Maker’s Mark is one of the best known of Kentucky’s bourbons. Owned by Beam, Inc. (the owners of Jim Beam), the bourbon is produced in Loretto, Kentucky. The bourbon is aged 6 to 7 years, and bottled and the barrels are rotated among the different levels of the distillery to allow exposure to different temperatures. Maker’s Mark is also unique among bourbons as no rye is used in the mash, instead using red winter wheat. This small batch whisky is measured at 90 proof, or 45% alcohol by volume.
T. William Samuels, Sr started Maker’s Mark in 1954 when he bought Burke’s Distillery. The first bottles were sold in 1958 and included the brand’s trademark square bottles and red wax seal. The brand holds a US patent on the wax used, and no other brand uses such sealing.
Along with the original blend, Marker’s Mark also has a Mint Julep label with green wax, and 46 which included French oak slates added to the white oak barrels that the bourbon is made in. The distillery also produces several special addition bottles, such as for Keeneland racetrack and the Kentucky Derby. Special edition bottles have also been made celebrating the University of Kentucky and it’s various college sports achievements.
The distillery in Loretto offers public tours of their operation, along with free samples and allows visitors to dip their own bottle as a souvenir. Along with the distillery, Maker’s Mark has opened three restaurants and lounges. The first was opened in 2004 at Louisville’s Fourth Street Live! and the second was opened in Kansas City, Missouri in 2008. The Indiana Live Casino in Shelbyville, Indiana opened in 2009.
The distillery is also a registered landmark, being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and the National Historic Landmarks in 1980. It is the only distillery to achieve such an honor that is still active.