The Maker's Mark Private Selection: Realizing a Taste Vision

A first-of-its-kind barrel program that enables participants to craft a one-of-a-kind Maker's Mark® expression that is completely their own, the Maker's Mark Private SelectionTM experience is unlike any other. This experience uses a single barrel that has been individualized with a special selection of oak staves to complete fully matured cask-strength Distiller's, replicating the ground-breaking method used to create Maker's Mark 46® by Bill Samuels, Jr., the son of the founders and 7th generation whisky maker.

A Quick History of Maker’s Mark

Bill Samuels, Sr., realized his aim of producing a handcrafted, delectable bourbon in 1953 in Loretto, Kentucky. In order to accentuate the softness and sweetness, he chose to produce his whisky in small amounts using soft red winter wheat.
After manually rotating each barrel for uniformity, he matured each barrel to taste.
Since Bill Samuels, Sr. changed bourbon from a "commodity" to a high-end handcrafted spirit, Maker's Mark has continued to produce its whiskey in the same manner.

Margie Samuels, his wife and co-founder, also made an enduring impression on the company with her husband. While Bill created the smooth, wheat-based Maker's Mark Bourbon, Margie is responsible for the bourbon's name, label, distinctive bottle shape, iconic and unique look, which continues to this day to include hand-dipping each bottle in red wax, and much more. Making careful, super-premium additions to its lineup in recent years, Maker's Mark now offers products including Maker's Mark 46®, Maker's Mark® Cask Strength, and Maker's Mark® Private Selection, the first personalized barrel program in the industry.

Today, Maker's Mark has also become the largest distillery in the world to get B CorpTM Certification, demonstrating the company's commitment to fostering an inclusive and sustainable economy and marking a significant advancement in the brand's environmental purpose.

How Maker's 46 paved the way for Private Selection

The beloved Maker's Mark 46, a modern take on the legendary Maker's Mark Bourbon, served as the starting point for the path to Private Selection.
The creation of Bill Samuels, Jr., Maker's 46 is French oaked for layers of flavor.
The first-of-its-kind finishing that starts with fully matured cask strength Maker's Mark is necessary to create his unique bourbon. Before the whisky is finished to maturity under optimum conditions in the distillery's limestone cellar, ten charred French oak staves are inserted into the barrel. The end result is a smooth, easy-to-sip bourbon with layered flavors of caramel, vanilla, and baking spice.

Enter the Private Selection Pioneer

Rob Samuels, eighth-generation whisky maker and managing director, and the distillery team were motivated to develop a program that allowed shops to produce their own Maker's by replicating Bill Jr.'s creative process when developing Maker's Mark 46. The Maker's Mark Private Selection Experience, one of the industry's most cutting-edge projects in 2015, was led by Jane Bowie, a former Head of Innovation & Blending at Maker's Mark. Maker's was the first to pioneer every part of the Private Selection Experience, including education and innovation surrounding wood and barrels, and we are enthusiastic about what lies ahead for this renowned program.

The Private Selection Process

With the introduction of the Private Selection process, which starts with Maker's Mark at cask strength and is matured for an additional nine weeks in barrels specially equipped with 10 wood-finishing staves in the distillery's limestone cellar, Maker's Mark truly innovated the bourbon business. Over 1,001 different options are conceivable when customizing a barrel using five different stave kinds.
Maker's Mark Private Selection expressions are all bottled at cask strength, which ranges from 107 to 114 proof.

A Private Selection Experience

By finishing fully matured cask strength Maker's Mark Bourbon in a single barrel along with their own unique selection of oak staves, customers can "make their own Maker's" as part of this special experience that was developed to explore new, distinctive expressions of the iconic Maker's Mark whisky. Maker's Mark Private Selection begins with fully matured, uncut Maker's Mark, much as Maker's 46. Participants choose their preferred combination of five different types of wood staves to complete their unique Maker's expression. These wood staves, which include Baked American Pure 2, Seared French Cuvee, Maker's 46, Roasted French Mendiant, and Toasted French Spice, each highlight a different flavor profile found in fully-matured Maker's Mark.

The Maker's Mark Private Selection served as LiquorMate's third Topflight Series program selection. A panel of judges was invited to Loretto to study important facts about the Maker's Mark history and production processes, observe the procedures up close, and even take the time to steal their own cask strength sample to use as the foundation for the Private Selection program. After carefully examining the stave alternatives and taste profiles they represent, the panel went through five different 10-stave group combinations before settling on the one they thought would result in an amazing tasting experience. A Marker's Mark Private Selection was the finished outcome, consisting of 2 Baked American Pure, 2 Seared French Cuvée, 4 Roasted French Mendiant, and 2 Toasted French Spice staves.

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