Maker's Mark Cask Strength Ruby Port Finish Review
And now for something completely different - Maker's Mark Cask Strength Ruby Port Finish. Before going any further let me state that this is not an official Maker's Mark release. A while back /u/Looney_Bin made a call to arms in the r/bourbon community to see if any of us were interested in trying a DIY, ruby port finished cask strength bourbon. The answer was a resounding yes. MMCS was an interesting choice for this experiment as I already found it to have quite a bit of red fruit and warm spices. While I have not tasted this batch (15-02) on its own I did really enjoy batch 14-01 of Makers Mark Cask Strength.
The barrel used in this experiment came from Oak Barrels LTD and has had quite the life. Initially the barrel was used to condition an old fashioned cocktail, ruby port for 3 weeks, Kentucky straight rye whiskey for 7 days, ruby port for another 5 weeks and finally the MMCS for 5.5 days. So what happens when an already solid, high proof bourbon is aged in a charred mini oak barrel that previously held ruby port (among other things)? Lets find out.
Cost: Sample provided by /u/Looney_Bin.
Distillery: Makers Mark Distillery, Loretto, Kentucky.
Age: NAS but believed to be around 6 years.
Mashbill: 70% Corn / 16 % Soft Red Winter Wheat / 14% Barley
Pour: 1 oz neat in a Scottish Glencairn (However I decided that the table deserved 0.5 oz when I knocked over the glass while taking pictures. #FML)
Nose: Medjool dates, black cherries, cranberries, cinnamon, warm cherry pie, stewed apples and Fig Newtons. Caramel and brown sugar layered throughout. Warm, creamy, fruity.
Palate: Whoa! Hot cinnamon bomb, dry, black cherries, and coarse ground black pepper.
Finish: Spicy, long, warm bordering on hot finish. Brown sugar and black pepper, with some noticeable astringency at the finish. Heat really lingers on this one and even more astringent.
This is one of those situations where the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole. The nose was a definite improvement over the standard MMCS with the dark fruit and Fig Newtons. However, things take a turn for the worse on the palate with the molten cinnamon. The cinnamon bleeds into the finish and joins up with a really harsh, dry astringency that just won't quit. I wanted the port finish to be better, richer, more decadent than the standard MMCS but that wasn't this. The right elements were accentuated on the nose and the wrong elements were blown way out of proportion on the palate and finish. While disappointed I'm not ready to write off using mini oak barrels altogether as my experience is limited to this review. Barrel aged mint julep, anyone?
Many thanks to /u/Looney_Bin for taking the time to conduct this experiment and share it with the r/bourbon community. Cheers.
- Mark Millonzi @ Entry Proof