I saw a single bottle behind the counter that looked a little lonely. I asked the clerk if I could take a closer look at the label – “Maker’s Mark Private Select Oak Stave Selection by Black Bourbon Society”. That’s interesting. With the stories of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, a selection from the Black Bourbon Society seemed to be the right thing to do at this time.
Introduced in 2015, Maker’s Mark Private Select offers a custom barrel program that basically allows individuals and groups to “make their own Maker’s”. The program provides the typical Maker’s Mark mash bill of 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley and allows it to be finished in a single barrel selection. The Black Bourbon Society, based in Louisville, Kentucky, selected stave finishings from the following: 2 Baked American Pure, 3 French Cuvee, 3 Maker’s 46, and 2 Toasted French Spice.
Each of the stave varietals add a different flavor profile. The Baked American Pure add char, vanilla, apple, maple candy and maple syrup. The French Cuvee and Makers 46 add texture and viscosity, along with apricot jam notes. The Toasted French Spice adds cotton candy, nutmeg and Christmas spices. The finished product was bottled at 107.4 proof.
The Black Bourbon Society
Tasters have enjoyed this uniquely crafted product. In 2019, the San Francisco World Spirits Festival awarded its coveted Double Gold Medal to the BBS’s product. The Black Bourbon Society was founded in 2016 by Samara Rivers and strives to bridge the gap between the spirits industry and Black bourbon enthusiasts. Over 17,000 members support the mission of advocating diversity and inclusion across this demographic group.
The Black community spends over $3.5 billion annually on wine, spirits and tobacco and over-indexes in spending compared to other demographic groups. Black Americans have long been part of the whiskey industry, from growing the grains, making barrels, building rickhouses, and bottling the finished product. They have played nearly every role except that of leadership. Note that a new black-owned distillery is on the scene in Lexington, Kentucky – Fresh Bourbon – and will be releasing its first product in early 2021. As an industry, the bourbon industry should continue to expand and support initiatives to provide more inclusion in its workplaces and its marketing. Click here to learn more about the Black Bourbon Society, its initiatives and perks of membership.
Color: Deep copper with thick legs dripping down the Glencairn glass.
Nose: Caramel and sweet vanilla custard are prominent, dusted with nutmeg and baking spices.
Palate: A thick and chewy mouthfeel, full of vanilla, spice and oak char are wrapped up with a spicy splash.
Finish: Spicy red hots on the tip of my tongue followed by a long, slow, dripping creamy vanilla finish. This has a great finish!
Overall: This is one that I’m glad caught my eye! While regular Maker’s Mark can sometimes be a little drab (depending on your palate that day), this one kept your interest the entire time – from nose to palate to finish. Kudos to Samara Rivers and partner Armond Davis for selecting the staves and partnering with Rob Samuels at Maker’s Mark to put together a truly outstanding product, very deserving of its Double Gold medal award.