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Maker’s Mark vs Woodford Reserve: Head to Head!

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

Maker’s Mark

  • Nose: Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, almond
  • Palate: Rye spice, caramel, dried fruit, nuts
  • Finish: Long, caramel, rye spice
  • Alcohol content: 90 proof (45% ABV)
  • How to drink: Rocks, cocktails
  • Similar to: Jack Daniel’s, Four Roses


There is nail polish on the nose at first that fades into vanilla and cherry as you let it breathe.

On the palate you get vanilla, caramel, cherry and honey with a pleasant moutheel. The finish is moderate and sweet with very little heat and a tad of pepper.

Adding a drop of water brings a Tootsie Pop flavor, tunes-down the spicy note making it easier to sip.

Is it good?

Maker’s Mark is a well-rounded 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.

This is one of the few bourbons along Pappy Van Winkle, Weller and Larceny that use wheat in the mash bill and you can tell by the bread-like hints. 

It makes a good entry-level bottle to those curious about bourbon or a nice “everyday whisky” for those looking for a non-challenging sipper.

This is a versatile bourbon that you can sip neat, drink on the rocks or make homemade cocktails with it, although I’m not fond of using wheated bourbons as mixers as they lack the punch to deliver a tasty cocktail.

Maker’s Mark facts:

  • Maker’s Mark is made from 70% corn, 16% red wheat, and 14% malted barley. 
  • Maker’s Mark uses wheat as secondary grain as opposed to rye making it sweeter, less spicy and hence easier to drink.
  • 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 owns Jim Beam and is headquartered in Osaka.

Woodford Reserve

  • Nose: Mint, honey, vanilla, citrus
  • Palate: Sweet oak, cinnamon, mint, ripe fruit
  • Finish: Oak, caramel, baking spice
  • Alcohol content: 90 proof (45% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: Buffalo Trace, Larceny


Woodford Reserve is pleasant and subtle on the nose, with hints of wood, mint, vanilla and caramel.

Palate is sweet and spicy yet entirely smooth. Some oak up front, but in moderation, along cinnamon, mint, and a sweet fruity note.

The finish brings additional sweetness, along oak, and satisfying warmth that lingers.

Is it good?

The Woodford Bourbon is nicely balanced, body is creamy and does not have any off-putting or demanding notes.

It makes a great sipper due to its smoothness and yet spicy cinnamon notes.

This is a sweet and mellow bourbon with the right level of heat that drinkers of all levels will appreciate alike.

Excellent everyday bourbon, smooth and clean, good both neat and on ice.

I find it somewhat weak to make great cocktails. I’d rather use the Woodford Rye that has many tasting notes in common but with additional rye in the mash making it more spicy and punchy.

Woodford Reserve facts:

  • Woodford’s mash bill is made from 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% barley; the rye content makes it a bit spicy.
  • This bourbon ages for 7 years in one of the few warehouses that uses heat cycling. This process involves cooling and heating the air to closely control the aging.
  • Earned gold and double gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • Woodford Reserve is part of the portfolio of spirits of Brown Forman that includes others brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Old Forester and Herradura Tequila.

Maker’s Mark vs Woodford Reserve: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Maker’s Mark$32
Woodford Reserve $40

Maker’s Mark vs Woodford Reserve: Which is better?

Woodford Reserve is a more satisfying bourbon than Maker’s Mark

WhiskeyMaker’s MarkWoodford Reserve
  • Woodford Reserve is better than Maker’s Mark, The Woodford Reserve is a complex and tasty pour that strikes a nice balance between sweet and spicy notes, with the right level of warmth making an entirely satisfying bourbon.
  • Maker’s Mark is a sweet and basic wheated bourbon with some nice tasting notes but a bit dull, TBH. Not bad for newbies to bourbon or liquors in general but far away from the Woodford Reserve which is much tastier and complex dram.
  • Neither one nor the other are the best mixers, though, as they lack the spice and warmth to make good cocktails. Look into my roundup of the best rye whiskeys and choose one to make a good and tasty Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

If you want to learn how this bourbons rank among the rest look into my post: 20 Most Popular Bourbons Ranked from Worst to Best

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