Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Maker’s Mark is one of the most recognizable bottles of bourbon whiskey on liquor shelves because of its bright red wax seal that you can spot even at a distance.
But can you spot the difference between Makers Mark and Maker’s 46?
Today, let’s witness the battle of the bourbon siblings – Maker’s Mark vs Maker’s 46 – to see how they differ.
Comparing Maker’s Mark & Maker’s 46 Bourbon
Maker’s Mark is the flagship bourbon of the brand, and it was launched earlier than the Maker’s Mark 46.
However, Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon is more expensive than Maker’s Mark.
Both bourbons use similar mash bills and contain wheat instead of rye, but these handmade bourbons undergo different production and aging processes.
Maker’s Mark 46 is aged slightly differently than standard Maker’s Mark because there are French oak staves on barrels of Maker’s Mark 46 for a unique finish.
In addition, Maker’s Mark 46 boasts higher alcohol content than the standard Maker’s Mark bourbon whisky.
Battle of the Bourbon Siblings
History & Origin
In 1953 Bill Samuels, Sr released the flagship bourbon, Maker’s Mark. The brand aims to make smooth, full-flavored bourbon that will not blow your ears off.
57 years later, in 2010, the brand launched the Maker’s Mark 46. Maker’s Mark 46 is the legacy of Bill’s son, Bill Samuels, Jr, and it has a unique finish with seared French oak staves.
Fun Fact: The 46 on Maker’s Mark 46 is the stave profile number used on the wood-finishing experiment, which features a perfectly toasted French oak stave.
Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 use a similar mash bill ratio: 70% corn, 14% malted barley, and 16% soft red winter wheat.
The mash bills are fermented using the yeast strain older than Maker’s Mark itself and then undergo double distillation.
Each barrel is hand rotated to ensure proper exposure to heat.
Maker’s Mark 46 is matured with French oak staves, while the standard Maker’s Mark is not.
Also, Maker’s Mark 46 boasts 47% ABV, while Maker’s Mark features 45% ABV.
Maker’s Mark is aged to taste and does not settle on the clock’s setting.
Based on Maker’s Mark’s official website, it takes about six to seven years for their whiskeys to be ready.
Both bourbons do not feature an age statement but what sets them apart is that Maker’s Mark 46 has French oak staves added to the barrels as wood finishing of the expression.
Maker’s Mark 46 is a classic elevated recipe,  and it is matured longer with ten seared French oak staves and then stored in a limestone cellar for unique layers of vanilla, caramel, and oak.
“Maker’s 46 is, itself, an elevated take on a classic family recipe”– Rob Samuels, Whisky Maker & Managing Director
Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky
Palate: Sweet with a balance of caramel, vanilla, oak, and fruity essences
Color/Hue: Golden or straw-colored amber
Nose: Sweet oak, bright fruit, vanilla, wheat, caramel, and vanilla
Finish: Creamy and smooth with a nice soft spice
Maker’s 46 Bourbon Whisky
Palate: Mild sweet, oak, cherry, with unique layers of baking spice and vanilla
Color/Hue: Rich dark amber
Nose: Hints of toasted French oak, baking spices, caramel, and vanilla
Finish: Pleasingly long with a velvety finish and hints of oak, spice, and cherry
Both bourbons are hand-dipped in red wax, recognizable even when seen at a distance.
Every bottle is hand-dipped in 400-degree wax, so no two bottles are the same.
The distinctive labels of Maker’s Mark and 46 are Margie Samuel’s original and hand-operated labels.
The bottles are labeled with the name, alcohol proof, and distillation information.
Maker’s Mark 46 is labeled with the wood finish, while Maker’s Mark is labeled with distillery information.
Ownership & Distillery
Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 are produced on-site in the Maker’s Mark Distillery at Star Hill Farm.
The distillery is like a preserved time capsule so try their bourbon tour sometime.
Beam Suntory owns the Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46. It is a Japanese multinational company that makes alcoholic beverages.
Price & Value
Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 are well accepted and lauded by many because of their amazing tasting notes.
However, Maker’s Mark is cheaper than Maker’s Mark 46.
Based on Drizly online, Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight bourbon whisky costs around $31.99, while Maker’s Mark 46 costs roughly $42.89.
Is Maker’s Mark better in Old Fashioned than Maker’s 46?
Maker’s Mark makes better Old Fashioned than Maker’s 46.
While both Maker’s Mark bourbons mix well with angostura bitters, Maker’s Mark makes a softer, sweeter, and simply delightful concoction.
Which is better sipped neat, Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46?
Maker’s 46 is better sipped neat than Maker’s Mark. Truly, both bourbons are versatile, but drinking Maker’s 46 neat accentuates the flavor profile of the bourbon.
Maker’s 46 has nice layers of caramel, vanilla, oak, and tobacco note which you will appreciate more when sipped neat.
Looking up close, you cannot see much difference between Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 bourbons, but Maker’s 46 is a touch-up worth the upcharge.
Maker’s Mark has a nice, rich, and soft flavor profile, plus it can be a good-entry bourbon.
However, Maker’s 46 additional aging in French oak stave gives a tastier and more refined version.