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Makers Mark vs Makers 46: Which is Better? (2024 Best Edition)

Makers Mark vs Makers 46

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 Makers Mark vs Makers 46 Bourbon 

Maker's Mark & Maker's 46 Bourbon Bottles and Glasses

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. 

Production Process 

Makers Mark bottles

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, [1] 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

Tasting Notes 

Maker's Mark & Maker's 46 Bourbon Bottles

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

Bottle Design

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 Bottles on a store shelf

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Maker’s Mark better in Old Fashioned than Maker’s 46?

The choice between Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 for an Old Fashioned largely depends on personal taste preferences and desired flavor profile. Maker’s Mark is known for its smooth, sweet flavor with hints of caramel and vanilla, which can complement the traditional ingredients of an Old Fashioned, such as sugar, bitters, and orange zest. Its mellow profile allows the bourbon to blend well with the other components of the cocktail, resulting in a classic and balanced drink.

On the other hand, Maker’s 46 offers a more robust and complex flavor profile, with additional notes of spice, oak, and sweetness imparted by the unique finishing process involving seared French oak staves. While Maker’s 46 can certainly make a delicious Old Fashioned, its bolder flavor profile may compete with or overpower the other ingredients in the cocktail, depending on individual preferences.

Ultimately, whether Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46 is better in an Old Fashioned comes down to personal taste. Experimentation with both expressions can help determine which one best suits your palate and enhances your enjoyment of the cocktail.

Which is better sipped neat, Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46?

The choice between Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 for sipping neat depends on individual preferences and desired flavor experiences. Maker’s Mark is renowned for its smooth, approachable flavor profile, characterized by notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. It offers a pleasant sipping experience that is well-suited for both novice and seasoned whiskey enthusiasts alike.

On the other hand, Maker’s 46 boasts a more complex and nuanced flavor profile, with additional layers of spice, sweetness, and oakiness derived from the unique finishing process involving seared French oak staves. Its bolder flavor profile provides a richer and more intense sipping experience, appealing to those who enjoy exploring deeper and more intricate whiskey flavors.

Ultimately, whether Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46 is better for sipping neat depends on individual taste preferences. Some may prefer the smooth and mellow character of Maker’s Mark for easy sipping, while others may gravitate towards the complexity and depth of Maker’s 46 for a more adventurous tasting experience.

How Does Maker’s 46 Differ from Maker’s Mark in Terms of Flavor?

Maker’s 46 differs from Maker’s Mark in several key ways, particularly in terms of flavor profile and complexity. While both expressions share the hallmark characteristics of Maker’s Mark bourbon, such as smoothness and sweetness, Maker’s 46 offers additional layers of flavor and depth.

Maker’s 46 undergoes a unique finishing process involving seared French oak staves, which impart distinctive flavors of spice, caramel, and toasted oak to the bourbon. This process enhances the whiskey’s complexity and richness, resulting in a bolder and more intense flavor profile compared to Maker’s Mark.

In terms of specific flavor differences, Maker’s 46 is often described as having pronounced notes of vanilla, caramel, and toffee, accompanied by hints of baking spices, such as cinnamon and clove. The French oak staves contribute additional layers of complexity, with subtle nuances of toasted oak, nutmeg, and dark chocolate.

Overall, Maker’s 46 offers a more robust and multifaceted flavor experience compared to Maker’s Mark, making it a preferred choice for those seeking a whiskey with greater depth and complexity. However, both expressions retain the signature smoothness and drinkability that Maker’s Mark is known for, ensuring a satisfying sipping experience regardless of personal taste preferences.

What Is the Aging Process for Maker’s 46?

The aging process for Maker’s 46 is a meticulous and innovative technique that sets it apart from traditional bourbon production methods. After the initial distillation and aging process that Maker’s Mark undergoes to achieve its signature smoothness and character, Maker’s 46 embarks on a unique journey of flavor refinement.

Following the maturation phase, a portion of the fully matured Maker’s Mark bourbon is carefully selected for further enhancement. This selected bourbon is then transferred to specially prepared barrels containing seared French oak staves. These staves, crafted from high-quality French oak, undergo a precise searing process that caramelizes the wood sugars and unlocks a spectrum of aromatic compounds.

The seared French oak staves are strategically inserted into the barrels, where they interact with the bourbon, infusing it with a rich tapestry of flavors. Over the course of several months, Maker’s 46 undergoes a secondary aging process, during which it absorbs the nuanced flavors of caramel, vanilla, spice, and toasted oak from the seared staves.

This meticulous aging process, unique to Maker’s 46, results in a bourbon of unparalleled complexity and depth. Each batch of Maker’s 46 is a testament to the artistry and innovation of the Master Distiller, showcasing the brand’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional bourbon craftsmanship.

Which Bourbon Is Higher in Proof: Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46?

Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 both share the same proof, offering a consistent alcohol content of 90 proof (45% alcohol by volume). Despite their differences in flavor profile and aging techniques, both expressions maintain the same level of potency, ensuring a balanced and enjoyable drinking experience.

This uniform proof level is a hallmark of Maker’s Mark’s commitment to quality and consistency. Whether sipped neat, on the rocks, or incorporated into cocktails, Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 deliver a harmonious blend of flavors and aromas that appeal to whiskey enthusiasts of all preferences.

By maintaining a consistent proof across its product lineup, Maker’s Mark ensures that each expression upholds the brand’s reputation for excellence and craftsmanship. Whether enjoyed as a daily indulgence or savored on special occasions, Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 offer a timeless taste of Kentucky bourbon tradition.

Are There Any Limited-Edition or Special Releases of Maker’s 46?

While Maker’s 46 is primarily known for its flagship expression, Maker’s Mark has occasionally released limited-edition or special releases of Maker’s 46 to commemorate milestones or celebrate achievements.

One notable example is the Maker’s 46 Cask Strength, a limited-edition release that offers Maker’s 46 at higher proof, typically around 110 to 115 proof. This expression provides whiskey enthusiasts with a more intense and concentrated flavor experience compared to the standard Maker’s 46, showcasing the bourbon’s boldness and complexity at higher alcohol strength.

Additionally, Maker’s Mark has occasionally collaborated with renowned chefs, artists, and celebrities to create unique and limited-edition versions of Maker’s 46, featuring special packaging or label designs inspired by the collaborators’ creative vision.

These limited-edition releases are often highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, offering a chance to experience Maker’s 46 in new and exciting ways. While availability may be limited, these special releases showcase the innovation and creativity that Maker’s Mark brings to the world of bourbon.

Can Maker’s 46 Be Used in Cocktails, or Is It Best Enjoyed Neat?

Maker’s 46 is versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, whether in cocktails or neat. Its bold and complex flavor profile, characterized by notes of caramel, vanilla, spice, and toasted oak, adds depth and richness to cocktails, enhancing their overall complexity.
When used in cocktails, Maker’s 46 can elevate classic recipes such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or Whiskey Sour, imparting a distinctive and flavorful twist to familiar favorites. Its robust flavor profile stands up well to other ingredients, allowing it to shine in mixed drinks while adding depth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.

However, Maker’s 46 is also delightful when enjoyed neat or on the rocks, allowing whiskey enthusiasts to savor its full range of flavors and aromas without dilution. Its smooth and mellow character makes it a perfect choice for sipping slowly and appreciating the nuances of its craftsmanship.

Ultimately, whether Maker’s 46 is used in cocktails or enjoyed neat comes down to personal preference and the desired drinking experience. Experimentation with different serving methods can help whiskey enthusiasts discover new and exciting ways to enjoy Maker’s 46.

Which Bourbon Is More Widely Recognized: Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46?

In terms of recognition and popularity, Maker’s Mark holds broader recognition compared to Maker’s 46. Maker’s Mark has been a staple in the bourbon industry for decades, known for its distinctive red wax seal and smooth, approachable flavor profile. It has achieved widespread acclaim and is widely available in bars, restaurants, and liquor stores worldwide.

Maker’s 46, while highly regarded among whiskey enthusiasts and connoisseurs, occupies a slightly more niche market due to its limited production and higher price point. While it may not enjoy the same level of mainstream recognition as Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46 has garnered praise for its bold and complex flavor profile, earning a devoted following among aficionados of premium bourbon.

Both Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 offer unique and exceptional drinking experiences, each with its own distinct characteristics and appeal. While Maker’s Mark may be more widely recognized on a global scale, Maker’s 46 has carved out its own niche as a premium expression appreciated by discerning whiskey drinkers.

How Do I Choose Between Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46?

When faced with the delightful decision of choosing between Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46, several factors come into play, each contributing to the overall experience and enjoyment of these premium bourbons.

First and foremost, consider the flavor profile that appeals most to your palate. Maker’s Mark is renowned for its smooth and approachable taste, characterized by subtle notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. This classic flavor profile makes it a versatile option for both casual sipping and cocktail mixing, appealing to a wide range of whiskey enthusiasts.

On the other hand, Maker’s 46 offers a more intricate and robust flavor experience, thanks to its unique aging process involving seared French oak staves. This process imparts additional layers of complexity, with pronounced notes of spice, sweetness, and toasted oak. If you crave a bourbon with depth and character, Maker’s 46 may be the ideal choice for indulging in moments of luxury and sophistication.

Consider also the price point and occasion when making your selection. Maker’s Mark is generally more affordable and accessible, making it a practical option for everyday enjoyment or gatherings with friends. Its smooth and mellow character lends itself well to casual sipping or mixing in cocktails, making it a versatile addition to any home bar.

On the other hand, Maker’s 46 is positioned as a premium expression, reflecting its unique craftsmanship and enhanced flavor profile. While it may come with a higher price tag, Maker’s 46 offers a luxurious drinking experience that is perfect for special occasions or moments of indulgence. Whether savored neat, on the rocks, or in sophisticated cocktails, Maker’s 46 adds a touch of elegance and refinement to any celebration or gathering.

Key Takeaways

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. 


  1. Spiceology and Maker’s Mark 46® Reimagine Family Recipes with Four New Spice Blends
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