This topic is always highly controversial because Bourbon drinkers are all very loyal to a specific brand and can tell you why their Bourbon is world best bourbon. So before you start yelling at me in the comment section, let me tell you the history and care that goes into Makers Mark Bourbon, and why I chose it as the world best bourbon whiskey.
Why Makers Mark Bourbon is World Best Bourbon
After prohibition, a man named Bill Samuels went to his father (who ran the TW Samuels Distillery) and suggested that they start to look into the family bourbon recipe and try to improve on it so they could then sell it (which was just an idea). In which his father replied "no thank you, the American people are thirsty enough, they will drink what we give them". Which in turn, made Bill Samuels decide to try and make his own bourbon, Makers Mark.
Bourbon back in these days was not an "smooth spirit", in which it was a harsh liquor to consume and would leave your tongue feeling as though it were on fire. Marge Samuels, the wife of Bill Samuels, and mother to Bill Samuels Jr. would always state "that shit will blow your ears off", because of how hard it was to consume bourbon with the current recipe. It seemed as if Americans agreed with her because the consensus was that Scotch and Canadian Whiskeys was what everyone was consuming now.
When WWII hit President Roosevelt ordered the closure of the bourbon distilleries so America could protect its grain supply and focus on supporting the war effort. Same thing in the 50's as the Korean War happened, everyone figured President Truman would do the same thing as Roosevelt and shut them down to get a better supply for the war.
Bill Samuels Sr at this time was 37 and retired from his family farm and real estate he owned. Marge Samuels was now running the farm and basically was getting irritated with Bill Sr. and told him to do whatever he wanted when prohibition ended and make a better bourbon, if not just to give him a hobby and out of her hair.
Since Bill got the "go ahead" he decided to get the help of some of his family friends which included the likes of Jerry Beam (son of Jim Beam), Daniel Evans "Hap" Motlow (son of Jack Daniels Lem Motlow), Pappy Van Winkle, and Ed Shapiro (Heaven Hill). Bills main objective was to concentrate not on the makings of the current bourbon but to concentrate on the taste buds of the tongue. How can we make a bourbon that will highlight the front of the tongue (the sweet and sweet spice area) instead of the back of the tongue (the sour and bitter area).
In these days bourbon was made up of corn, rye, and malt. Now since rye plays on the back of the tongue, Bill Sr. decided to just omit it all together in his new recipe. An interesting fact to all of this is that Marge decided she would bake bread with all of the possible grains that were used to make whiskey and they found an overwhelming favorite made out of a ground cover known as red river wheat.
There was a couple of inventions that led to the production of bourbon faster as well. The Hammer Mill, which explodes the grains instead of grinding them, in which leaves a heat to the bourbon that Bill Sr. did not want. Also the pressure cooker, which wont work because corn needs a higher temperature than wheat to break down so when you put those two grains in, by the time the corn gets broken down the wheat has left a lot of "harsh" elements in the whiskey.
As Bill Sr. kept educating himself towards a better tasting bourbon he was now left with the task of figuring out a better maturation process. This came to be by a man named J.E. Boswell of the Independent Stave Company in Missouri who put the final piece of the puzzle together. Since bourbon is matured in barrels, and barrels are made of staves that are dried in a kiln, Boswell had figured out that the wood to make the staves were left outside for a year and a half the natural elements would help reduce tannins much better than to be "quick dried" in a kiln. This combined with a medium char on the barrels would take Bill Samuels Sr. on his way of making a better tasting bourbon.
Now Bill needed to get financed, to no avail since the banks knew this was a dying market they would not give Bill Sr. any financing. But with a stroke of luck Bill found an old run-down distillery in Loretto Kentucky. With the threat of Truman shutting down the distilleries (which did not happen) there was enough season-dried barrels at the Independent Stave Company that Bill could begin immediately making and putting away his bourbon.
After Bill Sr. distilled his first barrel he called his family and friends (including the advisory board), grabbed a bucket tossed in his fathers recipe and burned it away forever. And Makers Mark was born.
Makers Mark distinct flavors and smoothness all came from Bill Samuels Sr's relentless curiosity of making bourbon better. They still cook their corn and wheat separately to ensure that the wheat will never be scalded, which is why no pressure cooker. They use one of the only roller mills in existence to ensure proper grinding. These processes take a lot more time than modern methods, but the modern methods do not have the quality either. So the next time you peel off the red wax and taste Makers Mark you will know why it is World Best Bourbon.