Maker’s Mark ‘Cellar Aged’ Bourbon Is Distillery’s Oldest Release Yet

The blend of two bourbons–one aged for 12 years, the other for 11–is bottled at 115.7 proof.

There’s distinction delivered every step of the way with Maker’s Mark, right down to the fact that each of its hand-dipped, red wax-finished bottles are uniquely different. What doesn’t change from bottle to bottle is the equally distinctive Maker’s Mark taste profile, which serves as the base for the Kentucky bourbon distillery’s latest release.

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is finished in a first-of-its-kind limestone whiskey cellar on the rolling grounds of the distillery’s Star Hill Farm, putting a new spin on an old favorite, and producing the brand’s oldest expression to date.

The inaugural edition of Cellar Aged consists of 87 percent 12-year Maker’s Mark, and 13 percent 11-year Maker’s Mark. It’s a tricky formula that merges science and art (and geology, given the use of the limestone cellar finishing process).

(Maker’s Mark)

It all starts, like other Maker’s Mark bottles, with a six-year aging process in natural rackhouses, which famously endure Kentucky’s weather swings and interact with barrels every step of the way.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting: Those barrels were then moved into a cool limestone cellar, where temperatures hover consistently around 50 degrees.

That finishing process of an additional five to six years gives traditional Maker’s Mark more complexity and depth, but without astringent or bitter flavors that sometimes characterize whiskey with an older age statement.

And as Maxim found out during a recent tasting of the whiskey in New York City, the results nicely balance classic Maker’s Mark with a deeper flavor profile. The limestone cellar process was chosen specifically to slow down the tannic impacts of maturation.

“For more than 65 years, aging our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did,” said Rob Samuels, eighth generation whisky maker and grandson of Maker’s Mark founders. “It’s not that we didn’t believe in it; we simply hadn’t found a way to do it that didn’t compromise on our taste vision – until now. Cellar Aged embodies an older whisky that’s distinctly Maker’s Mark.”

Maker’s Mark has plans to continue with its Cellar Aged program in the years to come, with plans not to stick to a specific set of blended age statements for each selection. Barrels will instead be selected by taste as they’re ready.

(Maker’s Mark’s 2021 Wood Finishing Series/Courtesy of Maker’s Mark)

For a cask strength whiskey bottled at 115.7 proof, Makers’ Cellar Aged bourbon is not overpowering in terms of heat, and boasts a lingering, warm finish and characteristic Maker’s Mark notes of citrus and vanilla.

It’s a bright, vibrant whiskey for its age, and a fine addition to any selection of Maker’s Mark in your bar cart (which hopefully includes the distillery’s much-loved 2021 Wood Finishing Series).

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is available U.S. starting next month for $150 per bottle.