Both Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels are incredibly popular whiskies for good reason. They’re both storied distilleries with a long history, proven products, and affordable price points. As such, it makes sense Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels is a popular comparison. Is one better than the other? How are they made? What are the differences in taste, distilling, price, and more? In this guide, we compare Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels, answer all of these questions, and dive into even more helpful and interesting info.
*Our primary focus in this article is the standard Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey vs standard Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee whiskey. We may reference other products such as Maker’s 46 or Gentleman Jack, but they are not the main comparison in this article.
The History of Jack & Maker’s
The two companies have deep roots in the American whiskey and distillery areas. Much of this topic doesn’t affect the end comparison of Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels. However, it’s not a true comparison without some interesting history and details. After all, many whiskies become popular thanks to their deep roots and heritage in the industry.
Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey History
Maker’s Mark was officially started in 1953 by Bill Samuels, Sr. and Margie Samuels when they purchased the Burk’s Distillery. After experimenting with different recipes, production of Maker’s Mark began in 1954. The first run was bottled in 1958 and Margie Samuels had a big impact on the branding and design. Margie is actually the first woman inducted in the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
The distillery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980. It’s the first American distillery ever recognized while landmark buildings were still in production. Maker’s has since been through a number of ownership changes and is now owned by Beam Suntory – the third largest produced of distilled beverages worldwide.
Despite the changes, Bill Samuels son (Bill Samuels, Jr) oversaw production until 2011 when his son Rob took over. The Maker’s Mark product remains unchanged, but a few new products like Maker’s 46 have come around.
There’s a lot more interesting history and details on Maker’s Mark, too. They might not be as old as some other American distilleries – like Jack Daniels – but Maker’s Mark has certainly made their stamp in American distillery history.
Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey History
As with Maker’s, there is simply too much history to cover everything with Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey. Jasper Newton Daniel, known as Jack, officially established the Jack Daniel distillery in 1866. He learned the art of whiskey making from an enslaved man by the name of Nathan “Nearest” Green. Jack later made Nearest the Master Distiller and he is the first African-American master distiller on record.
In 1904, Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee whiskey wins the first of seven gold medals at the World’s Fair. Jack eventually died in 1911 after complications from a broken toe that occurred in 1906, according to Jack Daniels website. However, other reports suggest he died from unrelated health issues. Nonetheless, in 1907 Jack left his land and distillery to his nephew, Lem Motlow.
As such an old distillery Jack Daniels went through a number of troubling times. First, prohibition from 1919 to 1933. That took a toll for years after prohibition ended due to supply issues. Then there were the struggles through WWII. It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 1970’s that Jack Daniels turned into an American icon.
Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels Differences
The primary differences of Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels whiskies are:
- Maker’s Mark is a bourbon whiskey
- Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey
- Maker’s Mark is 45% ABV (90 proof)
- Jack Daniels is 40% ABV (80 proof)
- Maker’s is still hand-made
- Jack is machine-produced
- Maker’s Mark is aged for about 6-7 years
- Jack Daniels is aged for roughly 4-7 years
Of course, the exact process of how the whiskies are made varies quite a bit. We won’t dive into too many specifics there as it’s a lengthy topic to cover. Anyways, the above list is some of the notable differences of Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels whiskey. Let’s break this down a bit below.
Kentucky Bourbon vs Tennessee Whiskey
Kentucky whiskies are often known as bourbon whiskey. They’re made from a mash that contains no less than 51% corn. It’s a sweeter grain and often adds a much sweeter note and flavor. Most bourbons are aged for at least 4 years in new oak barrels, as is the case with Maker’s Mark.
Tennessee whiskey is actually recognized by US law as its own type of alcohol. It must be a straight-bourbon whiskey, but a specific process sets Tennessee whiskey apart from bourbon. It goes through a process known as the Lincoln County Process. This is named after Lincoln County, Tennessee – the location of Jack Daniels distillery at the time of its introduction.
Anyways, the Lincoln County Process involves steeping (filtering) the whiskey through charcoal chips. Jack Daniels makes crafts their own charcoal by means of a 2,000 degree fire. The whiskey is then slowly dripped through 10 feet of this hard sugar maple charcoal.
Jack Daniels vs Maker’s Mark Aging Process
These two whiskies are both aged to taste rather than aged to a specific date or timeframe. Meaning, both Jack Daniels and Maker’s Mark taste and test every barrel of whiskey. As such, this is really more a similarity than it is a difference. The exact aging time does vary, though.
Maker’s Mark is typically aged for about 6-7 years while Jack Daniels is believed to be 4-7 years. Aging to taste ensures a consistent, quality product every time. This sets them apart from many other distilleries who age to date, which doesn’t always create a consistent product. Consistency and quality are likely two major factors as to why Maker’s and Jack are such well known whiskies.
Jack vs Maker’s Taste
This is probably the information most are looking for when comparing Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels. We now know a little about the history of Jack vs Maker’s and how they’re made. It’s time to discuss the taste, aroma, and finishes of Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Jack Daniels Tasting Notes
Below are some tasting notes for Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey:
Aroma – Smooth, Woody, Fruity Hints
Taste – Caramel, Vanilla, Oak, Fruit
Finish – Sweet & Toasty Oak
Maker’s Mark Tasting Notes
First, let’s look at the tasting notes for Maker’s Mark and then do some further analysis and discussion:
Aroma – Woody Oak, Caramel, Vanilla, and Wheat
Taste – Sweet & Balanced. Fruity, Caramel, and Vanilla
Finish – Smooth & Subtle
Summary of Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels Taste
Typically, a Tennessee whiskey comes off a bit sweeter than bourbon whiskey. A large part of this is due to the Lincoln County Process while using sweet charcoal. As is the case with Jack Daniels and their sugar maple charcoal steeping. However, Maker’s also has a sweet flavor thanks to use of red winter wheat instead of the usual rye.
Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels both have notes of caramel and fruit. We think the oak notes are a bit stronger with Jack Daniels, but some may pick up the oak flavor in Maker’s too.
Ultimately, both whiskies offer similar aromas, taste, and finish. They’re a bit different in the way they go about it, and they each certainly have their own unique tastes. Not everyone has the same sense of taste, so some may pick up stronger or weaker notes from either whiskey.
Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels – Which Is Better?
There is no perfect answer as to whether Maker’s Mark or Jack Daniels is better. It’s a subjective topic that comes down to personal preference. Much of it likely comes down to how you intend to enjoy the whiskey, too. Are you making basic mixed drinks like whiskey and coke, cocktails, or looking for something to sip neat or on the rocks?
Our personal opinion on the better whiskey changes based on that. We’ll take Jack Daniels for a classic Jack & Coke. However, we prefer the taste of Maker’s Mark for most cocktails and believe it’s the better whiskey on the rocks. Some will have totally different opinions on which is better and that’s OK.
What’s important is to try a few different things with each whiskey and form your own opinions. Try them both on the rocks, make some basic mixed drinks, and try some fancier cocktails with each. Below are some ideas and popular options to drink Maker’s Mark & Jack Daniels.
Best Maker’s Mark Cocktails
Maker’s is a versatile whiskey with tons of different options. It’s a quality, smooth mid-range whiskey that mixes well for many basic mixed drinks and cocktails. Of course, best Maker’s Mark cocktails is subjective and you may have some personal favorites. Next time, try it with Maker’s and see how it works out. Otherwise, here are a few popular cocktail recommendations to try with this bourbon whiskey.
1. Maker’s Mark & Coke
This may not be a true cocktail, but we can’t skip over Maker’s & Coke. Whiskey and coke is one of the most popular mixed drinks for good reason. It tastes good and it’s incredibly easy to make. Start with 1.5oz of Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey and about 3-4oz of Coca Cola or Pepsi. Adjust the ratio to your personal preferences.
Try this alongside a Jack & Coke and see if you have a preference. Depending on the ratio of whiskey to coke you may only notice a small difference in taste – if any at all.
2. Maker’s Mark Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is one of the most popular whiskey cocktails. It’s not uncommon to see this drink made with higher-end whiskies. However, Maker’s Mark also makes an excellent Old Fashioned at mid-shelf prices.
Check out some various recipes. An Old Fashioned usually calls for 1.5oz of bourbon, 1 teaspoon sugar, bitters, 1 orange slice, 1 cherry, and a small splash of water.
3. Whiskey Sour With Maker’s Mark
A whiskey sour is another common whiskey cocktail that goes well with Maker’s Mark. Try 1.5-2oz of Maker’s bourbon with 0.5oz simple syrup, lemon juice, and a lemon peel and cherry garnish.
Best Jack Daniels Cocktails
We personally think of Jack Daniels as more of a simple mixed drink whiskey. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Jack Daniels in a cocktail, too. Below are some common cocktail options to enjoy with Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey.
1. Lynchburg Lemonade
Given Jack Daniels is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee this lemonade cocktail is synonymous with Jack Daniels. It’s a pretty simple drink that’s tough to mess up if you have the right ingredients.
Try making a Lynchburg Lemonade with 1.5oz of Jack Daniels, 1oz triple sec, 1oz lemon juice, and 4oz of lemon-lime soda. Add lemon slices as garnish.
2. Jack Daniels Tennessee Mule
Mules aren’t just limited to Vodka. Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey can also turn out an excellent mule. This is also a pretty simple cocktail with a few easy ingredients.
Start with 1.5-2oz of Jack Daniels whiskey, add some ginger beer, and a little squeeze of lime. Careful with the ginger beer as it’s strong taste is overpowering if you use too much.
Jack Daniels vs Maker’s Price
When it comes to price Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels are pretty close. However, the slight edge goes to Jack Daniels as it’s generally about $3-5 less expensive. Standard price ranges for Jack and Maker’s are as follows:
- 750ml Jack: $20-23
- 750ml Maker’s: $23-26
- 1.75L Jack: $34-40
- 1.75L Maker’s: $38-45
Of course, exact prices can vary a lot based on location and the specific liquor store. Jack may be more expensive than Maker’s Mark from another store down the street. However, if you compare prices at the same liquor store you’ll generally find Maker’s to be about $2-4 more expensive for a 750ml bottle. A full 1.75L handle is likely to be roughly $4-5 more expensive.
Ultimately, Jack Daniels vs Maker’s Mark are close enough in price that it shouldn’t be a major deciding factor. It’s understandable if it is a big factor for you, though.
When Does Price Difference Matter?
Again, it’s a subjective topic so take this with a grain of salt. However, we find ourselves buying Jack Daniels more often than Maker’s Mark since the price difference can add up in the long-run. We like keeping Jack around for basic mixed drinks, like whiskey & coke. Some may not mind spending the extra money every trip to the liquor store, but it does add up if you find yourself buying Jack or Maker’s often.
That said, Maker’s isn’t much more expensive so if you prefer the taste it may be the better bargain. In our opinion, Maker’s is more versatile with cocktails and we prefer the taste of Maker’s on the rocks to that of Jack Daniels. It makes for a great whiskey given the price. Cheap enough to not feel guilty mixing drinks like whiskey & coke, but good enough for higher-end cocktails and on the rocks.
Maker’s vs Jack Summary
Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels whiskey is an interesting comparison for many reasons. Both companies have deep roots in American whiskey distilling. They’ve each made their mark on history and produce quality, consistent mid-shelf whiskies.
The major difference is that Maker’s is bourbon whiskey while Jack is Tennessee whiskey. Despite some differences they both end up with what we consider similar whiskies. Both offer some fruity, vanilla, oak, and caramel palates and a smooth finish. They each deliver the aromas and notes in their own unique way, though.
There isn’t a perfect answer as to whether Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels is better. Here at Barrel & Brew, we like Jack Daniels for its lower price point and simple drinks like Jack & Coke or Lynchburg Lemonade. We find Maker’s to be the smoother and superior option for fancier cocktails or sipping on the rocks. It offers a lot of versatility at a price-point we also don’t feel guilty making drinks like whiskey & coke.
Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels FAQ
Below are some common questions regarding Maker’s Mark vs Jack Daniels whiskies. Some of this information was already covered in the bulk of the article above.
Is Maker’s Mark A Good Bourbon?
Yes, we believe Maker’s Mark is a good bourbon. It’s a subjective topic, of course. Maker’s Mark is also a mid-shelf bourbon, so there are more expensive and higher quality options out there. Maker’s is a popular bourbon for many reasons, though. It delivers a good flavor at a fair price, it’s easy to find, and it’s very versatile. Try it on the rocks, in a cocktail, or with simple mixed drinks like whiskey & coke. Ultimately, we believe Maker’s Mark is a good bourbon, especially considering the price?
Is Maker’s Mark Better Than Jack Daniels?
This comes down to each persons palate and preferences. We tend to agree that Maker’s Mark is better than Jack Daniels, but it largely depends on the situation. If you’re looking to make whiskey & coke we think Jack is the better option to save some money. However, we believe Maker’s Mark is better than Jack Daniels on the rocks or with fancier cocktails.
What Is The Price Difference of Maker’s & Jack?
Prices for Jack Daniels vs Maker’s Mark can vary a lot depending on location and specific liquor stores. Generally, Maker’s Mark is about $2-4 more expensive than Jack Daniels for a 750ml bottle. A 1.75L handle may be about $4-6 more expensive. They’re both well priced mid-shelf whiskies.