Maker’s Mark Rethinks Cutting Alcohol Content

Feb 17, 2013 1:59pm
gty makers mark bourbon thg 111107 wblog Makers Mark Rethinks Cutting Alcohol Content

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Maker’s Mark drew a storm of complaints when the venerable bourbon distiller announced this week it would be diluting its whisky due to anticipated supply shortages, but today it announced it is scrapping the plan.

“While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand — and you told us in large numbers to change our decision,” the company said in a statement released today. “You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”

Effective immediately, the company said, it was reversing its decision to lower the alcohol content of Maker’s Mark, and would resume production at 45 percent alcohol by volume.

“The unanticipated dramatic growth rate of Maker’s Mark is a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages,” said the statement, signed by COO Rob Samuels and chairman emeritus Bill Samuels Jr. “We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.”

The response came after angry Maker’s Mark lovers took to Twitter to complain about the company lowering the alcohol content.

“Hey, @MakersMark Raise prices if you must, but don’t mess with success! Ever heard of New Coke? #bourbon” wrote one Twitter user.

Maker’s Mark had said it was forced to make the decision to decreasing the proof of its whisky from 90 proof to 84 proof because of “unforeseen demand.”  Bill Samuels Jr. had said that the brand wanted to keep its prices competitive.

“While not every part of the country has seen shortages yet, many have, and the demand is continuing to grow at a pace we’ve never before experienced. While we are investing today to expand capacity for the future, by producing 42 percent ABV Maker’s Mark we’ll be able to better meet our ongoing supply issues without compromising the taste,” he said in a statement.

The one-brand company doesn’t purchase bourbon from other distillers, making forecasting difficult.  The age range of the whiskey, five years nine months to seven years, had allowed the brand to keep ahead of market shortages in the past.

The owners said they had tested the watered-down bourbon themselves and validated their own findings with consumer research.  Both agreed that “there’s no difference in the taste,” Samuels said.

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