Maker’s Mark BEP 2023 Review

Limited Release Wood Finishing Series

Maker’s Mark BEP 2023 is the seventh and final creation in the Wood Finishing Series. There will be a new product to replace this limited release item, but they haven’t revealed what that new product will be. Maker’s Mark says the brand’s focus for their BEP Limited Release is “showcasing the influence of our unique 110 barrel entry proof (BEP). It was crafted to amplify the balanced wood sugars, softer tannins and lasting finish achieved with our low 110 BEP. Special finishing staves were used to amplify notes of vanilla and sweet spice that naturally occur from lower BEPs.” Read on for the full Maker’s Mark BEP 2023 review.

The acronym BEP stands for “barrel entry proof,” which is the proof that the whiskey enters the barrel at to begin the aging process. By federal law, bourbon cannot enter the barrel at a proof over 125, but it can be lower. Maker’s Mark chose 110 as the entry proof for their BEP bourbon, and depending on the evaporation dynamics in the rick houses, the final cask strength release ranges between 109.9 – 110.7 proof.

Series: Wood Finishing Series – Limited Release
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: NAS
Proof: 110.7
Proof Designation: Cask Strength (109.9 – 110.7)
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley
Distillery: Maker’s Mark
Company: Beam Suntory
Release Date: March 2023
Batch Notes: 10 Virgin Toasted American Oak Staves
MSRP: $70 (2023)
Availability: Available

Maker's Mark BEP 2023 Review

The back label reads, “With our 2023 Wood Finishing Series release, we’re showcasing the influence of our unique 110 barrel entry proof (BEP). We go in at this lower proof to achieve the one-of-a-kind taste profile Bill Samuels, Sr., established in 1953. Anything less or more wouldn’t truly be or taste like the Maker’s Mark you know.”

“To celebrate our special 110 entry proof, we’ve created an expression that features even more of what you get from a lower entry proof – more wood sugars, more barrel characteristics and, ultimately, a more flavorful sip.”

“Our first chapter of the Wood Finishing Series has been a way of honoring all the elements that make Maker’s Mark. But with this seventh and final expression, we’re closing the chapter out (with a just-as-exciting chapter to follow). Enjoy accordingly!”

Maker’s Mark BEP 2023 Review

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.

Comparing 2023 BEP to 2022 BRT-01 and BRT-02, I personally prefer BRT-02 over BEP and BRT-01, and I notice that both BRT-01 and BEP used virgin American Oak staves for finishing, while BRT-02 used French Oak staves. Yes, I know that the BRT brothers were also stored on different floors of the rick house, but I can’t help but notice the similar “savory” notes of the American Oak batches (BRT-01 and BEP) compared to the sweeter notes of the French Oak batch (BRT-02).


Butterscotch, caramel, vanilla custard.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

District Drams: Gentle raspberry, vanilla custard, toasted oak, nougat.

Breaking Bourbon: Brown sugar and caramel, graham crackers, dry cinnamon sticks, and hearty charred oak along with a large dose of baking spices. An undeniable ethanol presence that stands out more than you’d expect for the proof. The dryness of the scents and ethanol note is noticeable and seems to tamper down the potential the nose has. While it is a rich opening that will please many, there’s no denying this nose still has room to spread its wings.

Robb Report: A slight bite with notes of apple, orange, and tobacco.


Cinnamon, baking spices, red hots, brief alcohol burn on the tip of the tongue, caramel, vanilla, a good amount of oak, leather, semi-sweet. The spiciness and tannins are more dominant than the sweetness. I prefer 2022 BRT-02 over 2023 BEP.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

District Drams: It’s wood driven but doesn’t cross the line of being too oak forward for me. Cinnamon, some caramel, and more vanilla cut that oak nicely. Hints of natural cherry.

Breaking Bourbon: Bold flavors of brown sugar, rich toasted oak, and brown butter pop are entwined with spicy cinnamon, dry aged oak, and baking spice notes. This is a delicious palate that most people imagine when they think of a well-developed classic Kentucky bourbon.

Robb Report: The palate is the star, as it should be, rich with notes of vanilla, milk chocolate, espresso, caramel, dark berry, and a nice hit of tannic oak in the background.


Medium finish with cinnamon, mild caramel, oak.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

District Drams: Again some oak, pepper, natural cinnamon, and a lingering caramel note balances out the finish.

Breaking Bourbon: A rush of cinnamon spice is immediately followed by notes of dry cinnamon stick, leather, and aged oak. Medium in length, the finish much like the rest of the sip and isn’t overly complex. Instead, it focuses on simpler flavor notes that wrap things up in a very pleasing way.

Robb Report: The finish is sweet and lingers, with a touch of heat.

Notes and History

All Maker’s Mark bourbons are wheated bourbons (70% corn, 16% wheat, 14% malted barley). In 2010 Maker’s Mark began experimenting with the addition of customized wood finishing staves in their bourbon, using an assortment of 10 staves to create different profiles. Using different types of oak and different types and degrees of heat treatment, each stave profile would bring different flavor characteristics to the finishing of the standard Marker’s Mark recipe. Maker’s Mark 46 (released in 2010 at 94 proof), was the first expression of this process and used 10 virgin French Oak staves with a stave profile simply called “46”.

In 2019 Maker’s Mark took this a step further and created the Wood Finishing Series. Each bourbon in the series used 10 custom staves of varying types and combinations to achieve different flavor profiles. Virgin American Oak and Virgin French Oak staves were used, sometimes toasted, sometimes not toasted, sometimes toasted on one side and raw on the other, sometimes heat-treated in two different ways to extract different flavor profiles.

Here are the profiles for the Wood Finishing Series Limited Release:

  • 2019 RC6 which used a cryptic proprietary stave profile of “RC6”
  • 2020 SE4 x PR5 – 2 stave profiles, one accentuating vanilla, the other, caramel
  • 2021 FAE-01 – Single-Toasted (one side) French Oak
  • 2021 – FAE-02 – Double heat-treated (with infrared, then a flame) French Oak
  • 2022 BRT-01 – American Oak staves
  • 2022 BRT-02 – French Oak staves
  • 2023 BEP – American Oak staves

I believe that the Marker’s Mark Private Selection Series was begun in Mach 2020 and it allows restaurants, bars, stores, and other private operations to go to Maker’s Mark and choose their own signature barrel and flavor profile using up to 5 different staves with 1,001 possible combinations.

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