Remember back in 2019 when Disney announced a new trilogy of Star War films before the then-current trilogy was completed? This was in May of that year, with a promise of new Star Wars films in 2022, 2024, and 2026. This, of course, was before the winter release of the most recent film, Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars is a series that wanted – yet failed – to deliver to all parts of the fan base. I mean. who can deliver and make everyone happy these days? Everyone has an opinion… including yours truly.
Why the intergalactic saga connection?
Maker’s Mark – which is a favorite here at Malt – released the last entrant in their Wood Finishing Series, a release named BEP. That’s right; the series decided to go that nerd route and use acronyms that sound sightly like misnamed droids.
In 2019 the Wood Finishing Series was launched with RC6, a spring release that surprised this Maker’s fan. It didn’t surprise me in how good it was, but it came out with barely a peep on the whiskey scene. It was a spring release, a wise move so as not to compete with the fall heavy hitters. It also featured woods and experiments that one could not replicate within their comprehensive Private Select Program. It had leather, toffee, coffee, and a rich chocolate note that came out more and more each time you tasted it. To this point, I would still call this the best of the collection. So, as you can imagine it began with quite bang for me. With it’s reasonable price it would have been an 8/10 at the time. Truly a magnificent whiskey.
In 2020 the world stood still and we got SE4 x PR5, a vanilla-laden dry wood trip that stretched that famous wheat to it’s soft limits. It’s burnt crème brulee top offered a strange canvas upon which strong spiciness appeared. A surprise from RC6. If I were scoring, it would be a 7/10.
Then 2021 gave us two release in FAE-01 and FAE-02. While SE4 x PR5 played a daring high wire act, both of these came off as unbalanced. Neither stood out, with both getting a 5/10 from me.
Then it was 2022. I have yet to open my BRT-01 and we have a review of BRT-02 here by Taylor.
So, you might see where I was going now. An unexpected but welcome series that started with a bang and had its highs and lows. The other strange thing was the naming convention and long-winded naming of the series. It seems marketing wanted to appeal to whiskey nerds like Taylor and myself, and even we think it was lame.
Then, another comparison to the soap opera in space as I read the back of the bottle that was the 2023 release: BEP.
“With our 2023 Wood Finishing Series release, we’re showcasing the influence of our unique 110 barrel entry proof (BEP). We go in at this lower proof to achieve the one-of-a-kind taste profile Bill Samuels, Sr. established in 1953…
Our first chapter of the Wood Finishing Series has been a way of honoring all the elements that make Maker’s Maker’s. But with this seventh and final expression, we’re closing the chapter out (with a just-as-exciting chapter to follow). Enjoy accordingly!”
What? It’s over. Seven years later and that is it? Of course, no one can topple the fall releases, but guess what? They never stopped. You give us this great story of returning to the roots of the barrel entry proof and almost omit that you are using virgin American oak staves. Perhaps they want to hide what made this product? Are they not proud of it?
“Hi, consumer. Thanks for buying our current thing but there is something much cooler coming!” Great. Thanks. Could you imagine buying a car and when you look in the glove compartment the papers say, “Thanks for buying this model. Wait until you see the all-new car we are coming out with next!”
Sigh. We Maker’s fans aren’t short for great whiskey. They make truly outstanding product, but you root for their product and marketing teams to create things worthy of that legendary brand.
Of course the next series (Cellar Aged) was announced, and it set this Maker’s Mark fan on fire. A cellar aged whiskey with an age statement is something every Maker’s fan will be after. Oh yeah, and the age statement? It is no joke either. We are getting a blend of 70% whisky aged 11 years with the other 30% being 12 years. This is a serious note and very similar to the fanfare that the 10-year and 12-year Jack Daniel’s came out with. Hopefully they don’t start promoting the next release when that one comes out.
Maker’s Mark BEP – Review
110.7 Proof (55.35% ABV) SRP of $69.99.
Color: Translucent pecan pie filling.
On the nose: If you put this next to a glass of Maker’s 101 I doubt you could tell much of a difference, other than how dense it is. The extra proof creates a thicker nose that is abundant with classic Maker’s. Vanilla, Caramel and brown sugar. Some light chestnut aromas occur but they aren’t noticeable unless you are looking for them.
In the mouth: Those typical Maker’s flavors of soft wheat stay the same, while the vanilla and caramel are all amplified. It feels like Maker’s but just more of it. The finish swirls to an orange citrus mint combo that never quite reaches its full peak. The dull finish of wheat and alcohol are what you finish with.
It feels like the ultimate Maker’s. Or Maker’s AMP’ed edition. It just has more of all the things that Maker’s fans love in that wheated mashbill. This isn’t a bad thing, and it seems this Wood Finishing Series is the victim of the success that is the Private Select series. With the right team picking, those bottles can create pure magic. Too often, they overdo the French wood that just leaves you with a mouth drying whiskey but when they hit; they hit. Either way Maker’s has moved on and so are we. On to Cellar Aged!
Lead image courtesy of Maker’s Mark.