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George’s Rants & Raves: Maker’s 46

What’s in a name? Well, sometimes it’s a number that stands out and not just the name. Take these iconic numbered brand names for instance; Chanel No. 5, WD40, 3M, 7-Eleven, Levi Strauss 501, Formula 409, MGD 64, Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and of course the point of all this, Makers Mark 46.

What’s in a number? Numerology has been around for centuries and still affecting people’s lives every day, even today. Thirteen and 666 are considered unlucky in predominantly Christian countries; while 888 sounds like “good fortune” in Chinese. Conversely, four is a bad number in China because in Mandarin and Cantonese it sounds like “to die.” During school exam-time earlier this year, Shanghai’s largest taxi company bowed to public pressure by recalling all cars with the number four in the license plate; apparently no one wants to go to an exam in an unlucky cab. I think the following numbers have been fairly lucky for these companies.

3M comes from the company’s original name, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.

7-Eleven named their convenience stores to reflect their newly extended hours, 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Levi Strauss 501, around 1890 Levi Strauss assigned lot number 501 to jeans featuring six copper rivets, a button fly, and heavyweight denim. They featured a rear pocket design showing a pair of arches made with orange thread. The pocket stitch was trademarked in 1943 and remains one of the oldest design trademarks in the U.S. Does the number 501 have special meaning? No one knows for sure. Many of Levi’s records were lost in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906

WD40 took their scientists 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD-40, which stands for Water Displacement, perfected on the 40th try, is still in use today.

Chanel No. 5 was chosen by Coco Chanel in 1920 when she was presented with small glass vials of scents numbered 1-5 and 20-24, for her assessment, she chose the composition contained in the fifth vial. Chanel told her master perfumer, Ernest Beaux, whom she had commissioned to develop a fragrance with modern innovations: “I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck.”

Formula 409 Is explained on the official Formula 409 Web site: “Formula 409 didn’t get its name from the area code where it was developed. It’s not the birth date of the creator’s daughter. Formula 409 got its name from perseverance.” It’s true. It took a lot of work. After 408 tries, two Detroit scientists finally got the formula for their cleaner right.”

MGD 64 is Miller Genuine Draft and the “64? stands for 64 calories. By contrast, a regular bottle of Miller Genuine Draft has 143 calories.

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
It’s one of the most-often-asked questions about the well-known Whiskey: Why did Jack Daniel name his product “Old No. 7?? Unfortunately, no one really knows, and the theories are many. But according to Whiskey Business: The Many Myths of Jack Daniels”, the most reasonable explanation may be the one offered by Jack Daniel biographer Peter Krass. He explains: Jack was originally assigned a district tax assessment number of 7. But when the IRS consolidated districts within Tennessee, they arbitrarily assigned him the number 16. Jack didn’t want to confuse his loyal consumers and he certainly didn’t want to bend to the government, so he began labeling his bottles “Old No. 7.”

And that finally brings us to Makers Mark 46. A while back Master Distiller Kevin Smith began some lengthy “trial and error” to create something new and different. After 45 failures and bad ideas, in December 2009, he finally got it right. He took fully matured Maker’s Mark and removed it from the barrel and then affixed ten wooden seared staves to the inside of that barrel. It turns out that searing the staves caramelizes the sugars in the wood and adds unique flavor. Then the fully matured Maker’s Mark was returned to the barrel and aged several more months. And now, it’s my turn to see if Kevin got it right.

Straight from the bottle my nose is greeted with alcohol up front which eventually dissipates and reveals rich, thick, mellow, oaky caramel and a mixture of pepper and vanilla that seems to have been inserted into a leather pouch made of the finest supple calf skin. As it hits my mouth, I get a blast of the best bourbon flavor there is. This is quickly followed by a peppery tingle that sifts through complex layers of that vanilla and leather and leaves my mouth and throat warm and happy. Very much like sitting in front of a roaring fire in a cabin high up in the Rockies during a snow storm. Yummmmmmm.

And that was straight up, however I prefer my bourbon with branch water. Branch water is what they called spring water back in the South, back in the day. I would hazard to guess that the best branch water for this purpose would undoubtedly be the water used in making Maker’s Mark in the first place but since I don’t live in Kentucky I got my hands on the best spring water I could get. By the by, I also make my ice cubes from that same spring water so as not to foul up the taste in any way.

WOW, this is a whole ‘nother critter. This drink is unbelievably smooth and delicate, and dare I say, velvety. The taste is much mellower and very, very enjoyable. This is true sipping bourbon. That bit of branch brought this bourbon a whole new lease on life and it may have just become my best friend. Get yourself a jug. At about $40.00, it’s really quite reasonable and quite good and just might become your best friend.

By George Brozowski

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