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Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniel’s: What’s the Difference? (2022)

Last Updated on October 29, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniel’s are two of the most recognizable American whiskey brands.

They both have legions of die-hard fans around the world. But what stands out the most? Which tastes better? 

Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniel’s is a popular comparison battle since they are both excellent whiskeys.

Read on as we uncover the main difference between Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniel’s, from its ingredients to production and price. 

Comparing Jack Daniel’s & Maker’s Mark 

Jack Daniel's and Maker's Mark bottles on a wooden table

Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey, while Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.

Although they are both from the US, they come from different states and have unique production processes.

Jack Daniel’s contains 80% corn, 8% rye, and 12% malted barley in its mash. 

The large portion of corn from its grain mixture makes a sweeter taste.

Maker’s Mark uses red wheat instead of the usual rye, and its mash bill contains 70% corn, 16% red winter wheat, and 14% malted barley.

It is considered a wheated bourbon because its grain combinations have a sweeter and smoother profile. 

Head To Head Battle

History & Origin

Maker’s Mark was started in 1953 by the founder Bill Samuels Sr. He was a 6th generation distiller who redefined its family 170-year-old bourbon whiskey recipe.

After Bill Samuels Sr. purchased the Burks Distillery, he started to produce a small batch of bourbon whisky.

Jasper Newton Daniel, known as Jack, founded the Jack Daniel Distillery in 1866. According to Jack Daniel’s website, he was raised by a local minister and a distiller named Dan Call. 

Jack created his recipe during his teenage years and established his distillery using money from his late father’s estate. [1]

Production Process

Distillation 

Distillery Equipment

Maker’s Mark is two-timed distilled in a copper still, first in the copper column still and then secondly in a copper pot still.

It uses a fermentation process that lasts three days before the distillation process.

On the other hand, Jack Daniel’s whiskey is once distilled in copper stills, and the fermentation process lasts about six days before distilling.

However, it has an added charcoal-mellowing filtration process. 

It is called the Lincoln County Process, made specifically for Tennessee whiskey. [2] It is where whiskey is filtered through homemade sugar maple charcoal for up to 12 days before aging.

This process mellows the whiskey and removes the harshness from the spirit.

Hand-Made vs Machine Produced

Maker’s Mark is hand-made. It rotates every barrel by hand to ensure the flavor consistency of its bourbons.

Also, every bottle of Maker’s Mark is manually hand-dipped with red wax.

On the contrary, Jack Daniel’s is machine-produced, from its cap to its label packaging. However, its values remain unchanged even if it evolves its expression.

But where is Jack Daniel’s made?

Filtration

Maker’s Mark is non-chill filtered, while Jack Daniel’s is chill-filtered. Some distillers, including Jack Daniel’s, believe that chill-filtering removes the cloudiness of bourbon.

They consider this filtering to filter out some of the bourbon’s unnecessary characteristics.

This approach set Maker’s Mark apart from other bourbons. It doesn’t practice chill filtering because they believe it would also impair its whisky’s flavor. 

Also, Maker’s Mark doesn’t have sugar-maple charcoal mellowing. So, as a result, Maker’s Mark has a slightly more robust flavor than Jack Daniels.

Maturation & Age Statement

oak barrels

Mark’s Maker and Jack Daniel’s are aged in new oak barrels but have different timeframes. But how long is Maker’s Mark bourbon aged?

According to its website, Maker’s Mark usually takes six to seven years to be bottled at 90-proof. 

After the filtration processes, Jack Daniel’s black label is aged in charred oak barrels and is bottled at 80-proof. More details on Jack Daniel’s whiskey proof here.

Its black label has no age statement, but Jack Daniel’s first age-statement whiskey, 10-years-old Tennessee whiskey, was released in 2021.

Ownership & Distillery

Maker’s Mark is owned by Beam Suntory, an American-founded, Japanese multinational company that also owns Jim Beam.

It is being distilled in Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky.

The Brown–Forman Corporation has owned Jack Daniel’s whiskey. It is produced in the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Originally, it was owned by Jack’s family until they sold it Brown–Forman in 1956 in Moore County.

Liquor Type/Label

Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky straight bourbon whisky. This liquor type refers to a straight bourbon made anywhere in the US from a mash of at least 51% corn grain.

Like Maker’s Mark, it should be aged at least two years in new charred oak barrels.

On the other hand, Jack Daniel’s is a sour mash whiskey considered Tennessee whiskey.

It uses a grain mixture of at least 51% corn, aged in a new American oak cask and undergone the Lincoln County process.

Region of Production

Maker’s Mark is made in Loretto, Kentucky, and since it is a Kentucky bourbon, it can be produced anywhere inside the US. 

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey is produced only inside Tennessee. State law in Tennessee defines the exclusivity of whiskey made inside the state.

So, if it’s made outside Tennessee, it is not considered a Tennessee whiskey.

Product Line Up

Maker’s Mark has four main product lines: The Maker’s Mark straight bourbon whisky, Maker’s 46, cask strength, and its private selection.

Its Maker’s 46 variant uses different maturity in French oak casks, while its cask strength whisky type ranges from 108-114 proof.

On the other hand, Jack Daniel’s has more product line-up. It consists of seven types: single barrel, mellow charcoal type, double mellow, rye, and flavored whiskey.

Also, Jack Daniel’s has produced more than 50 special limited-edition bottles since it started. Check out the most popular Jack Daniel’s flavors here.

Brand Popularity 

Jack Daniel’s is the best-selling American whiskey brand in 2021, with 12.3 million cases sold. Maker’s Mark is one of its nearest competitors, which sold about 2.4 million cases in 2021.

By judging the sales, Jack Daniel’s got the spot of the most popular American whiskey brand in the world for 2021. 

Tasting Notes

man tasting liqour

Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Palate: Rich in spices, sweet, and nutty with hints of caramel and vanilla.

Nose: Bread-like aroma with woody oak, caramel, vanilla notes, and fruity hints.

Color: It is light golden copper in color.

Finish: Long finish with a bit of spice and honey.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

Palate: It has a medium body with a hint of caramel, vanilla, fruit notes, oak char, and butterscotch sweetness.

Nose: Oaky notes, a brown sugar aroma, and fruity hints with honey and vanilla.

Color: It has a golden amber color feature.

Finish: Medium sweet finish with black pepper and butterscotch.

Alcohol Proof 

Jack Daniel’s black label is bottled at 80-proof, but originally it has 90-proof. They initially reduced it to 86-proof, and in 2002, they lowered it to 80-proof.

Its highest-proof offers from 143.6 to 155.1 proof from its single-barrel special release of Coy Hill High Proof last 2021.

On the other hand, Maker’s Mark Kentucky straight bourbon whisky is bottled at 90-proof and is higher than Jack Daniel’s famous black label. However, Maker’s Mark’s highest proof ranges from 108 to 114 from its cask strength. 

Price & Value

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 or black label costs roughly $26 for a 750ml bottle. Its limited premium whiskey, like Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Century, costs around $411 for the 1L bottle.

Meanwhile, Maker’s Mark bourbon whisky 750ml bottle has a higher price at around $32, and its Gold Label Limited Edition costs around $475. Both brands offer different types and sizes, but Jack Daniels’s average price is lower than Maker’s Mark’s.

FAQs

Is Maker’s Mark better for cocktails than Jack Daniel’s?

Yes, Maker’s Mark is better for cocktails than Jack Daniel’s. Its well-rounded profile can create tons of different cocktail options, like Old-fashioned.

However, Jack Daniel’s is also good for simple mixed drinks like Jack and Coke.

Which is smoother, Maker’s Mark or Jack Daniel’s?

Jack Daniel’s is smoother than Maker’s Mark. Although it uses rye in its mash, it has a charcoal-filtering procedure that mellows the whiskey and its harshness.

Also, it’s chill-filtered, which removes the cloudiness of the whiskey, making it smoother.

Are Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniel’s top-shelf whiskeys?

Yes, Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniel’s are top-shelf whiskeys. Although some are categorized as mid-shelf whiskey expressions, variants such as Maker’s Marks Cask Strength and Gentleman Jack are considered top-shelf. 

Final Say 

Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels had a tense battle. They have the biggest difference in production, but they both have a unique taste that makes them top-selling whiskeys.

Jack Daniel’s smoothness and flavor profile stand out because of its high corn mash and charcoal-filtering process.

However, Maker’s Mark’s bourbon whisky is fairly similar to the sweet flavor of Jack Daniel’s and can be a great mixer for many classic cocktails.

Both of these whiskeys are worth trying. Next time you drop by a liquor store, pick up a bottle of Jack Daniel’s or Maker’s Mark, and you’ll see what the buzz is all about.

References:

  1. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/tennessee/articles/a-brief-history-of-jack-daniels/  
  2. https://www.discovermagazine.com/technology/science-uncovers-the-secrets-of-tennessee-whiskey

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