Monday, December 26, 2016

Maker's Mark unveils innovative bourbon finishing cellar

Inside the unique bourbon aging cellar. (Maker's Mark photo)
Wine cellars, tequila cellars ... and now a bourbon cellar? Yes, Maker's Mark has just announced the official unveiling of what is said to be the industry’s first bourbon cellar.

The cellar, located in the Maker's Mark facility in Loretto, KY, about an hour's drive from Louisville, will be the new home of the Maker’s 46 and Maker’s Mark Private Select bourbons. Beginning in January, it will not only be a barrel finishing facility but will become part of the tours of the Beam-owned brand offered to the public.

Normally, bourbon is aged in rick houses -- frame structures where the barrels are stacked on their sides, then rotated throughout the aging process to undergo a variety of temperature extremes.

Maker's 46, created by Bill Samuels Jr. in 2010, requires a minimum, nine-week finish in a cold environment. Given Kentucky's relatively mild winters, that span sometimes is difficult to achieve. Because the new Maker's Mark Cellar is carved into a natural limestone hillside shelf on the distillery grounds, it stays naturally cold and using it will enable able the distiller to store up to 2,000 barrels for both Maker's 46 and the newly-launched Maker’s Mark Private Select all year long.

Creation of the 14,000-square-foot earthen-roofed cellar has been a year-long project. Said CEO Rob Samuels,"What was really interesting for us is no one's ever built anything like this," conceding that his team drew some inspiration from cellars in wine country.

The bourbon goes through the usual, and legally required, initial aging in new American white oak barrels, then is finished in barrels with French oak staves.

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