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17 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Maker's Mark

One damp and cold morning last fall, we got to visit Rob Samuels at the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. Obviously things warmed up quickly thanks to the delicious tastes of classic Maker's, Maker's 46, and Maker's White. Check out some pics of the distillery as well as some facts about the brand you may not know.

Photograph by David Toczko


1. T.W. Samuels bought the land for Maker's Mark Distillery in 1954 but did not sell the first bottle of the whisky until 1958 (Duh, it had to age first, y'all!).
2. However, the Samuels family was distilling whisky long before Maker's. T.W. Samuels' great-grandfather, also named T.W. Samuels, began making and selling whisky in 1844. Maker's Mark came about when T.W. Samuels IV decided to change the recipe and make a more drinkable, less average and more original whisky. Like a bawss.
3. The magical change had everything to do with the mash. T.W. decided to stop using regular rye and start using soft winter wheat. And this is why Maker's goes down much easier (and faster!) than other whiskies. 

4. After T.W. Samuels, Bill Samuels Jr. took over the distillery, and now his son Rob Samuels serves as president of the brand.

Photograph by David Toczko
5. Much of the design we know so well to be classic Maker's was actually designed by a woman. Margie Samuels, T.W. Samuels' wife, came up with the name Maker's Mark as well as the red wax seal on the bottle.

Photograph by David Toczko

5. The red shutters and brown paint that cover all the different buildings on the farm were also Margie's idea. 

Photograph by David Toczko

6. There is a Taste Panel at the distillery made up of employees from all departments. It's highly competitive and the team rotates to maintain the quality and taste. According to Rob Samuels, women have proven to be better whisky tasters.

Photograph by David Toczko

7. This is what sour mash looks like after it's almost done fermenting. It's fun to stick your hand in the sour mash and taste your hand. 

8. Though Maker's could run more efficiently with tons of high-tech machinery in order to pump out more product, they choose not to. They believe there's more quality in the whisky by doing it the old-fashioned way. There are several people on-site working with their hands all the time, making sure the place runs smoothly. 

Photograph by David Toczko

9. Several workers hand-dip the bottles by lifting them off a conveyor belt, dipping, and putting them back on to dry.

10. However, visitors of the distillery can pick up their own and dip it themselves in the gift shop.

11. Thousands of people come out to the distillery every day. There are a ton of whisky fans in Louisville and they greet Rob Samuels like he's Elvis. 

Photograph by David Toczko

12.  It's a drive through the bourbon trail and all the way to Loretto, Kentucky, about an hour and a half outside of Louisville. 

13. You can't get your drank on at the distillery. Small tastes only.

Photograph by David Toczko

14. Maker's uses "open cookers" instead of the usual pressure cookers. See above. 

15. As an adolescent, T.W. Samuels worked as a chauffeur for Colonel Sanders. 

Photograph by David Toczko

16. The "mark" has a lot of meaning: the star represents Star Hill Farms, where the distillery is, the "S" is for Samuels, the "IV" stands for T.W. Samuels' role as a fourth-generation whisky maker, and the breaks within the circle represent prohibition/the times the Samuels family did not sell whisky. 
17. Not only is whisky delicious when you drink it, but it's amazing in food as well. Check out some delicious recipes using Maker's Mark.

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