cinnamon

Makers Mark

Reviewed by: Nick

Makers Mark

Wearily, the Whisky Waffle boys trudged onwards through the corn-fields of Kentucky. They were on a quest to find the Holy Grail of American whiskey: a bourbon which tasted of more than just bourbon! There were those that called them foolish, others that declared them mad, others still that claimed it was just an excuse to drink whiskey (fair cop), but unperturbed they soldiered on. Finally, they stumbled upon a hooded figure, beckoning them into a distillery.

The dark wooden building with red colonnades looked nothing like its fellow American distilleries. Fire engines and statues of the Virgin Mary in bathtubs lined the path. Our heroes turned to each other thinking: could this be it?

They were handed a dram of the golden liquid, shimmering in the moonlight and wondered what complex and unique flavours they would discover. They drank. And the flavour! It tasted… rather familiar. In fact it tasted… like bourbon. The Whisky Waffle boys’ shoulders slumped. This was not the Holy Grail. Their quest was not at an end.

Nick and Makers 2

Makers Mark’s attempts at individuality – the wax dripping down the neck of the bottle, their use of wheat instead of rye alongside the corn and barley, even spelling their product ‘whisky’ despite American conventions – are all a cunning disguise to hide the fact that Makers Mark is, when it comes down to it, a Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

It’s by no means a bad one. The nose presents oak, cinnamon and vanilla which combine to suggest a nice dessert, perhaps a peach crumble – though possibly without the peach. Or the crumble…

The palate is even less like a peach crumble, instead elements of sweet caramel and cornflakes are present, combining to form something akin to Honey Joys. A less dessert-related tasting note is that this is actually a rather spicy drop; a much fuller bodied whisky than many of its fellow American whiskies, and being bottled at 45% surely helps this.

The finish is long and leaves a certain amount of lingering spice: like a half-hearted cinnamon challenge. There are also the more abstract and subjective notes of grass cuttings and saddle leather. You’ll have to take my word for this.

Nick and Makers 4

This bottle was intended by the makers of Makers Mark to be a whisky that appeals to people who don’t like bourbon. To that extent, it seems that they have failed. In fact, they have possibly achieved the exact opposite. This is a perfectly acceptable entry-level drop, and one that will keep bourbon drinkers perfectly content.

So if you see that hooded bartender beckoning you towards the Makers Mark on the top shelf, be warned. Look past the metaphorical wig and the fake moustache. Despite this wily disguise, the Makers Mark is not the Holy Grail – it is simply another bourbon.

★★

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Amrut Fusion

Reviewed by: Mooresy

Amrut Fusion
Keen not to be left behind, India’s first single malt was launched in 2004 by Amrut Distilleries and has had a meteoric rise to success in the world market over the last decade. Not trying to imitate Scotch, Indian whisky brings its own special something to the field.

True to its name, this variant is a fusion between the traditional methods of the Scots and the experimental, unshackled approach of Indian distillers. Like a child who has moved out of home in defiance but is still keen to impress the parents, Amrut whiskies are a reminder to the world that independence can lead to innovation in a way only ex-colonial powers demonstrate.

For long-time drinkers of Scotch whisky who are yet to stray into the realm of Australian, Japanese or any other countries, Amrut Fusion will be a surprising drop. On the nose there are hints of spice and sweetness, pushing the mind to thoughts of chai and other familiar Indian flavours.

After a short while, the intensity fades and, I for one, was left with the clearest smell of warm cinnamon doughnuts. On a cold night sitting on a balcony somewhere looking over the ocean, one would feel they were right there at a carnival surrounded by cotton candy, caramel popcorn, and of course the doughnuts.

To taste it gets more traditional, the fruitcake and chocolaty flavours, with the vanilla notes almost inescapable in bourbon-matured drams. The Scottish barley has arguably its biggest influence on the palate through the peat it brings to Fusion, giving a nice smoky kickback to whisky’s origins. Nothing overpowering, just enough to affect the finish and push it out that little bit longer.

There’s a moderate finish, but it’s hard to identify the length because once finished there is a strong desire to just top up the glass a little more and keep the sensation alive. Imagine opening a box of 12 cinnamon doughnuts: you never eat just one.

In the same way that Suntory exhibits qualities archetypal to the qualities of the country in which it was made – precision, exactness, and patience – there is something of the same in Amrut. A busyness and complexity that may make it hard to pin down individual flavours at first but given time all come together and paint a picture everyone can enjoy. There are few whiskies where the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is so applicable.

Amrut has several variants including a peated and a cask strength version of their original single malt, but Fusion is delicious, readily available, affordable, and has a hedonic quality that so far differs from all other Indian whisky (not to mention Scotch whisky) in a charming and moreish way.

★★★