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Buffalo Trace vs Maker’s Mark: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Buffalo Trace vs Maker’s Mark in this in-depth comparison and decide which Bourbon is better for You!

Buffalo Trace

  • Nose: Caramel, cinnamon, baking spice, cereal
  • Palate: Caramel, vanilla, oak, espresso coffee, chocolate
  • Finish: Vanilla, baking spice, oak
  • Alcohol content: 90 proof (45% ABV)
  • How to drink: Neat, rocks
  • Similar to: Eagle Rare, Woodford Reserve


Buffalo Trace is one of the best-selling bourbons for two good reasons: it’s smooth and tasty and attractively priced providing a good experience and good value for the money.

Nose is very subtle with notes of caramel, vanilla and a touch of baking spice. 

Taste hits the spice a little harder, displays oak and fruit and the underlying sweetness is still there, a little caramel and vanilla goes a long way. Mouthfeel is soft and approachable, light on the heat.

The finish has a moderate length, rich in vanilla and baking spice, although flavors don’t sit on the tongue for long but leave a refreshing sensation in the mouth.

Is it good?

The Buffalo Trace is a well-rounded bourbon, making a nice easy sipper with a medium to full body, soft with a chewy feel, fruity and oaky with a medium spicy finish.

It’s not intense or mind-blowing, but it gets the job done delivering a pleasant and satisfying bourbon.

Overall, Buffalo Trace is a solid mid-shelf bourbon, a sipper that does not need neither water nor ice. Makes a solid option for an “everyday whiskey” although not the best mixer as it lacks the punch to deliver tasty cocktails.

If you want to consider further options I’ve compiled a list of alternatives to Buffalo Trace that you should look into as it has become harder to find due to additional demand.

Buffalo Trace facts:

  • Buffalo Trace is made from corn, rye and malted barley in undisclosed amounts.
  • Buffalo Trace uses a unique aging process of 8 years in which the barrels are stored in the middle floors of the warehouse where temperature fluctuations are the greatest.
  • According to Buffalo Trace who has been using the same recipe and methods for the last 200+ years these variations get reflected in the bourbon creating deeper flavors.
  • 40 barrels at a time are chosen to create one single, small batch of Buffalo Trace.
  • Crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery owned by the Louisiana-based Sazerac Company.

Maker’s Mark

  • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, fruity notes
  • Palate: Sweet, nutty, baking spice, bread-like flavor
  • Finish: Honeyed, smooth with a bit of spice
  • Alcohol content: 90 proof (45% ABV)
  • How to drink: Rocks, cocktails
  • Similar to: Jack Daniel’s, Maker’s Mark 46


This is the type of bourbon known as “wheated” and tends to be smoother and sweeter than the classic bourbon.

The nose has a nail polish note that fades into vanilla and cherry as you let it develop in the glass.

On the palate Maker’s Mark delivers vanilla, caramel, cherry and honey providing a pleasant mouthfeel.

The finish has a moderate length, is sweet with very little warmth and just a dash of black pepper.

Adding a drop of water makes it taste like a Tootsie Pop, while tuning down the spicy note making it easier to sip.

Is it good?

Maker’s Mark is a well-rounded and enjoyable bourbon without any bold flavors. Nothing stands-out but there are no off-putting notes as it is nicely balanced, yet with enough body.

It makes a good entry-level bottle to those new to bourbon or liquors in general or a nice “everyday whisky” for those looking for a non-challenging sipper.

I’m not fond of using wheated bourbons as mixers as I feel they lack the punch to deliver tasty cocktails making me prefer a classic rye whiskey for an Old Fashioned.

I have compiled a list of alternatives to the Maker’s Mark that you should consider if you want to explore further options.

Maker’s Mark facts:

  • Maker’s Mark is made from 70% corn, 16% red wheat, and 14% malted barley. 
  • While most whiskeys age for a set amount of time, Maker’s is bottled when the tasters call it to be ready; that is between 6 and 7 years.
  • This one of the few whiskey brands in the United States that uses “whisky” instead of “whiskey” in its name due to the founders Scottish heritage.
  • Maker’s bottles stand out from the rest due to the red wax seal that is still made by hand nowadays.
  • Maker’s Mark is owned by Beam Suntory, a Japanese drinks giant who also holds Jim Beam, although they are crafted at different distilleries.

Buffalo Trace vs Maker’s Mark: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Buffalo Trace$35
Maker’s Mark$32

Buffalo Trace vs Maker’s Mark: Which is better?

Buffalo Trace is a more satisfying bourbon than Maker’s Mark

WhiskeyBuffalo TraceMaker’s Mark
  • The Buffalo Trace is a more tasty and satisfying dram than the Maker’s Mark with more complex flavors and a tad of rye spice yet quite smooth.
  • Maker’s Mark is a very basic bourbon, smoother due to the presence of wheat in the mash although not the most flavorful of bourbons.
  • Neither the Buffalo Trace nor the Maker’s are the best mixers as they lack the warmth and spice that good bourbons to make cocktails have.

What’s the difference between Buffalo Trace and Maker’s Mark?

The difference lies in the mash

Just to summarize, there is an important difference between these bourbons that you should consider before buying:

  • Buffalo Trace has moderate rye presence in the mash. Rye provides grassy and peppery notes, with a signature spicy finish.
  • Maker’s Mark uses wheat as secondary grain behind corn in the mash. Wheated bourbons have a softer and more friendly flavor as compared to bourbons that use rye as their secondary grain, and have a slightly sweeter taste.

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