavor at its base. If you can still find it, pick up a couple of bottles.

Contest time!

I have a deck of Maker’s Mark branded playing cards that I will give away this Whiskey Wednesday. All you need to do in order to qualify is to leave a comment below (about this post, previous posts, why you love whiskey in general, etc.) and Like us on Facebook. If you already Like us on FB, just leave a comment below.

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