Maker’s Mark is Pushing the Boundaries of Finished Bourbon with New FAE-02

Maker's Mark Wood Finishing Series 2021, FAE-02.

The Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series has added a fourth addition to the family, and with the introduction of FAE-02, the whiskey world continues to see how far Director of Innovation Jane Bowie and her team can push the boundaries of finished bourbon.

The Wood Finishing Series launched as the distillery’s first limited-edition offering in 2019 with Maker’s Mark RC6, a fruit-forward expression named for the stave the distillery uses to highlight fruit and spice flavors in their wheated bourbon. In 2020, the distillery followed with Maker’s Mark SE4xPR5, which blended two different stave finished bourbons to bring out intense caramel and vanilla notes. If the algebra-like combination of letters and numbers seems confusing, you’re not alone – moving forward, the distillery will name each release “Wood Finishing Series 202X.”

That pattern began earlier this year, with the release of Wood Finishing Series 2021 – FAE-01. FAE stands for “fatty acid esters,” chains of lipids left in bourbon during bottling due to the distillery’s traditional lack of chill filtration. While the first two Wood Finishing Series releases from the distillery were crafted with specific flavor notes in mind, Bowie set out with this year’s releases to focus on texture. Chill filtration brings the temperature of your bourbon down during the bottling process, turning oils in the barrel to solids and trapping them in a filter. While removing these oils can make for a clear and pretty final product, it also removes flavor, and most importantly, rich mouthfeel and texture.

“Our first 2021 release (FAE-01) was crafted to hit you in the face with big, bold aroma and flavor, just like standing in a barrel warehouse – wood, tobacco and spicy dried fruit,” says Bowie. “With FAE-02, we wanted to explore the softer side of our 2021 taste vision by placing more of the focus on rich, consistent texture and tone that stems from fatty acid esters. Just like the things we find so comforting about artisanal butters, olive oils and creamy spreads, FAE-02 delivers a fattier, full-bodied, mature Maker’s Mark bourbon that makes for an ideal sip on a Fall evening.”

Official tasting notes from the distillery tell us to look for nose of “toasty, sweet oak with caramel and light brown sugar,” a palate that is “texture forward with deep oak notes and spice,” and a finish that is “long, balanced and consistent in texture and tone.” The new FAE-02 will be bottled at a cask strength 109.1 proof.

Bottles of Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series 2021 FAE-02 will begin appearing on shelves in all 50 states later this month for a suggested retail price of around $60.

Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.