Two years ago when I visited the Maker’s Mark distillery for the first time, as I recall, you could not buy any liquor there except for the small bottles that you could hand-dip in red wax yourself. At $30, they were a little pricey, but having a personally dipped bottle was two cool to resist, so I sprang for the cash to do so. When I went back recently, I was surprised by variety of bottles on the shelf. Yes, you can still hand-dip your own small bottle, but there were also commemorative-label bottles on the shelf and something new and different called “Maker’s White.” (The commemorative bottles are simply regular Maker’s with a different label and sold at a premium price. The distillery has still elected not to sell “regular” Maker’s Mark bottles so as not to compete with any local liquor vendors.)
This is the release on the company’s website:
The word is out! If you visit the Maker's Mark Distillery, where every bottle of our bourbon is handmade, you will see a new bottle on the counter. Maker's White is what we call "white dog" in the bourbon whisky world. It is Maker's Mark, but it isn't quite bourbon. You see, the white dog is the Maker's Mark mash that has been produced and distilled but hasn't been put in the new charred oak barrels and aged (5-1/2–7 years for original Maker's Mark). You still get that same corn-heavy, less-bitter taste with the red winter wheat in place of the rye, but without some of the woodsy, sweet finish.
If you have taken the tour at Maker’s (or many other distilleries) and gotten to take a sip of the White Dog that comes off the still...this is it in a bottle. Everything that defines Maker’s Mark is here except for the long resting time in new, charred White Oak barrels. If you wanted, you could call this “Maker’s Moonshine.” Most moonshine, though, is made with corn and sugar so it arrives from the end of the distilling process extremely sweet. Not so much with this.
When you open the bottle, pour a glass or lift the glass to your nose, what you get is the somewhat overpowering aroma of sour mash...plenty of yeast in there, it almost smells like a bakery. When whiskey aficionados talk about “young whiskey” they usually are referring to beverages that have aged the minimum amount of time to be called “bourbon” or are aged in the smaller barrels which help to speed up the aging process. But if you really want to know what “young whiskey” takes like, you just need one sip of this. Raw and grainy, potent and yeasty, this whiskey has but a thought of what makes Maker’s Mark so great. It burns on the lips and the throat and is more harsh than anything else if you drink it straight. If you prefer to drink straight liquor, I would advise staying with a traditional moonshine like Popcorn Sutton, or else getting the regular Maker’s that has been mellowed through aging in Oak, with all the sweetness and vanilla notes that brings with it.
What this is made for is the “whiskey geek” who wants to try something different. Where it works best is in mixing. I mixed some with some Diet RC Cola and was quite happy with the result. It paired well with a the Emilio Cigars Grimalkin I lit up that evening and the icy drink helped me to beat the heat a bit while sitting on my front porch. Just before this piece was posted I poured some Maker’s White & OJ to sip on while finishing up the writing. As a replacement for vodka in a screwdriver, there are a few more twists to this drink. The yeasty, grainy flavor was not a complete success, but it made me wonder what it might be like with some adding flavorings: cranberry juice or grenadine would be the two most obvious to me, but I don’t have any at home. The overall flavor made me think of grapefruit juice a bit and I wondered if this those that like grapefruit juice (I don’t) would enjoy using Maker’s White in a Greyhound.
If you get a chance to try this...I recommend it. Try it straight, experiment with it and find something new and different for the cocktail rotation.