Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Edition Wood Finishing Series Review

The first time I and a friend cracked a bottle of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, he said, correctly, “This is what Maker’s Mark should have been all along. Why did they wait so long to release at this proof?” I agreed.

Maker's Mark 2020 Limited Edition Wood Finishing Series Review Header


  • DISTILLER: Maker's Mark
  • MASH BILL:70% Corn  |  16% Red Winter Wheat  |  14% Malted Barley
  • Cooperage: Charred American White Oak and Custom Stave Finishing
  • AGE:NAS but approximated by the company at 6 years +/- 1 year
  • YEAR: 2020
  • PROOF: 110.8 Proof (55.4% ABV)
  • MSRP: $59.99


NOSE: Warm Cruller | Brown Sugar | Sweet Corn | Cooked Meringue Icing

TASTE:Nutella | Molasses Cookie | Sugar Cone | Toasted Oak

FINISH:Long and warm; slowly drying

SHARE WITH: Anyone who likes any style of whiskey.

WORTH THE PRICE: Absolutely, and especially because there are so many poseurs at this price. That Maker’s puts out something this good, this unique and at this affordable a price—when so many brands launch today with triple-digit-priced bottles of sourced whiskeys—is simply amazing. Whether Maker’s intended to make the statement that superb whiskey needn’t cost a fortune, I don’t know, but to me … inferred point well made.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle. All day. Every day.

OVERALL: The first time I and a friend cracked a bottle of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, he said, correctly, “This is what Maker’s Mark should have been all along. Why did they wait so long to release at this proof?” I agreed. Neither of us knew then how committed to barrel strength releases Maker’s since the Private Select program (recently renamed Private Selection program) was still in the design stage. Maker’s spent 50 years becoming famous as a one-hit whiskey wonder, but in the 10 years since it released Maker’s 46, it’s shown a high level of skill in creating variations on that long-established theme.

Maker’s Mark first Limited Release, the Stave Profile RC6, was awarded a Double Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It was a dandy that set the standard—but not the template—for this one. To me, the 2020 SE4 x PR5 stave profile is less lip-smacking honey-licious than RC6, but far more candy- and pastry-like than its predecessor. If I can find a bakery in town that makes a decent cruller, I’ll pair it with its whiskey soul sister in a minute. If not, I’m sure a suitable croissant will suffice. Though different from the RC6, this is an all-around terrific bourbon.



Our second-annual limited release from the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series is an utterly unique bourbon that’s also a worthy tribute to the one-of-a-kind vanilla and caramel taste notes that make our signature Maker’s Mark so distinctive. The result of two stave profiles (SE4xPR5) utilized together, this exclusive expression will appear on shelves for a limited time only. Ask your local retailer about availability in your area.

While our 2019 Limited Release was the result of a single stave profile (RC6), it took two stave profiles (SE4xPR5)—developed in partnership with Independent Stave Company and ultimately utilized together—to achieve the perfect balance of vanilla and caramel in our 2020 Release.

NOSE: Heavy vanilla with spiced caramel

TASTE: Butter pecan ice cream, vanilla with creamy butter notes, dry spice and caramelized sweetness.

FINISH: Long, round and dry.


Loretto, Ky. (August 18, 2020) – Maker’s Mark® today announced the launch of the Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Release, the second nationally available limited release bourbon in its Wood Finishing Series. Following the success of last year’s award-winning Stave Profile RC6 release, which amplified fruit flavors inspired by the proprietary Maker’s Mark yeast strain, this year’s release showcases the distillery’s pursuit of enhanced vanilla and caramel notes that have defined its classic expression for more than fifty years.

The Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Release joins the Wood Finishing Series as the distillery celebrates the 10th anniversary of Maker’s Mark 46®, the first innovation utilizing its pioneering stave finishing technique to draw out and highlight distinctive characteristics inherent to Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

“Since the introduction of Maker’s Mark 46, wood staves have become our tool of choice for unlocking and amplifying natural flavors already present in our classic Maker’s Mark – always purposefully and with a specific taste vision in mind,” says Jane Bowie, Director of Innovation at Maker’s Mark. “Where Maker’s Mark 46 was about creating a ‘bolder’ Maker’s, and the 2019 release was all about boosting the notes of baking spice and fruit, our 2020 Limited Release has been a quest to amp up those rich vanilla and buttery-caramel flavors that typically stem from our unique approach to seasoning our barrel wood outside for a full year.”

This year’s limited offering differs from its 2019 predecessor by utilizing two stave styles – one drawing on vanilla, the other on caramel – that when married together yield a rich Maker’s Mark reminiscent of butter pecan. The multi-stave approach was the result of more than twelve months of experimentation with Maker’s Mark barrel producer Independent Stave Company. The first stave in the 2020 Limited Release, SE4, is made from Virgin French Oak, convection cooked at medium heat with a short toast period and responsible for much of the caramel flavor. The second stave, PR5, is made from Virgin American Oak and convection cooked at low heat very slowly over time to bring out vanilla.

Like existing Wood Finishing Series offerings Maker’s Mark 46 and Maker’s Mark Private Selection®, the 2020 Limited Release was purposefully crafted by finishing fully-matured, cask strength Maker’s Mark in secondary barrels containing the proprietary wood staves. The barrels were then rested in the Maker’s Mark limestone bourbon cellar where the cask strength bourbon interacts with the staves, before being mingled together to develop the expression’s unique flavor.

Bottled at 110.8 proof, each 750mL bottle of the Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Release will retail for a suggested $59.99 and will be available nationwide beginning in September, while supplies last.

Disclaimer: Maker's Mark provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.