It may be hard to believe, but Maker’s Mark’s first, true limited-edition offering only just hit shelves this past fall. Stave Profile RC6, or RC6 for short, is the latest release in Maker’s Wood Finishing Series (everything that’s not standard Maker’s Mark), and it continues the tradition set out by Private Select, and Maker’s 46 before it, of crafting a whiskey by extra-aging Maker’s Mark’s standard wheated bourbon with 10 unique finishing staves. RC6 is a stave option not found in any other Maker’s product, developed over two years with barrel-making powerhouse Independent Stave Company. The wood itself, virgin American oak, is not that exotic, but it spends a uniquely long period (18 months versus the standard 3-6 months) aging in the elements, what’s referred to as “seasoning,” before going into the barrel for finishing. Only 255 barrels were produced. Let’s dive in!
On the nose, RC6 comes across first with a sweet, alcohol punch, much like Cask Strength Maker’s Mark. Move past that though and there’s a lot more complexity here with baked apples, dark cocktail cherries, and rich, toasted oak spice. There’s a bit of something chocolate-covered in the mix, as well, and a sweet and savory cereal note that ties it all together. This is probably the best nose of any Maker’s product I’ve encountered. The palate is oily and slightly drying with equal parts lumberyard and apple pie filling (with extra butter and baking spice). The heat is perfectly balanced, allowing a parade of flavors to shine: cinnamon and nutmeg, currants and brûléed banana, black pepper and brown sugar. A slug of toasted oak gives the whole thing a bit of a dry edge, but its sweet and syrupy quality prevails. The finish is long, with a mélange of cinnamon sugar, dried cherries, and apple strudel. Not sure why it was named like a droid, but this one was definitely worth the wait.