Thursday 15 August 2013

Bill Samuels Jr Australian visit (& Makers Mark 46 Australian launch)

"Yummy, complex and with a long finish" - the three (paraphrased) goals for Makers Mark set when developing Makers Mark 46...but more on that later.

Makers Mark 46, the first real new whiskey from Makers Mark since 1958, is finally being launched in Australia following its 2010 release in the US. I've been a fan of Makers since discovering it at the age of 18 on a schoolies cruise (yeah yeah), and ever since trying 46 a few years ago on a US trip, I've been patiently waiting for its release in Australia. Finally that day has come.

Bill Samuels Jr (son of Founder, former President and current Chairman Emeritus of Makers Mark) is currently in Australia to celebrate the launch, and is hosting a series of events around Sydney and Melbourne. I was lucky enough to be invited to an intimate session at Luke Reddington's popular Hello Sailor with about 20 other attendees, for an introduction to Makers Mark 46 (and some of Hello Sailor's excellent Mint Juleps).

Bill briefly explained how 46 differs from the regular Makers Mark (additional months spent in the same barrel, but with seared French oak staves added), how it got its name (the cooperage that produces the staves has produced 45 different staves previously for the wine industry), and why he created it (basically as his legacy, and so that his name could never be removed from the bottle, because "it's etched right there into the glass!")

More interesting though were Bill's stories, including his time as a former engineer working on the Polaris missile (until a disastrous launch which may or may not have been Bill's fault) and his family's missed opportunity to become "truly loaded" (involving the earliest days of Coca Cola).

Bill ran a brief tasting of Makers Mark 46, evidencing how well they'd hit the three aforementioned goals. Sweet and rich on the nose, with amplified vanilla characteristics, the palate is big and bold (no doubt partially due to its 47% ABV, compared with the 40% of regular Makers in Australia) with rich toffee and spice notes. The finish is definitely a long one, with smooth, spicy notes lingering long after the last sip. It's Makers amplified, and all the better for it.
A genuinely funny and friendly guy, Bill stuck around to chat to the crowd and sign autographs. Copies of his book ("My Autobiography") were given out, along with Makers Mark ice ball moulds.

Bill is doing a few public signings whilst in Australia too. Anyone interested should get along to:
  • Dan Murphy’s Alexandria (4.30pm – 5.30pm. 17th Aug)
  • Costco Docklands (4.30pm – 5.30pm, 19th Aug)
A big thanks to the CCA folks for the invite.

 - Martin.

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