Every Maker's Mark Bourbon, Ranked

In the world of bourbon, there is perhaps no brand more recognizable than Maker's Mark. Established in 1958, it has long been known for its commitment to producing top-notch Kentucky whisky (yes, the company spells it that way; whiskey and whisky are different). A big part of its brand appeal is centered around its iconic wax-sealed bottles, which are still hand-dipped and help to make every bottle of Maker's Mark unique. Although the brand's lineup has changed over the years, we wanted to find out what the best Maker's Mark whiskies are out there and which ones are worth adding to our liquor cabinets. 

This ranking focuses on the bottles currently available, which can be found easily online or in stores. We'll mainly be assessing each bottle's flavor profile and overall taste, as well as affordability. We've given preference to its core lineup, which will likely not cease in production any time soon. With all that in mind, let's check out the best this fabled distillery has to offer.

7. Maker's Mark Wood Finishing Series

It's difficult to know where to rank Maker's Finishing Series, as there have been a few variations since its first release in 2019. The 2023 expression is marketed as "BEP," which stands for "barrel entry proof." This means the whisky is the same proof as when placed into the barrel. It's called the "Finishing Series," as these bottles are initially created the same way as regular Maker's Mark before uniquely finishing the maturation. For 2023, this meant adding ten virgin toasted American oak staves to the barrel after the initial maturation. Maker's don't specify how long the whisky was matured with these staves, but it's likely to be months, not years.

The use of these staves, along with the higher proof of this bourbon, adds up to a unique whisky but one that doesn't quite have the charm of its other limited releases. These factors, combined with its low availability, mean we placed this lowest on the list. But that's not to say this isn't an impressive bourbon. The nose has a beautiful sweetness, underpinned by some distinct cinnamon and char. Those smells all carry on to the palate with an almost buttery mouthfeel. The most distinctive tasting note is that of brown sugar. It ebbs away on the finish, which is more dominated by the baking spices. The Maker's Mark Finishing Series BEP is good bourbon, but the iconic distillery has produced better.

6. Maker's Mark Cellar Aged

Cellar Aged is the most recent addition to the Maker's Mark lineup, with it only being released in August 2023. However, it looks like it's here to stay, and we're already looking forward to the 2024 version. Maker's Mark has rarely ventured into the world of mature-aged bourbons, but this is a welcome detour. It's the most mature whisky they've made and blends 11 and 12-year-old bourbon. Regular Maker's Mark is matured in its warehouse for six years before bottling. This bourbon initially follows that process before being transferred to its unique whisky cellar carved out of Kentucky's limestone hills. This combination of climates helps to develop a memorable bourbon.

Despite its increased age, you can immediately identify this as a Maker's Mark whisky. But added to its familiar wheat taste is an impressive depth and richness. Caramel and sugar dominate the nose, along with a touch of oak. Those wood notes are continued to the palate before they are joined by some fruits, along with the classic bourbon tasting notes. The finish is probably longer than any other of its expressions, and it's impressively complex, especially when cut with a little water. It's ranked here due to its low availability and high price, but this is a bourbon you'll love.

5. Maker's Mark Private Selection

The Private Selection is almost impossible to rank, as there are over 1,000 possible combinations. Maker's Mark offers the chance for retailers and restaurants to create their own bourbon, in a way. We say "in a way" because you don't have any control over the first six years. Once this initial maturation has finished, you can choose 10 wooden staves to add to the barrel. These staves are vertical planks placed inside the barrel that can add a unique flavor profile to your bourbon. These planks soak in the whisky for nine weeks before you get the final product.

There are five different stave types to choose from, and your 10 in total will be chosen from any combination of these five. We have the "Baked American Pure 2," which is most distinctive for its brown sugar, or "Seared French Cuvée," which gives you more toasted oak notes. Added are "Roasted French Mendiant" for chocolatey and fruity notes and "Toasted French Spice," which, unsurprisingly, gives your bourbon a spicier palate. The other stave is from Makers 46, which has the expression's signature notes of vanilla and spice. As you'll appreciate, with all the combinations, we can't give a single set of tasting notes. But after trying a few different bottles, the Private Selection series is a fantastic way to explore how different staves can change the profile of a whisky.

4. Maker's Mark

The journey through its core lineup starts with the most iconic Maker's Mark of all, its original Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This is the cheapest bourbon it offers, but it still wouldn't count as a budget bourbon, nor should it be considered one. Instead, this is one of the best whiskies for those looking beyond the bottom shelf to find something with more depth and flavor. As we briefly touched on, Maker's Mark is known for being a wheated bourbon. With no rye used, these bourbons are mellower than many of its rivals. A high 14% malted barley is also used, adding to its character.

This isn't the best bourbon ever, which is why it's the lowest-ranked of its core expressions, but it still has great flavor. Its sweetness is the core characteristic here, as you'll get an array of toffee and vanilla on the nose and palate. They are joined by more subtle, fruitier notes that combine with a smooth mouthfeel to create a pleasant drinking experience. Despite the lack of rye, you still get a little heat from cinnamon and toasted oak, which helps to give it more depth. This is its signature bourbon and has been perfected over the years to give you consistency and quality in every bottle. A journey through Maker's Mark bourbon has to start here.

3. Maker's Mark 46

We must admit that ranking the top three expressions was tough. Not only are all three delicious but they are also well-priced to offer exceptional value for money — in fact, 46 is one of the best bourbons priced under $50 in 2023. That said, while we're a big fan, the 46 doesn't have quite the same depth as the top two. Aged for a little longer than the standard Maker's Mark, the 46 has French oak staves added towards the end of its maturation to give it a unique taste. These staves are called "Stave Profile 46," which is where the name comes from. Aside from those differences, the mash bill, barrels, and ingredients are all the same as with its standard expression.

It may share many similarities, but there is a huge difference in the end product. At 94-proof, this is an approachable bourbon that isn't too overpowering. After admiring its deep amber color, you'll get plenty of toasty notes on the nose but also a nice range of fruits. That nose is mostly sweet, and that sweetness continues to the palate with a delightful taste of caramel. A subtle spice showcases its complexity, and we also found its slightly oily mouthfeel to be highly enjoyable. That smooth mouthfeel continues to the satisfyingly long finish. Its affordability makes it a great choice for premium-quality cocktails, but it deserves to be tried neat before cutting it with anything else.

2. Maker's Mark 101

While the naming of the 46 is a little nuanced, how the 101 gets its name is a little more obvious. This 101-proof whisky is the most recent addition to its core portfolio. It pays homage to the founder of Maker's Mark, Bill Samuels, Sr., due to his love of higher-proof expressions. It was made out of a desire to show off the robust character of the bourbon, which the regular Maker's Mark doesn't quite capture. It's a boldness that helps to make this bourbon stand out and is supported by a fair price tag. This makes it an approachable drink for anyone starting their journey through bourbon.

If you've only ever tasted the 90-proof Maker's Mark, you'll first notice the higher level of spice. You initially get it on the nose, and it continues right through to the finish. Also, on the nose and palate are fruity notes, which are beautifully combined with rich caramel to give it an enchanting sweetness. The mouthfeel is even richer than the 46 and lingers impressively on the tongue. It's been available on shelves for a few years now, and thankfully, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon. It's perfect for those who want to sample a higher-proof bourbon without jumping all the way up to cask strength. The complexity is impressive with the 101, but it doesn't quite have the same depth as the expression that claims our top spot.

1. Maker's Mark Cask Strength

Honestly, if we were to recommend a Maker's Mark to try first, it wouldn't be this one, as it may be overpowering. To truly appreciate this bourbon, you first need to taste the classic Maker's Mark at its lower proof. However, once you get to taste the Cask Strength, you'll be blown away. The exact proof of this bourbon can change from one batch to the next, as spirits evaporate slightly in the barrel, which is poetically known as the angels' share. Due to this, the proof will be in the 108 to 114 region. It means every batch of Maker's Mark Cask Strength differs slightly from the next. Not only does that add to the charm, but it will keep you coming back year after year.

What you can guarantee with almost any cask-strength bourbon is a robust taste profile with a range of rich and complex flavors. Some do it better than others, but this offering from Maker's Mark is impressive, especially considering its affordable price tag. The biggest difference between this and the rest of the expressions on this list is the powerful oak influence. Along with the wooden notes, you get the traditional bourbon sweetness with flavors of dark toffee, roasted nuts, and a distinct spiciness. The finish is long and warming, leaving you with a delightful, lingering note of oak and caramel. For fans of Maker's Mark, sipping on its uncut bourbon is a must.


We wanted to look beyond just taste to rank these bottles. This is because we also appreciate both affordability and accessibility. Because of this, we've given preference to the core lineup of Maker's Mark here, which are the top four whiskies that form a permanent part of its roster. Once we considered the affordability of each bottle, then we then looked at taste.

We have personal experience tasting the Maker's Mark core lineup. We've used a wide range of expert and taster reviews for the more limited and customizable releases to get a consensus on quality.