Sunday, February 17, 2013

Update: Maker's Mark restoring alcohol level

Update: Responding to nearly universal backlash, the distillers of Maker's Mark bourbon have rescinded a decision to lower the alcohol content of their prime whiskey. CEO Rob Samuels today announced the alcohol level is being restored to 45% (90 proof) instead of going through with a reduction to 42% because of what it said was a supply shortage. "We've been tremendously humbled over the last week or so [by consumer reaction]," said Samuels, a grandson of the brand's founder. "We got it totally wrong."

[Originaly published February 12, 2013]

Maker's Mark, the premium bourbon with the iconic red wax seal, has reduced the alcohol level of its product from 45% to 42% -- i.e., from 90 proof to 84 proof.

That notification comes in a letter from Rob Samuels, chief operating officer, who says the decision was made because "demand for our bourbon is exceeding our ability to make it, which means we're running very low on supply."

Samuels, who succeeded his father, Bill, as COO in 2011, said the brand's growth over the last 18-24 months has been "significantly greater than we had ever experienced as a brand." He said sales of Maker's to consumers grew about 18% last year.

Bill Samuels said Monday on the company's website that he and his son never considered raising the price of the bourbon even in the face of greater demand.

"We don't want to price Maker's Mark out of reach," he wrote.

What about dropping the price now that the alcohol level has been lowered?

"The value of Maker's Mark isn't set by alcohol volume," Bill Samuels wrote.

Maker's Mark, which is distilled in Loretto, KY, made no mention of changes in its Maker's 46, a more expensive 94-proof offshoot of the main brand that is aged longer inside barrels containing seared French oak staves after the aging in new charred American white oak barrels as required by law to be a true bourbon.

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  1. Peter Brown writes:

    Well that should eliminate the excess demand. What a self serving and hypocritical act.

  2. Carlo DeVito writes:

    It’s a crap move.

  3. Not so perfect parent writes:

    So smooth.