Maker's Mark takes Private Select to UK

Maker’s Mark will be taking its Private Select programme to the UK for the first time later this month starting with its Harvey Nichols edition.

Private Select was created by Rob Sammuels, grandson of Maker’s founder Bill Sammuels Sr, in 2015 alongside Jane Connor who now heads up the programme in Kentucky.

The Private Select programme acts as an opportunity for restaurants and retailers to sell their own unique expression of whiskey and the liquid is made in a similar way to Maker’s 46 – by finishing cask strength Maker’s Mark in barrels fitted with finishing staves for an additional nine weeks.

The difference is that the invitation-only process allows representatives of the retailer to choose a combination of staves used to make up the barrel which will finish the whiskey with their desired flavour profile.

There are five different stave varieties to choose from including; Baked American Pure 2, Seared French Cuvée, Maker’s 46, Roasted French Mocha and Toasted French Spice which together creates 1001 potential combinations.

Private Select is non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength and the packaging is customised to the participating brand.

The Harvey Nichols expression will be released on sale on 22 October before The Whisky Shop follows with its own variety in early November.

“Private Select is our take on a single barrel programme, but it’s totally bespoke to the customer,” said Amanda Humphrey, Maker’s Mark brand diplomat. “That’s one of the important things for us to communicate well with the accounts we’re working with in order to understand the flavour profile they’re after.

“The programme creates an opportunity for a brand to make a seasonal bourbon for winter rather than summer for example, or for a bar to create a whiskey specifically to match in a cocktail.”

Every participating customer can expect to get 240-250 bottles per barrel and for display purposes Maker’s will ship the cask used in production to sit alongside the shelved product.

In order to remain a bourbon, the staves used in the finishing process are all brand new, however due to the fact the whiskey is transported from one barrel to another, the Private Select is not a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, but simply a Kentucky Bourbon.

The Private Select programme is a five-month process for the invited customers from stave selection to shelved bottles and Humphrey expects to invite two or three accounts per year.