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Whisky Reviews

Bar Banter With The Maker's Mark Cellar Aged


I recently rediscovered a gem of a bar in my home state in the USA. This bar is stocked with an impressive selection of whiskies from rare scotches to hard-to-find bourbons. Amongst those bourbons is the 2023 release of the Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged. Being one of the many drams on my personal must-try list, the bartenders had a hard time locating the bottle at first, but only because it was hidden away in a safe space.

The last of three drams I tried in this visit (along with the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami and the Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish), I recall marveling over the dram throughout the entire tasting experience. Fittingly, I saved the best for last.

My Thoughts

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged, Blend of 11-12 Year Old, 115.7 Proof


This is a stellar dram. I yearn for the day when I get to sip this dram again! The nose is devastatingly dense and rich with nuttiness, brown sugar, vanilla, maple syrup, baking spice, and even some fruit in the form of apples and pears. Truly marvelous!

The palate is more so sweet than rich, and presents some jam, more brown sugar, toffee, and caramel. The finish for me was medium in length and really brought the heat with some lingering spice and more nuttiness and vanilla. The spice was rather overpowering and detracted from the finish for me, which affected the balance of the flavors. However, I will attribute this overly spicy experience to a combination of other high ABV drams I tried beforehand and my meal earlier on. I strongly believe that my next experience on the finish will be different.

With that being said, I think this makes for an excellent dessert whiskey due to its dense and rich nature. I believe I was the inaugural sipper from this bottle at my new favorite bar, and as of my last visit, there still appeared to be quite a good amount left. Don’t need an excuse to revisit my new favorite bar; I’ll gladly do so for another dram of Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged!

My Score: 87.5/100

Introducing The New Bar Banter Series From Whisk(e)y & Whatnot

I’ve decided to mix in a different format of whisk(e)y reviews with my typical, more in-depth reviews. This begins a new series of what I’ll refer to as “Bar Banter”, where I offer my quick thoughts and first impressions of a dram that I’ve only tried once thus far. The format of my thoughts for this series would be akin to a quick, brief synopsis of what I would provide to one of my friends, were we both sitting at the bar together and discussing a given dram. In this format, you can expect to see my short and sweet tasting notes in the form of a quick paragraph write-up of my tasting experience, and – of course – my score. As this score is strictly based off one tasting, it is bound to change, should I decide to revisit the dram.

Rating System:

  • 96–100; An absolutely stellar whisky. Easily a contender for best whisky I’ve ever had.
  • 90–95; A great whisky. One of the best whiskies I’ve had. Higher end of this spectrum approaches legend status.
  • 80–89; This is a solid, strong whisky. Something is missing that prevents it from being great, but this is still a bottle I’d like to have. Anything at or above this point deserves a spot on my home bar. Higher end of this spectrum approaches “great whisky” territory.
  • 70–79; This is a good whisky. Anything in this range and above is something I would consider having on my home bar. Something I could easily sip on every day and something I can enjoy simply for what it is. Does not blow me away, but is still enjoyable.
  • 60–69; I’ve had better whiskies. I wouldn’t turn this down if someone offered me a dram, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to grab a dram.
  • 50–59; Not all that good. Again, might not turn it down, but would certainly not go out of my way to grab a dram or find. Would not recommend.
  • 50 and below; Not worth the time.

Breakdown of Score:

Tasting Experience (Each category out of 10 possible points, then totaled/weighted 50%): 43/50 points 

  • Nose (out of 10 possible points) 10
  • Palate (out of 10 possible points) 9
  • Finish (out of 10 possible points) 7
  • Balance, or how well the flavors work together (out of 10 possible points) 8
  • Complexity, or number of notes/distribution amongst them (out of 10 possible points) 9

Tasting Experience Weighted Score of 43

Bottle Aesthetics (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 20%): 9/10 points

Bottle Aesthetics Weighted Score of 18

The Craft (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 20%): 9/10 points

The Craft Weighted Score of 18

Uniqueness (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 5%): 10/10 points

Uniqueness Weighted Score of 5 

Intangibles (Out of 10 possible points, weighted 5%): 7/10 points

Uniqueness Weighted Score of 3.5

Total Score = 87.5

Explanation of Scoring Criteria:

There are five total categories that amount to what I value in a whisk(e)y, and each category is weighted accordingly to what I value the most. The breakdown is as follows:

  • The Tasting Experience category is weighted 50%. 50 possible points are spread evenly across five sub-categories. These sub-categories are nose; palate; finish; balance; and complexity. The rest of the categories allow a possible of 10 points each, respectively, but have varying weights.
  • The Bottle Aesthetics category is weighted 20%. In this section I factor in the visuals of the just the bottle, because bottles aren’t always sold with or presented on bar shelves with their accompanying boxes.
  • The Craft category is also weighted 20%. This section takes into account the process of making the whisk(e)y and the type(s) of maturation that was/were used.
  • The Uniqueness category is weighted at 5%. This category takes into account anything about the dram that stands out, such as whether it’s the first release of its kind or a rare limited edition – things of that nature.
  • The Intangibles category is also weighted at 5%. This category is meant to reflect some miscellaneous categories – such as, but not limited to, the versatility of a whisk(e)y and whether or not it’s easy to find – and encompass the things you can’t always see coming – such as the significance of a whisk(e)y to me personally and anytime a dram evokes a feeling of nostalgia (which truly is a thing, at least for me!).

The weighted scores are then added together to total the final score.


Images courtesy of Whisk(e)y & Whatnot.

Whisk(e)y & Whatnot
🇯🇵 whisky lover/scotch adventurer

Read his column on 88 Bamboo here!