The Neat Drinker’s Association (NDA for short) was started by a group of guys in the Bay Area of California who wanted to help local bars and restaurants pick the best single barrels for their establishments. The team draws from a group of palates for every barrel pick, handles the sticker art that decorates each pick as well as showcases them on social media for other whiskey hunters to easily find.
This Maker’s Mark Private Select bottle is from the inaugural single barrel pick that the NDA did for Quality Bourbons & Barbecue in Palo Alto, CA and it would be sold to customers as well as poured from their bar.
Maker’s Mark Private Select
Maker’s Mark Private Select picks are unique because the customer can choose which staves and how many of each are added into the barrels prior to being aged for a longer period of time inside of a limestone cave on premises at the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, KY. These staves impart specific flavors that may give the liquid inside more chocolate notes or more spiced notes. With literally thousands of possibilities, finding a duplicate barrel is next to impossible.
For this particular pick, the NDA team selected a barrel that would have 1 Baked American Pure stave, 3 Seared French Cuvee staves, 1 Maker’s Mark 46 stave, 4 Roasted French Mocha and 1 Toasted French Spice stave. So how does it taste? I sat down with my Glencairn to find out.
Nose: A sweet and dessert-like nose of vanilla Crème Brule followed by warm cinnamon rolls and caramel icing. Keeping along the lines of baked goods, the nose also reveals some berry notes like those found in late summer cobblers. The nose is both familiar and exciting at the same time.
Palate: The initial flavors are sweet and spicy with a mouthful of monkey bread, syrup raisins and sharp cinnamon stick. There are flashes of smoldering pepper flakes that give depth and pep to each sip as well. Some sweet fruit notes appear like cherry syrup and ripe raspberries and really help to elevate this sweet tasting wheated bourbon.
Finish: Long-lasting sweet flavors are dominant as churros and grenadine syrup linger around while oak and bakers chocolate stick near the sides of your cheeks for some additional depth. The bitterness from the chocolate and the sweetness from the churro flavors offset each other so that the finish is neither too sweet or too tannic. It’s very well balanced.
This is a fantastic example of bourbon done right. With a wheated bourbon, sometimes it’s hard to get that extra “oomph” of flavors that rye grain provides in the more standard kinds of mashbills. Fortunately, Maker’s found a way to impart those extra flavors by adding in various staves after the initial aging was done.
The most prominent staves were likely the French ones which imparted more of a heavy vanilla taste as well as the cinnamon spice that amplifies all of the flavors. Of course the French Mocha staves provided its much-welcomed chocolate effect that wheated bourbon drinkers really love to find.
Maker’s Mark Private Selection bourbon is surprisingly overlooked in the bourbon marketplace while enthusiasts try to track down bottles of Weller Antique instead. At retail price point, mashbill and proof, the Weller is very close to these Maker’s products. But Maker’s PS is always more available and is easily an equal to the Weller in terms of taste. So even if you can’t get your hands on this exact single barrel pick, Maker’s Mark Private Selections are still a very good bang-for-your-buck bourbon that shouldn’t be overlooked.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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