Maker's Mark went to the woodshed to create its first new product in 50 years: Maker's 46. The new bourbon starts as original Maker's Mark; when fully mature, specially seared French oak staves are added to the barrel for several more months of aging. (The name 46 comes from the barrel-maker's numbered "wood recipe.") So is Maker's better with age? Alive's whiskey drinkers put it to the taste test.

Maker's Mark went to the woodshed to create its first new product in 50 years: Maker's 46. The new bourbon starts as original Maker's Mark; when fully mature, specially seared French oak staves are added to the barrel for several more months of aging. (The name 46 comes from the barrel-maker's numbered "wood recipe.") So is Maker's better with age? Alive's whiskey drinkers put it to the taste test.

Brad Keefe:

Maker's Mark:

The bourbon that got me started with whiskey snobbery is an old favorite, but one that I outgrew pretty quickly as my tastes evolved. Still a great option if you're mixing.

Maker's 46:

Far more complex than its little brother. A little spicy, a little peppery, and you can really taste that earthy, woody goodness. I suspect it's just dandy neat.

Brian Lindamood:

Maker's Mark:

That classic bourbon vanilla flavor really comes through, and it's remarkably smooth for a 90-proof whiskey. This is my go-to mixer for old fashioneds and Manhattans.

Maker's 46:

A great sipping whiskey. You can really taste the wood up front, but it gives way to rich, complex layers of sweet and spicy flavors. Here's to seared French oak!

Shelley Mann:

Maker's Mark:

Lacks any noticeable aroma, but tastes sweet, like vanilla. A little too sweet. It's smooth, but I'd have no qualms about mixing it with something sugary.

Maker's 46:

Everything about this bourbon is impressive - the aroma is nice and complex, it's warm and smooth and goes down easy, and it has the slightest hint of caramel flavor.

Jesse Tigges:

Maker's Mark:

I had trouble differentiating the original from the 46. The giveaway was a sweetness absent from the 46, and a stronger bite, but it's still fine for sipping on the rocks.

Maker's 46:

With a unique smoothness, this higher-proof bourbon blends just the right amount of the original recipe with slight hints of smoky oak to create a more mature taste.

The verdict:

Maker's 46! Our panel unanimously preferred the richer profile of the new 46 - perfect for slow sipping and oak-aged conversation.