Maker’s Mark (1978)

Until recently, vintage Maker’s Mark failed to grab my attention. I purchased this ‘78 bottling shortly after tasting (and enjoying) an ‘80 at a bar in Louisville, KY. Of all the heritage Kentucky distilleries, Maker’s has changed their process least. Evident? Let’s pour!


Pour: Maker’s Mark KSBW (1978)
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 years
Color: copper
Nose: butterscotch, earthy caramel, maraschino cherry
Taste: vanilla spice, toffee popcorn, light cola, fine tobacco
Finish: medium-long w/ molasses, cedar-esque oak, leather


Overall: A captivating and delicious whiskey! While this ‘78 Maker’s Mark is very much a dusty-profile bourbon, there’s a surprising flavor connection to its modern-day equivalent – especially certain LEs and private selections. Quite remarkable.

Rating: Damn good.

Frey Ranch Single Barrel Bourbon (barrel 979)

A few months back, I purchased a Frey Ranch Single Barrel Bourbon selected by the Bourbon Lens podcast. After reviewing the standard 90-proof Frey Ranch Bourbon, I’d been itching to try a barrel-strength version. Needless to say, I’m expecting a more robust and complex whiskey.


Pour: Frey Ranch Single Barrel Bourbon b. 979
Proof: 129.36
Age: at least 4 years
Color: rich copper
Nose: caramel popcorn, cinnamon grahams, wintergreen
Taste: peppery vanilla, pancakes w/ maple syrup, spiced apple
Finish: long & spicy w/ cinnamon candy, clove, oak, pepper


Overall: As predicted, robust and complex – especially considering its age. And while high in proof, I wouldn’t classify this bourbon as hot; the ABV is actually quite comfortable. A unique and tasty pour with a wintergreen zing.

Rating: Frey-plus.

Company Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey

A few weeks ago, I received a whiskey sample from Company Distilling in Tennessee. It was accompanied by a note from Jeff Arnett, former master distiller at Jack Daniel. I must admit, it was a classy touch. This is their flagship wheated bourbon, distilled via contract in Ohio.


Pour: Company Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 90
Age: 3 years
Color: amber
Nose: corn, vanilla, smoked apple
Taste: Cracker Jacks, caramel drizzle, woody malt
Finish: moderate length w/ grain, char, black pepper & cinnamon


Overall: As you might imagine, this bourbon tastes its age, which is to say, a bit youthful. Fortunately, the proprietary toasted maple process adds some sweetness and a pleasant woody complexity. But at $55, it’s a pricey whiskey for its specs.

Rating: Fledgling Co.

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Discovery Series No. 4

Thanks to a generous friend, this is my second venture into Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s Discovery Series. While I was impressed with Discovery No. 2, its price gave me cause for pause. Will Discovery No. 4 prove its equal? Possibly its superior? Based on its specs, it’s likely.


Pour: Bardstown Bourbon Co. Discovery No. 4
Proof: 115
Age: 10 years (10-, 13-, and 15-year KSBW)
Color: dense copper
Nose: toasted caramel, blood orange, honey butter
Taste: vanilla bean, cherry pie filling, pipe tobacco
Finish: long & robust w/ brown sugar, cinnamon, clove


Overall: Wow! This is one spectacular bourbon. While the critic in me wants to grumble about Bardstown Discovery No. 4’s $130 price, the whiskey lover in me just can’t do it. Damn, this is excellent. Mature, complex, and well-balanced at a respectable proof.

Rating: Big guns.

Blue Run High Rye Bourbon

Truth be told, I had little interest in Blue Run Spirits when they first hit the whiskey scene. Things changed. I could easily write a few paragraphs explaining why, but you’ll have to settle for a few sentences.

I purchased this whiskey because Jim Rutledge distilled it. And Jim knows bourbon. At $100, it’s double the price of similar (barrel-strength) offerings from craft producers. But I’m good with a one-off gamble from a distiller I trust.


Pour: Blue Run High Rye Bourbon (Spring 2022)
Proof: 111
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: orchard fruit, frosted animal cookie, herbal tea
Taste: zesty vanilla, apple butter, grilled sweet corn
Finish: moderately long w/ toffee, bubblegum, white pepper


Overall: This may be the “cleanest” 4-year bourbon I’ve ever tasted. While its lack of maturity is apparent, it’s arguably flawless. If placed in a blind, I could see this Blue Run dealing serious damage to whiskeys twice its age. Damn fine job, Jim.

Rating: Chrysalis.

Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength

I must admit, I’ve had fun exploring the Maker’s Mark catalog in the last year. But I’m not done yet! When I saw Maker’s 46 Cask Strength at my local bottle shop, I figured I’d give it a go. Can’t say I’m the biggest 46 fan, but maybe this uncut version will change my mind.


Pour: Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength
Proof: 110.3
Age: not stated
Color: dense copper
Nose: brown sugar, maple syrup, leather
Taste: bittersweet molasses, stout vanilla, gingerbread
Finish: medium-long w/ boozy English toffee, tannic oak, dry spice


Overall: Such a perplexing pour. There are things I like about Maker’s 46 Cask Strength, and things I don’t. I appreciate its robust, layered character; I just find the tannins and dry spice accompanying it a bit overpowering. Bold, yet unbalanced.

Rating: Mood 46.

Wild Turkey 101

Believe it or not, I just crossed 100 reviews for TweetDrams.com. How time flies! So what’s in my glass for the 101st? Wild Turkey 101, of course. Sure, I have another website dedicated entirely to Lawrenceburg’s Finest, but I wouldn’t have this moment any other way.


Pour: Wild Turkey 101
Proof: 101
Age: at least 4 years (reportedly 6-8 years)
Color: rich amber
Nose: vanilla, toffee, hints of orange peel
Taste: caramel, toasted honey, sweet charred oak
Finish: long w/ brown sugar, honey-roasted nuts, baking spice


Overall: There’s a wide variety of quality bourbon in the $20-$30 range, but only one I could never live without. Wild Turkey 101: the perfect combination of versatile, affordable, and remarkable. In other words, bourbon done right. Cheers to Jimmy!

Rating: Quintessential.

Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch (2021)

Having recently visited Maker’s Mark, I felt a review of a special wax-dipped bottle was in order. Thanks to the generosity of a bourbon friend, I have a sample of the 2021 CommUNITY Batch to explore. Will it prove as extraordinary as its exclusivity? Let’s pour and find out!


Pour: Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch (Oct 2021)
Proof: 108.2
Age: not stated
Color: rosy copper
Nose: caramel apple, brandied cherry, butterscotch
Taste: buttery vanilla, syrupy oak, warm baking spice
Finish: long w/ brown sugar, sweet char, toasted molasses


Overall: This may be my favorite Maker’s Mark expression to date. While not unlike some Maker’s private selections, there’s a surprising hint of dusty-esque butterscotch from nose to finish. It’s not a vintage profile per se, but damn if it isn’t delicious.

Rating: High marks.

Elijah Craig 18

Hyper-aged bourbon is a polarizing subject. One could say the same of whiskey in general, but when it comes to the $150 Elijah Craig 18, it’s generally love it or hate it. Sadly, once secondary market values are factored in, the divide seems moot. Oh well. Time to weigh in!


Pour: Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel
Proof: 90
Age: 18 years
Color: copper
Nose: fragrant oak, cedar, spiced apple
Taste: woody vanilla bean, savory caramel, antique leather
Finish: moderate length w/ charred oak, tobacco, earthy spice


Overall: Granted, it’s a single-barrel expression, so there will be variance, but damn if this Elijah Craig 18 isn’t tasty. It’s an oak bomb, however, and far from subtle. But in this case there’s just enough sweetness to balance out the woodiness.

Rating: Oaky dokie.

Green River Bourbon

There’s been a lot of recent press about Green River Distillery. Formerly known as O.Z. Tyler, the distillery was once infamous for its use of “rapidly aged” whiskey. Now that their distillate has matured, we should see less of that. But is their naturally aged whiskey any good?


Pour: Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 (reportedly 5) years
Color: copper
Nose: apple-cinnamon, French toast & syrup, maraschino cherry
Taste: chewy oak, brown sugar, chocolate chip cookie dough
Finish: moderate length w/ toasted caramel, toffee, faint pepper


Overall: What sorcery is this? Five years and 90 proof?! Did I read that correctly? Wow. You have my attention, Green River. Shooting straight here – for $35 this is a damn good buy. An impressive bourbon that’s strikingly complex for its no-frills specs.

Rating: Green magic.

Maker’s Mark FAE-02

I’ve grown quite fond of Maker’s Mark’s wood finishing series. While some releases are better than others, all have been of exceptional quality, and honestly, extremely underrated in the world of limited edition whiskeys. Will 2021’s FAE-02 prove me wrong? Let’s find out!


Pour: Maker’s Mark FAE-02
Proof: 109.1
Age: not stated
Color: dense honey
Nose: toasted caramel, sweet oak char, robust butterscotch
Taste: vanilla bean, baked brown sugar, chocolate almond
Finish: long & flavorful w/ molasses, velvety mocha, tobacco


Overall: Maker’s Mark has done it again, and in spectacular fashion to boot. Going into this tasting, I was confident 2020’s baking spice laden SE4 x PR5 would remain my favorite. Not so. FAE-02 is a well-balanced showcase of luxurious oak. Rich and lovely.

Rating: FAEnomenal.

Maker’s Mark

One of the most iconic brands in whiskey, Maker’s Mark garners a great deal of respect and praise from the general public. Bourbon enthusiasts are another crowd, however, and many fail to recognize what may be the single most true-to-the-past label in America.


Pour: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
Proof: 90
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: vanilla, honey butter, cotton candy
Taste: toffee popcorn, light oak, sweet pastry
Finish: moderately short – sugar cookie, caramel drizzle, nutmeg


Overall: The list of quality 4-year, 90-proof bourbons that can compete with Maker’s Mark is short. The low barrel-entry proof, absence of chill filtration, and “old school” barrel rotation, all result in a sweet and consistent easy sipper for under $30.

Rating: Simple staple.