Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 Review[In Depth]

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
Maker's Mark Cellar Aged bourbon header

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 Details

Distillery: Maker’s Mark

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 57.87%

Composition: 70% corn, 16% soft winter wheat, 14% malted barley

Aged: Blend of 11 and 12 year old bourbon

Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)

Price: $150

From the company website:

Aging our whisky for over 10 years wasn’t something we ever did. Not because we didn’t believe in it but because we hadn’t found our way of doing it. Maker’s Mark® Cellar Aged defines an older whisky that’s distinctly Maker’s. By embracing both the unique impact that our warehouse and cellar maturation have on flavor, we’ve created an older expression that is richer and more complex whilst staying true to the founder’s taste vision of bourbon without the bite.

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 overview

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged 2023 edition is a landmark bottle. This may be the first time EVER that Maker’s Mark has explicitly stated the age of the bourbon: a blend of 11 year old (13%) and 12 year old (87%) bourbons.
But this isn’t your usual bourbon 11-12 year old bourbon, which is also great by the way. Maker’s Mark has done some maturation trickery to create a different experience. To start, this is what Maker’s said in the video on their website – “…take fully matured barrels of Maker’s Mark from our traditional warehouses and rotate them into our limestone cellar, which stays at 50 degrees (farenheit) or cooler. In this environment it allows our whiskey to create these deeper, richer, and more complex flavor notes, all without bitterness. As always, we’re aged to taste, not time.”
Translating that, they take the usual Maker’s Mark (likely barrels from choice sections of their rickhouses) that has aged for 5-7ish years (I think) in your usual multi-story rickhouse that face constant fluctuations in temperature and humidity, and then move barrels to the cooler and very stable underground cellar for give or take 5-6 years.
The cellar aging takes a page from Armagnac (and maybe cognac). Armagnacs are usually aged in underground cellars, using “dry” or “wet” aging. Maker’s Mark is likely using “dry” aging to change and slow down the aging process by removing the huge fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Read more about what “dry” and “wet” aging from Darroze, one of the premier Armagnac brands.
I can’t say for sure what happens in the cellar, but it’s reasonable to think that it slows down the interaction between oak and whiskey. The whiskey gets less oak influence during the period it’s cellar aged, but I can’t say for sure if it leads to more fruit or anything else. Something’s happening in there, otherwise Maker’s wouldn’t waste 5-6 years aging barrels there.
Find out if double-digit aged Maker’s Mark hits the mark in this Maker’s Mark Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged bourbon review.
Thank you to Maker’s Mark for proving this sample. All opinions are still my own.
Maker's Mark Cellar Aged bourbon front
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As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 smell

Up first there’s caramel, apricot, a lot of this lightly toasted cedar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange peel, dried cherry, chocolate malt ball, clove, maple syrup, and this fragrant fresh-baked bread. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged has an interesting and gentler oakiness that’s not so roasted or heavy. And guess what, there’s absolutely ZERO wheaty gumminess. I am not a fan of the gumminess so I’m glad it’s gone.
I’m guessing that the cellar aging slowed down the interaction between liquid and oak so the oakiness is less intense, although still long enough that it’s very present. It doesn’t have the same level of oakiness that I come to expect from 11+ year old bourbons such as the intense and dark Russell’s Reserve 13 Year or even Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. I have never had a Maker’s Mark that smelled like this.
After swirling and 12 minutes of rest, I get a mix of caramel and maple syrup, chocolate malt ball, vanilla, slightly more roasty oak that has an interesting effervescence, orange peel and apricot, cinnamon, clove, freshly baked bread, and a little more heat than before. I dig the denser dark sugary sweetness with a good amount of fruitiness. I wish the fruit was stronger, as it is in “dusty” Maker’s, but that’s probably being unreasonable.
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is an oak-spice-forward bourbon that brings nice effervescence, darkness, and fragrance. It doesn’t necessarily stray far from the general Maker’s profile, but does it so much better in every way. I really enjoy how well-controlled the oak: everywhere but not overdone. This is more or less what I’ve been wanting from Maker’s Mark for years.

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 taste and aftertaste

The flavors start with caramel, vanilla, orange peel, apricot, roasted oak, clove, cinnamon, dried cherry, freshly baked bread, coconut meat, and a little grassiness and maple syrup. It’s delicious, and one of the best modern expressions of Maker’s Mark that I’ve had. There’s no gumminess and overdone grassiness that plague more recent Maker’s Mark Cask Strengths too.
For 11-12 year old bourbon, it’s definitely oaky but not that intense. Like the scents, it’s still a more subdued yet all-encompassing oakiness that makes it a mature and refined wheated bourbon. It’s like opening a cedar closet in an older Japanese house. That said, Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is nothing like the more chocolate-forward Weller 12 Year. This is more like a mature and refined Weller Antique 107.
At the same time, the range feels a bit limited. This may sound kind of crazy, but as much as this tastes like a great wheated bourbon, it doesn’t stray from that formula. There are no surprises.
To immediately contradict myself, “chewing” absolutely changes the game. I get an explosion of caramel, dried apricot, malted chocolate, vanilla, toasted oak, coconut, red apple and dried cherry, cinnamon, clove, and baked bread. So much so that I get this distinctive flavor of Cantonese coconut bun drizzled in apricot (the apricot isn’t normal for the bun), and that stuff is mad good.
“Chewing” cranks everything up to 10 and makes it come alive, especially the sugar sweetness and apricot fruitiness. I’m calling it now, this is a “whoa, Top Shelf+” experience. I am a sucker for all that fruitiness. This is peak Maker’s Mark and I’m sold. This is the type of experience I was looking for with Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2023 and Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2023. I wanted that pop, that zing, that “whoosh” of flavor that gave me no choice but to adore it. Maker’s Mark came in and stole my heart.
The finish starts with caramel, maple syrup, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, and dried orange peel and cherry with a pleasant lingering smooth cinnamon, toasted oak, baked bread, clove, and faint hint of nuttiness. After “chewing”, it leaves caramel, roasted oak, coconut, dried apricot and orange peel, cinnamon, and clove with lingering roasty sweetness and spice. The oaky age is there, but it’s tastefully controlled.
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged doesn’t win with range, but it dominates with incredible expressiveness and pop that provides back and forth layers of sweetness, fruitiness, oak, coconut, and spice that I can’t stop enjoying.
I am blown away by this. “Chewing” transforms this from great to AMAZING. Jeez, I had no idea that Maker’s Mark still had this in them.

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I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too.

Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged 2023 Rating

Top Shelf +
I want a bottle of this and I want it now! Now I say! Unfortunately, this bottle is going to be difficult to obtain, and I doubt that this review will make it easier to do so. I should start by writing that Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is some of the best Maker’s Mark bourbon they’ve released in years. It’s not quite to the same level as the stupidly unforgettable versions from the 80’s and 90’s, but it’s no slouch either.
Over the past few years, I honestly haven’t been all that impressed with the base Maker’s, Private Selects, or Cask Strengths (all “Mid Shelf+” or lower). They’ve all felt noticeably rushed. Now that Maker’s Mark finally slowed down and let the bourbon mature longer, oh boy the results are spectacular.
Here’s hot take #1 – short of William Larue Weller, which I’ve never had, this may be one of the best wheated bourbons to come out in years. Here’s hot take #2 – this is one of the more compelling allocated releases of the season. For me at least, it outdoes Old Forester Birthday Bourbon and Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2023.
I think Maker’s Mark is onto something big with this cellar aging thing. From my sample of this one bourbon, dialing down the volatility in the aging process infuses more nuance and complexity into the bourbon while controlling the oak. All that flavorful and vibrant pop as a result is unforgettable. I want more of this AND more experimentation that doesn’t include staves.
The 11-12 years of total aging (not exclusively in the cellar), helps a lot too. Don’t get me wrong, I like oaky bourbons such as Hardin’s Creek Clermont, but I get tired of that type of bourbon fairly quickly. With Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, the oak is still clearly there in the background, but primarily to support the sweetness and fruitiness. It’s a wonderful balance.
This begs the question, what now? How can I go back to the usual Maker’s Mark fare when it feels so…inadequate and young? Can Maker’s Mark release a middle ground that isn’t necessarily as good as the 11-12 year old Cellar Aged, but is better than the usual stuff? That’s a lot of questions, but my main point is that I want a reason to drink more Maker’s Mark. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is an amazing start, and I want more top quality options.
Until Maker’s Mark ups their game, drinking most other Maker’s Mark bourbon (except the 2014-2015 cask strengths + dusties) is going to be disappointing. Maker’s Mark did such an amazing job that they ruined Maker’s Mark for me.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)