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For the first time since 1958, Maker's Mark has unveiled a new product, Maker's 46. The announcement was big enough that Gov. Steve Beshear was on hand at the Loretto distillery to see it for himself Tuesday, June 29.
"The bourbon industry is a signature industry for the state of Kentucky," he told an audience of employees and local officials.
He went on to add that bourbon, including Maker's Mark, is one of the things that make Kentucky known throughout the world. Beshear said he and his wife were recently in England for a preliminary event for the World Equestrian Games (which will be held later this year in Lexington, marking the first time the event has been held outside of Europe). As part of the Kentucky booth, visitors could dip their own souvenir bottle of Maker's Mark.
Within a half hour, Beshear realized the bottles didn't serve as souvenirs, however.
"They were cracking the bottles open," he said.
Bill Samuels Jr., the president of Maker's Mark, joked that when the first batches of Maker's Mark were produced, bourbon distillers would have been considered "subcriminals" and no governor would have been seen with them. Instead, Beshear joined Samuels in signing the first five bottles of Maker's 46, which were produced June 4.
Maker's Mark Master Distiller Kevin Smith said the distillery has received good feedback so far from the people who have had the chance to try Maker's 46, a product that the company has been working on for years.
Maker's 46 starts with Maker's Mark. After the bourbon is ready, it is removed from the barrel and charred staves of French oak are placed inside. The Maker's Mark is then returned to the barrel for a few more months of curing.
Smith said the Maker's 46 has a bigger, bolder flavor than the original. It's not necessarily better, but it is different, he said.
The name of the new product comes from the type of wood used in the finishing process. Brad Boswell of Independent Stave (which makes the oak barrels for Maker's Mark) developed the process to prepare the staves used in the finishing process.
"What's so fun about this project is this product, it's delicious," Boswell said. "People are going to love it."