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Issue 8 - The Mark of a classic (Maker's Mark)

Whisky Magazine Issue 8
February 2000


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The Mark of a classic (Maker's Mark)

Hand-made Maker's Mark bourbon tastes irresistibly good. Stuart MacLean Ramsay describes an enthralling encounter with Kentucky's alchemists

Tom Bethel is the maître d' and resident bourbon expert at Higgins, my favourite bar and restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Like all true professionals in the business of social arts, Tom has the effortless skill of making his guests comfortable, laying the foundation for a perfect evening of drinking, eating and conversation. Higgins is a busy place, so Tom often suggests a pre-dinner drink in the bar. It is one of those rare establishments where, no matter if the place is packed, the waves of the madding crowd will miraculously part, leading inevitably to an empty seat and a
smiling bartender.

If Tom is still hanging around, a good maître d' is never far from his guests, the conversation invariably turns to spirits. “Try this,” he says, as the bartender rolls his eyes, “with three small ice cubes and a splash of water.” He sets a bottle of Maker's Mark Kentucky straight bourbon on the bar and heads back to work the front of the restaurant. Within 20 minutes, one more innocent has been converted to the great social lubricant of Kentucky.

Tom lives up the street from me and, with the pure and unselfish motive of reducing unemployment in the Highlands, I have plied him with Highland Park, Mortlach, Ardbeg and even my precious The Macallan 18. All of Scotland's phenols and esters, her fusel oils and aldehydes, have had little effect. Tom is an unreconstructed Maker's man, and an evening with him leads inexorably onto his front porch, to polish off a bottle of the stuf...

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