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Maker’s Mark vs Weller Special Reserve: Which Wins?

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

Maker’s Mark

NoseCaramel, vanilla, fruity notes
PalateSweet, nutty, baking spice, bread-like flavor
FinishHoneyed, smooth and a bit of spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water, rocks
Similar toBulleit, Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s

Maker’s Mark is one of the best-selling whiskeys and one of the few carrying wheat on the mash as secondary grain behind instead of rye.

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.

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 similar whiskeys to the Maker’s Mark that you should consider if you want to explore further options.

There are few facts about Maker’s Mark worth knowing:

  • 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.

Weller Special Reserve

NoseMaple, apple, leather, oak
PalateCaramel, vanilla, chocolate, baking spice
FinishOld leather, cinnamon, oak
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, add water
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Bernheim, Garrison Bros

Weller is also a wheated bourbon crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery along some top-bourbons such as Pappy and Blanton’s.

Nose is smooth and mostly sweet, rich in maple honey, apples, with some old leather and oak coming behind.

On the palate, the Special Reserve brings caramel, vanilla and cinnamon at first, followed by dark chocolate and a dash of citrus.

Finish is warming yet pleasant, somewhat dry, with lasting flavors of old leather, spicy cinnamon candy and oak spice.

Drinks nicely neat with very little to no burn, yet adding a drop of water releases sweetness, along more oak making it more tasty.

Weller Special Reserve is smooth and sweet as you would expect from a wheated bourbon. It could use more body as it feels to be lacking a bit, but overall this is a satisfying pour nonetheless.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Weller Special Reserve:

  • Weller uses an undisclosed amount of wheat in the mash but likely to be around 15%.
  • Weller was the first bourbon back in 1849 to add wheat to the mash as a secondary grain behind corn.
  • Weller is aged anywhere from 4 to 7 years.
  • Earned a Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

What do Maker’s Mark and Weller have in common?

They are wheated bourbons

Both bourbons use a high proportion of wheat in the mash bill. Wheated bourbons have a softer and more gentle flavor as compared to bourbons that use rye as their secondary grain, and have a slightly sweeter taste.

Maker’s Mark vs Weller: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Maker’s Mark$32
Weller Special Reserve$60

Maker’s Mark vs Weller Special Reserve: Which is better?

Weller offers a better experience

WhiskeyMaker’s MarkWeller Special Reserve
  • Maker’s is a very basic entry level bourbon perfectly suited for new drinkers or a good alternative to Weller as it has some tasting notes in common as they are both wheated bourbons.
  • But if you unconcerned about price treat yourself with the Weller which is a more complex and satisfying bourbon offering a better rounded experience.

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