Maker's Mark KSBW Idaho Director's Cut; The Maker's Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY; $70
This past weekend my wife and I traveled to Ketchum, Idaho to celebrate our 26th anniversary. For those of you with a spouse, you know what that means. “How did I make it 26 years with this crazy person?” Well, we made it because of whiskey. And beer. And there was definitely some wine in there, too. No, not that kind of whine … well, I guess there was some of that in there. It was a nice weekend, with some fun times, games, hanging out, eating out, and the discovery of a new whiskey that I’ll review in a later entry.
Prior to leaving town, we did what we always do before a road trip: We loaded up on whiskey. Two bottles were neatly packed into my luggage to insure we had enough for two nights away. I took a bottle of Eagle Rare (which I wrote about over here), and she took a brand new bottle of Maker’s Mark Idaho Director’s Cut. She wanted to try it, so I bought her a bottle.
The Idaho Director’s Cut is part of Maker’s Mark’s Wood Finishing Series, a series of whiskies that are finished after oak aging using the staving process, whereby some chunks of wood are tossed into the whisky to add to it’s aging and flavoring process after the fact. You can experiment with this process by ordering some cute, little oak bits online and dropping them into your (insert favorite beverage here) and letting it sit for a few days/weeks/months/years. It’s a cheap way to dink around with a whiskey’s flavor profile, thus allowing you to create lots of different batch’s from a single barrel — or barrels.
Maker’s Mark uses ten different oak staves for this series and, according to the bottle, lets their fans choose their own profile, whereby “fans” I assume they have some hand-selected folks do the picking for the rest of us. In other words, I didn’t get to pick, because someone else already picked for me, and bottled it as 2021 Batch #1.
Okay, so what does that mean for a whiskey lover like me? Well, for the purposes of this non-video, I happen to have a bottle of regular, ol’, everyday Maker’s Mark KSBW hanging around. It’s easy-drinking, smooth, and carries apricot-oak, a bit of honey, and soft, chewy caramel. It isn’t my favorite — although my wife loves it — but I’ll drink it in a pinch. Someday I’ll write it up (soon, too, wink, wink).
Now, let’s add some staves to it. Baked American Pure, Maker’s Mark 46, Roasted French Mocha, and Toasted French Spice. Roasted and Toasted! For the “exact” numbers, see the picture up there, since Maker’s scribbles them right on the label.
And you know what I think?
Seriously. I’m sure the folks that picked that stave combination know what they’re doing, but I don’t like it. The original, at $30-ish dollars per bottle, is better, in my opinion, than the $70 Director’s Cut, and by no small margin. Somehow, someone at the distillery found a way to ruin an otherwise decent whiskey. The nose is off, the profile takes on a rather “cheap” chemically after-taste, and there’s something in there that reminds me a bit of rotten apples.
The first time I tasted this thing I was up in the hills with the wife, it was Friday night, we had just gotten to our condo, and I had already had a glass of Buzz Buzz Coffee Porter, so I thought maybe my taste buds were off. I was originally going to write this from there, but decided to hold off for fear that my taste had been affected by dinner and beer and maybe the Eagle Rare, which also seemed off after the Buzz Buzz. Waiting was the prudent thing to do.
So, wait I did, and am glad I did so, because my first thought proved to be true: That this stuff isn’t worth $70 per bottle, and I could have had two-plus bottles of the much nicer Maker’s Mark KSBW. I mean, why ruin a good thing with some random bits of wood?
Maker's Mark KSBW Idaho Director's Cut, 2021 Batch #1
Who is this guy?
I'm just an average, ordinary, everyday Ken, and nothing more. I like wine, whiskey, and beer. I write when I'm bored (and to prove it I've published three books). I like to garden, work with wood, and laugh with family and friends. Ken's Bar is an expression of my enjoyment of adult beverages of all shapes and sizes, but especially whiskey. My tasting notes are as much about stories and connections with people as they are about fluffy, snobbish adjectives. I've tasted a lot of whiskey (including the costs-way-too-much Rip Van Winkle stuff) and decided to start writing about it. Or something. So, sit back and read. If you can.
How do I rank?
Cost per Bottle:
$ - $0-$25
$$ - $26-$50
$$$ - $51-$75
$$$$ - $76-$100
$$$$$ - Over $100
* - Swill. Dump it out.
** - Mix it with coke
*** - A good sipper
**** - Straight from Heaven.
***** - Heaven called and wants its whiskey back!
Shoot me an email with comments, suggestions, or hate mail!