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Maker’s Mark BEP: Last Masterpiece in Wood Finishing Series

It remains exceedingly drinkable at barrel strength with tasting notes of brown sugar and toasted pecans.

Limited-release bourbons are so commonplace these days that for some brands the novelty wears thinner than bad blended whisky. With the worst offenders, there’s not much to mention about them aside from the fact that they’re new. But this has never been the case with Maker’s Mark in its semi-annual Wood Finishing Series. Since its debut in 2019, the lineup has moved from strength to strength, always accentuating something worthwhile and unique in the whiskey-making process, nary a weak link in the bunch. Now we welcome Maker’s Mark BEP.

That streak remains happily intact as the legendary bourbon house out of Loretto, KY, readies its latest Wood Finishing wonder. Let it be shouted from atop the rickhouse: BEP is something singularly special. So, what exactly is going on in that $70 bottle? 

Well, a hint comes from its name. It’s an acronym standing for barrel entry proof. This variant was crafted to “amplify the balanced wood sugars, softer tannins, and lasting finish that can be attributed to the signature Maker’s Mark 110 barrel entry proof.”

Related: 14 Bourbons You Can Pretty Much Only Buy in Kentucky

If that sounds like brandspeak, it is. Allow us to translate the significance: In bourbon making, a spirit can be brought up to 80 percent (or 160 proof) during distillation. When it enters the barrel, it can’t be higher than 67.5 percent (125 proof). 

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Most producers opt to take it to the limit partly because they’re big Eagles fans, and primarily because you can age more whiskey in a smaller number of barrels this way. Then they just add a bunch of water to the product after the pricey, multi-year storage period is over. The only problem is, when you go in at this highest barrel entry proof, you’re left with a whiskey that’s quite literally watered down, thinner and less robust when it goes in the glass.

Related: Best Double-oaked Bourbons and Ryes to Drink

Maker’s Mark BEP Tasting Notes

The latest offering from Maker’s Mark is the antithesis of this. It’s rich in body and bright with brown sugar and toasted pecans. Despite the assertiveness, it remains exceedingly drinkable at barrel strength, which can vary from 108 to 114 proof depending on the batch you buy. To mine these particular flavors, the umm…makers of Maker’s carefully placed 10 virgin toasted American oak staves into the juice during a delicate finishing act. And we actually mean that as a double entendre because this is the fifth and final installment in this particular chapter of the Series.

We hope the next chapter isn’t being written by George RR Martin, because we don’t have the constitution to wait too long for what’s next. When it comes to Maker’s Mark, it could literally be anything—except a gimmick, that is.

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