“Anyway. Back in Loretto, these SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) big guns should meet their OK Corral, because they will come face-to-face with something that will gun them down. It isn’t a Colt .45, it’s a Maker’s 46. That is the new whisky (and yes, whisky, not whiskey) that has just turned the quality of an already excellent bourbon up a notch…or three.”*
– Jim Murray (author of The Whisky Bible)
Whoa. In reading between the lines, what does one glean from that paragraph?
Here is a man that certainly knows his whisky (and whiskey). He is an expert in his field. He clearly has an issue with some of the folks at the Scotch Whisky Association about something.
In brief, Jim is raging against convention. Against conventional ‘What’? – the SWA’s objection to Kevin Smith’s (Director of Bourbon and Distillery Operations for Jim Beam) use of charred French Oak virgin staves (stakes of wood) placed in a barrel for the final aging of the spirit. Traditionally, the spirit is aged in an “un-staved” barrel – i.e., an empty barrel. Jim does not object to the staving, and he has our attention.
What is Maker’s 46, and why is it special? How might this relate to our favorite pastime of smoking the finest tobacco (in the form of cigars) that the world has to offer?
In sticking with the spirit (no pun intended) of Jim’s comments, let us make the following observations:
- Convention is losing its place in this world. Convention is something that isbecoming rather than something that is here to stay.
- There is no place for complacency. To create something special, one needs to “draw outside the lines.”
- When making judgment, the standard is not that which currently exists but that which could be.
This last point is important, perhaps the most important of all.
Oh, you want tasting notes for Maker’s 46? Well, to be conventional, you will probably taste the following:
- Heavy cinnamon on the nose
- Nutmeg underneath
- Carrot cake on the palate
- Enough alcohol to get your attention (47% by volume, 94 proof)
To be unconventional, you will have to find out for yourself what it tastes like…
As far as cigars go, let’s just say that you can find out more about unconventional by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
* “Get Off Your High Horse, Partner”, Jim Murray, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – Unfiltered, April 2011