Maker's Mark holds a special place in my bourbon journey as it was the first real bourbon I stocked as a house whiskey. That was probably 15 or so years ago and my preferences have changed considerably since then. These days I consider regular Maker's Mark a very middle of the road, average bourbon, somewhere around a C rating. If there are no better options I will happily drink it but there is no denying it is rather thin and lacking in depth. Given those shortcomings and my nostalgia for the brand, I was actually quite excited to hear about the release of the 101 expression.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; No Age Statement; 50.5% ABV; $38
Nose: Very familiar wheated bourbon smells - vanilla cake frosting with a pinch of fruits and wheater zippy spice. It is sweet and woody with a decent amount of depth / oak backbone yet all the while maintaining that soft and approachable wheated profile. Even if this might be the same age as standard Maker's, it doesn't nose as young. I suspect that is the increased proof giving it more umpf.
Taste: A reiteration of the nose - vanilla cake sweets, a bit of wood, and an overall soft profile. Again like the nose though, where the standard Maker's falls short, this actually has some legs to it and delivers a good amount of flavor depth across all the boxes I want checked - wood, sweet, fruit, and spice.
Thoughts: This is a very nice upgrade over standard Marker's. I will reiterate that I have some nostalgia for this brand so it might be skewing my judgement but I quite enjoyed this. It has that classic soft profile a good wheated bourbon should exhibit without being thin and shallow. All in all, it's a moderately well balanced bourbon and at a sub $40 price point, a pretty decent value in this market. I certainly thought so as this is my second bottle.
Note that price is not considered when assigning a rating.