Whisky Advocate

Lew Bryson reports on the recent announcement from Maker’s Mark

February 12th, 2013

News came out over the weekend that Maker’s Mark will be dialing down their bottling proof to 84 proof (42% ABV) from their long-time 45% bottling. (The new Maker’s Mark 46 will not be affected by this change.) In an email sent to their Maker’s Mark Ambassadors consumer group, COO Rob Samuels said that “demand for our bourbon is exceeding our ability to make it, which means we’re running very low on supply.”

The response to that situation is the proof lowering.makersmarkbourbon

We wanted you to be the first to know that, after looking at all possible solutions, we’ve worked carefully to reduce the alcohol by volume (ABV) by just 3%. This will enable us to maintain the same taste profile and increase our limited supply so there is enough Maker’s Mark to go around, while we continue to expand the distillery and increase our production capacity.

We have both tasted it extensively, and it’s completely consistent with the taste profile our founder/dad/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr., created nearly 60 years ago. We’ve also done extensive testing with Maker’s Mark drinkers, and they couldn’t tell a difference.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been done several times recently. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 was reduced to 80 proof from 86 in 2004; there was a huge outcry…and then it all died down and nobody says a thing anymore. Wild Turkey still lists their 101 proof Rye…but it’s getting harder to find, and there’s plenty of the new 81 proof bottling.

At least Maker’s Mark is up-front about the reason. If you lower the proof on a bottling, you get more bottles out of the same amount of barrels. Bourbon comes out of the barrel well above 50% ABV, and is cut to a standard bottling proof by adding water. No secret, no shame: that’s how it’s done, unless you’re getting a barrel-proof whiskey, like Booker’s or George T. Stagg.

But if you lower that bottling proof, you add more water, which adds more volume to your bottling batch, and you can fill more bottles…which are then slightly relabeled and sold — usually — for the same amount. So just by opening the tap a bit more, a distiller gets more production as surely as if they’d kept the same proof and built more warehouses…for the price of water.

This is the way of the world, to some extent, but it brings up questions. We were always told, particularly with Maker’s Mark, that the whiskey was just the way it was supposed to be. Yet now Samuels says dropping the proof 3% changes nothing. Really? What else could then change? Age? A further drop to 80 proof (as Maker’s is now sold in some overseas markets)?

The question that really makes me wonder though, is why didn’t Beam, the parent company, see this coming? Bourbon market expansion is no surprise any more, and Maker’s has been outpacing the market for years, one of the fastest growing brands in the category. It just isn’t believable that they were blindsided…which makes this look more like a planned response.

Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure: the price of a bottle of Maker’s won’t be going down, even though you’re getting less whiskey in it. And that feels like a betrayal, no matter what the reason, no matter what the reassurance is that the taste is “completely consistent.”

85 Responses to “Lew Bryson reports on the recent announcement from Maker’s Mark”

  1. Luke says:

    Oh dear…

    Whilst there is serious pressure on stock, reducing the strength/quality is not the answer.

    This is very, very poor form on Beam’s part.

  2. John Little says:

    At their 2007 volume of 800K cases, they will also save roughly $1.5M in excise taxes. That’s not a ton of money for Beam, but you can bet someone calculated that too.

  3. Jeff says:

    This is a very newsworthy item and very good, and fair, writing. Lew does give credit where it’s due in noting that Maker’s Mark is clear about the reason. But it is strange that, whereas some distillers have increased their strength as a selling point, saying that it gives more flavour, Maker’s Mark claims it can be reduced with no appreciable difference. I take them at their word that this is what they found with their test group, but it can’t be denied that what Lew says is right: you’re now getting less product. And it might fix the problem in an unanticipated way: with the product watered down, demand might drop WELL within current production capacity to supply.

  4. theBitterFig says:

    “It brings up questions. We were always told, particularly with Maker’s Mark, that the whiskey was just the way it was supposed to be.”

    Serves as a reminder that nearly every story distillers tell is about nothing more than marketing. But, after the Potemkin distillery craze, we shouldn’t be surprised at that, should we? Nor at the lack of respect of distillers for their customers when it comes to tweaking formulas and obfuscation *cough* Macallan *cough*.

  5. Mark S says:

    “This will enable us to… increase our limited supply… while we continue to expand the distillery and increase our production capacity.”

    Chances of the distillery putting the proof back to up to 45% after said increased production capacity: 0%

    • Jeff says:

      “As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.” – George Orwell.

  6. Welcome to America in 2013.
    Half-gallons of ice cream are now 1.5 quarts.
    Five-pound bags of sugar are now four-pound bags.
    Twelve-ounce bags of chips are now ten-ounce.
    Some folks are trying to sell twelve-ounce “pounds” of bacon (and not turkey bacon, either).
    Boxes of prophylactics now have ten instead of twelve.
    It sounds like Maker’s Mark is simply joining in the massive “conspiracy” to deceive the public that rampant inflation isn’t hitting our food supplies, by giving us “less” for the same price. It’s the new “American Way,” after all.

    • Tadas A says:

      Sad… and all of them tell us that we should not see the difference 😀
      Interestingly enough I also see that many national brands are lowering quality too. To a level where store brands are higher quality!

    • Larry says:

      I’m not convinced that we’re seeing rampant inflation in commodities. If you follow what any information from regional Federal Reserve banks, you’ll see inflation in a mixed bag of goods is holding at or below 2%. And some folks who were betting big on a spike in commodities prices (and probably helping inflate prices by cornering markets) have lost out quite a bit. The Financial Times reported on commodity funds losing money two years running, which looks really bad in the midst of an equity run up:

      There’s no doubt hot money from the Fed is distorting markets. The housing market is a key example. But shrinking product on the shelf is more likely intended to maintain sales with price conscious consumers. Most people who pick up Maker’s Mark probably don’t think about the cost as it applies to proof. But would they notice that the price went up a few bucks? I think yes. With unemployment high and consumer spending hard to predict, companies are trying to keep profits high without raising prices. This is most certainly the case for Maker’s. After all, if demand really was so high for their product, they could just as easily raise prices and keep the product as is.

      • Alex says:

        Ice cream, chocolate chips, condoms, and whisky are not commodities, so the Fed’s estimates of commodity inflation are not very relevant to the pricing of luxury items unless it’s to debunk an argument from the producers of luxury items that they are being forced to raise their prices due to their commodity costs increasing. While raw material costs and energy costs are increasing, that’s not what’s driving the cost of whisky. Neither is the increase in the cost of labor.

        I think there’s no doubt that the cost of luxuries has increased faster than inflation. It’s not helped by shareholders of public companies demanding that profits increase by 6-10% year-over-year, otherwise the company must be mismanaged. Luxury items are the most price insensitive and are the first to have their prices raised.

        After a while, all the companies can do is release yet another variant and pack less of them in the same-sized bag. What, no Double-Stuf Heads-or-Tails Nutella and Cherry Soda Blast Oreos yet? How’s that any different from MM at 80°, Macallan “Gold”, or the forced rarity of the latest Dalmore or annual LVMH releases?

        • Larry says:

          True enough that finished products are not commodities, but they are made from commodities. I think it’s more about avoiding a sticker price increase while increasing profits in regards to what the Consumerist dubbed the Grocery Store Shrink Ray

          • Alex says:

            I agree, and I believe that was Alexander’s original point about the “conspiracy” and the “new american way”.

            My point was that the price of luxury items are least affected by the cost of commodities–their price is based on intellectual property (e.g., the design of a Ferrari engine), brand image, marketing, etc., not their components. Since the purchasers of luxuries are relatively price insensitive, the producers can raise prices with any excuse or no excuse, and many will pay the new price. In this case, if MM drinkers are loyal enough, or new drinkers are convinced of the value of MM by the marketing, fancy packaging, or whatever else, they will pay the new price. Despite the grumbling of certain consumers, Beam is betting that it will blow over and that the majority of the market won’t notice or care, especially if the brand is growing so fast that the new consumers don’t even know it was ever 90 proof.

    • MrTH says:

      Um…are the prophylactics smaller, too?

  7. Randy Perrelet says:

    The appropriate response to higher demand is higher prices, not lower quality.

    • two-bit cowboy says:

      Hats off to the economist among us!

      We see this philosophy every week in single malt Scotch, and sales don’t seem to have been hurt.

      • Jeff says:

        That’s because, although, with single malt scotch, the situation is actually worse (prices increase AS quality declines – remember, age doesn’t tell the whole story and it’s really all about colour/casking/ABV, but, of course, you’ll still have to pay more for the quality that an age statement does (or doesn’t?) guarantee), there seems to be no consensus that the frog is being boiled.

        • two-bit cowboy says:

          I’d not broadbrush the single malt Scotch industry and accuse it (them?) of giving us poorer quality.

          Burn Stewart took the steps of increasing abv, stopping chill filtering, and bottling at natural color. The first of their whiskies I bought after those changes actually dropped in price and the quality vastly improved compared to their weak, cold filtered, caramel-colored predecessors. I’m seeing price creep now, but it’s been a time in coming and is somewhat consistent with the rest of the marketplace.

          A few that have ratcheted up the quality (and to some extent the price) include Arran and Kilchoman. Obviously this is partly due to their whiskies coming of age.

          • Jeff says:

            “A few that have ratcheted up the quality (and to some extent the price) include Arran and Kilchoman. Obviously this is partly due to their whiskies coming of age.” – great examples, but were their prices in proportion to their quality when these whiskies were still (too?) young? I don’t remember any bargains from Arran or Kilchoman, nor from Glenglassaugh, which thinks a 3 year old is worth $55. The Revival rates an 82 here, while Talisker 10 is a 90 and costs $5 less. So, yes, I do think there’s a trend toward lower quality at higher prices.

            Burn Stewart has done some very good things, admittedly, but I would argue that the entire NAS trend is about merchandising whisky previously believed, and certainly not always without reason, to be unsellable, while making age-statement expressions into a de facto “premium class” for which you are now going to pay more and more, even as there are more frequent reports of quality “slippage” among these older expressions. The rejection of age as a major contributor to quality (but, hypocritically, not price) is nothing but a marketing gimmick to allow producers quicker turn-over and more profit. If people think I’m out to lunch on this, so be it, but I do appreciate the reply and the level of debate.

          • two-bit cowboy says:

            “… I do appreciate the reply and the level of debate.” Ditto.

            I’ll say this about your price quotes: you pay less where you live! 🙂

            Ever since Kilchoman’s first 3-year-old release I’ve read folks’ thoughts about the high price of too-young whisky. I might be the only guy who thinks this (probably not), but I’ll pay the price for several reasons. First, I can’t begin to grasp the inflow of cash it takes to start up a distillery and attempt to get some return on investment (in the first three years) by selling hats and t-shirts. If nobody paid the price for the too-young whisky we’d never get to taste it at age 12, and in most cases I would have missed out on something really special.

            Second, I’m enamored by the guy who thinks he can. The dreamer’s commitment of hope and time and, lastly, money yanks at my heartstrings. I want to be a part of helping him reach his dream. He’s not ask me to take out a second mortgage so I can afford a bottle of his whisky. He’s ask for a little more than the distillery that–for decades–has churned out the same, tried and true (read: boring) 10 or 12 year old whisky. The difference in price between a young and a 10 year old whisky is rarely more than I’d tip a waiter or waitress who offered fabulous service at a nice restaurant. Value is perception, not at all a quantifiable thing.

            Ah, Revival’s 82 vs. Talisker 10’s 90. The ratings (and rating systems in general) are meaningless. I like Glenglassaugh Revival after a meal or with a bit of chocolate. Talisker 10 doesn’t do it for me in either setting. After a long, arduous clime up a hill that puts me at 8,000′ and lets me see 100 miles in every direction Talisker 10 out of a flask is hard to beat. Not a scene for Revival. Time, place, mood, and a gazillion other factors mean so much more than a subjective number issued by a person who might have tastes nothing like my own.

          • Jeff says:

            You do paint a picture with words (and I mean that sincerely). I’m not sure that your model of supporting the lone, plucky, struggling, independent distiller always holds up (if he doesn’t already have major investors and a long-term business plan, he can’t be saved), but don’t get me wrong, I’d be more than willing to pay a fair price for young whisky – the problem is finding a distillery that asks only a fair price. I just won’t pay more for the underdog romance that you read into the situation, but which I can’t confirm.

            I agree that, as my buddy says, “all malts have their time and place”, and that it’s demonstrated again and again that setting, subjective as it may be, trumps objective scoring. On the other hand, if “ratings (and rating systems in general) are meaningless”, there’s no way to assess quality, much less compare it, except on a personal level, and so no way to prove my point to your satisfaction. For you, there can be no general industry trending (and so nothing to prove about it), as everything must be experienced firsthand by your tastes to have any reality (which is only an interpretation/observation on my part, not offered as criticism). So, I think we’re at an impasse.

            As for the prices, I just used the site’s own quotes but, checking online, I still found them very “ballpark”.

            Cheers and take care!

          • two-bit cowboy says:

            You picked out my “first-hand experience” thinking perfectly! 🙂

            And I sincerely “feel sorry” for folks who miss out on a bunch of really good–and for the most part, inexpensive–whiskies if they won’t try one because somebody they trust rated it an 82. One of the 25 whiskies in my Top 5 of all time is one that consistently gets rated 75 or below by most “authorities.”

            I didn’t intend to paint the “I feel sorry for the downtrodden distillery owner” picture though. I simply love to support passionate, dream-driven small businesses (any type, not just whisky distilleries).

            This has been a fun exchange.



          • Jeff says:

            One of the 25 whiskies in my Top 5 of all time is one that consistently gets rated 75 or below by most “authorities.” – What is it and how did you come upon it?

          • two-bit cowboy says:

            Hi Jeff. Something about the lack of marketing hyperbole attracted me. Edradour 10. As it’s “aged” over the last 5 years, with each successive bottling I notice more sherry cask influence and a cleaner, much more refined whisky.(I’ve never experienced the soapiness some associate with the distillery) I simply love the stuff, and since we’re likely now being offered the whisky distilled after Andrew Symington bought the distillery I think we’ll get what I consider this “optimum profile” for a good long time. And I’ll make a point related to our earlier exchange: the price hasn’t gone up, but the quality has! 🙂

            With several distilleries coming on line recently it’s likely Edradour will lose its “smallest” distinguish-er, but no matter as long as it doesn’t alter what it’s doing.


          • Danny Maguire says:

            Age is not the sole determining factor in the quality of a whisky. The type of cask, its age as in how often it’s been used before, its size and where it’s been in the warehouse, even the type of warehouse, all have an influence. Some people even say what time of year it was made is important.

          • Jeff says:

            Oh, absolutely, and I never said age was the sole determining factor for quality. I’d just like the industry to make up its mind just how important it is in terms of pricing. On one hand, I’m supposed to pay $55 for something aged 3 years, because age doesn’t really matter, while on the other hand, I’m always supposed to pay more for an 18 than for a 15 than for a 12 because of the overall relative quality age is supposed to, and usually does, imply. To really demonstrate to me how unimportant age is, the industry will have to give me a Macallan 18 for the price of a 12 (if the all-important colours are comparable).

            And while my main point here is about the industry doublethink on this issue, which catches the customer both coming and going, I do believe that age is of fundamental importance to quality. As I’ve written elsewhere “it’s difficult to argue the relative importance of source water, barley, peating, cask type selection, and maturation environment without giving at least some important consideration as to how long these factors have to make their effects felt and/or interact with each other.” This has always been understood to be a time-sensitive, if not time-dependent, process. While more age in and of itself might not guarantee superior whisky, both under and over-aging are serious concerns, and I would argue that under-aging is the far more common flaw found today.

      • Randy Perrelet says:

        In the world single malt Scotch, some producers are offering higher prices and lower quality! (Maybe “offering” isn’t the right word.) I find it disingenuous that Maker’s claims to be running out of whisky while selling 1.75 liter jugs of the stuff to Costco.

  8. Jamie Wika says:

    This is absurd. Who do they think they are kidding? 46 is better anyway, and this is probably why they have less to go around.

  9. Kevin Creasy says:

    People need to realize it’s not as simple as making more white dog – you have to increase distillation capacity, fermentation capacity, and storage capacity all in relation to eachother. If they could pump out more juice today, you wouldnt see an increase in circulation for another 5 and 3/4 to 6 years.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      I’m sure people here, for sure, understand that. What they don’t understand — what I don’t understand — is why brand managers of a whisky growing as steadily and as fast as Maker’s Mark (and they’ve been growing fast for a long time) could get caught this short. We all know that forecasting in the bourbon biz (and even more so in rye!) is iffy at best, but Maker’s growth curve has been one of the most predictable in the category. As I said above: “It just isn’t believable that they were blindsided…which makes this look more like a planned response.”

      • Jeff says:

        Yes, pretty “fortunate” that the chokepoints weren’t in water supply, bottling or distribution. Who knows what might have happened!

      • David G. says:

        Do you think the introduction of 46 reduced their inventory? Or did the demand/success of 46 have any impact on their shortfall?

      • Chris says:

        Makers DID know about this. Several years ago, before Beam even bought them, they were planning to add a third distillation facility, increasing capacity by 50%. Since then, nothing has been done about it. I would imagine this is because Beam found it more profitable to stay the course.
        As for Makers saying that the flavor hasn’t been affected at all, I’m not sure what else they could say. Can you imagine the outcry if they admitted the quality was suffering? They have to say the taste is the same, whether it is or not. It’s certainly possible that the taste hasn’t changed noticeably, especially given the very mild taste profile they have as it is. I’m just glad that I’m not big on Makers anyway, so this won’t really affect me.

    • thebitterfig says:

      Chuck Cowdery has a pretty decent post on this. Maker’s was the fastest growing bourbon in 2006-2007, and plans for a 3rd distillery were in the works for Allied Domeq, when Beam bought them out. All the facts were there for expansion six years ago.

  10. David G. says:

    I’ve heard that this will enable them to sell Maker’s Mark in some states’ retail outlets (like supermarkets and 7-11s) where the ABV can’t be above 42% ABV. Anyone know anything about this?

    • Lew Bryson says:

      Not aware of any such limitations, David, but…in the thicket of state regs, anything’s possible. But they pretty much said this was not a factor, and said that export markets (where 80 proof is much more standard) were not a factor in the decision.

    • thebitterfig says:

      I know Ohio bans sales over 42 proof (21% abv) in grocery and convenience stores… Not that Maker’s is taking THAT much of a hit to proof.

  11. Rush says:

    Love Maker’s Mark like I do? Well help me save the bourbon whisky that we all know and love and that Bill Samuels, Sr. crafted to perfection not to be messed with! Check out my new page

  12. JayMonster says:

    Beam did the same previously with Jim Beam Black. (Hell, they did it with Jim Beam White as well… but that was a longer time ago).

    Is it really a “coincidence” that this occurs right after the Beam earning call where they explain that they are expecting a “high single digit” improvement in earnings with out an increase in price? I don’t believe in coincidences.

    As was correctly pointed out, MM has been growing… well.. for many years. Even the “boom” of the Bourbon industry is no longer new. And since MM is only aged 5-1/2 to 6 years, they should have ramped up and been caught up by now… If that was really the case.

    This is a pure profit play. And as such, I do not think MM was so much “up front” with drinkers as it was “front running” the complaining with a pre-built excuse.

  13. Jamie Wika says:

    46 is made from regular MM with addition of French Oak staves for additional 2 months, so yes it does have some impact.

  14. Brett VanderKamp says:

    We may never know the real reason, but I suspect there are short term earnings pressures that can now be solved without a price increase.

  15. Mark S says:

    Basically, what Marker’s Mark is saying is: “Thanks to our loyal and growing customer base we can now lessen the quality of our product while increasing margins. Thanks.”

  16. Jamie Wika says:

    Is this what Van Winkle does? Can’t find that stuff anywhere now, I guess they better water down too.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      Jamie, I assume you’re kidding… Van Winkle’s always been in fairly short supply, and that’s working well for them (not for us, but for them!). Maker’s isn’t sold on exclusivity. Buffalo Trace’s standard bottling is in a similar situation: great standard bourbon, a little bit of a price premium, but they have taken the stand that they’d rather hold back on sales volume until they have enough supply to expand, rather than change the whiskey or price it out of reach of the every day drinker. Two different business models. No comment on my preference.

  17. lawschooldrunk says:

    I haven’t purchased or tasted jack daniels since they lowered their abv from 43% to 40%. I will now do the same with makers mark. Congratulations on joining the club.

    • H.Diaz says:

      The same here. I haven’t reached for Jack Daniels since they lowered their abv. Not so much because of the drop in abv, which was lame, but I’m not a fan of their charcoal finishing/mellowing business. It didn’t taste right, from what I long ago remeber. How they’re number one beats me. For now, I’ll give MM the benefit of the doubt and see for myself. But euqally lame move, MM.

    • sam k says:

      I remember when the iconic black-and-white photo print ads for Jack Daniel’s proudly stated “90 proof by choice.”

      Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    • Danny Maguire says:

      Only ever tried J.D.Old No7 once, it was rough.

  18. Louis says:

    It’ll make shopping easier, one less item to consider.

  19. Joe says:

    Want to drink honest wheated Bourbon? Buy W.L. Weller, the ORIGINAL wheated Bourbon. The 90-pf and the 107-pf are both less-expensive than Maker’s Mark!

    Beam Global handled the Knob Creek shortage very deftly, and without compromising the product; how could they screw up the MM situation so badly?

    They may save millions of dollars in federal excise taxes on ABV but what will this cost them in consumer loyalty and good will?

  20. two-bit cowboy says:

    Seems as though Chivas Brothers had made a similar change (without the fanfare).

    Strathisla 12 has a new bottle (awfully Aberlour-like), label, and abv (in the UK anyway). Down to 40%.

  21. two-bit cowboy says:

    Wyoming’s only spirits wholesaler, the Wyoming Liquor Division, has been out of stock on Maker’s Mark for some time. The shipment they received this week is 84 proof.

  22. Randy Perrelet says:

    David Driscoll has a few choice words on this topic:

  23. politicalidiot says:

    Big mistake reducing ABV. It is a VERY poor idea to reduce quality which is effectively what they have decided to do. They would have been MUCH better off raising the price. In time, they will come to regret this decision.

    • two-bit cowboy says:

      I’m not sure I agree that they’ll regret their decision.

      By now nearly every blog/forum has lit up with the news (and the resulting geeky commentary). But are the folks who buy the majority of Maker’s Mark the same ones who live on these out-of-this-world whisky places? I don’t think so. Granted, you’d have needed to be in a comma this week not to hear the news, but does the average Joe really care?

      I don’t appreciate their decision, and I agree with you. They should have raised the price and let the market decide. But will it really hurt Maker’s or Beam? I think the jury’s out….

      • Jeff says:

        Yes, Maker’s will lose the geeks and the purists, but it would probably rather lose them now anyway, rather than deal with the constant complaints that “things aren’t like they used to be.” They’ve simply made the decision to debase their product to make more money and they’ll live with both parts of that equation. Forget talk about legacy, high standards or dedication to quality and count the greenbacks. I won’t be replacing my bottle on principle – there are LOTS of other things to try – but it is too bad. I agree, though, whether they will “regret” it is very debateable. New drinkers won’t know or care, so if Maker’s can, evidently, swallow the regret of wrecking its history for profit, the only real question is whether the profit materializes.

        And thanks for the note about Edradour, Bob, (I couldn’t reply higher for some reason). I’ll keep an eye out for it.



  24. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the note, Jamie. Checking the numbers, Edradour 10 HAS been on a steady climb out of the basement in the last decade, and I’ll certainly give it try when I get a chance. Speaking of spicy 10s, I tried the Nikka “Yoichi” again recently and it’s very good – my mini has sold me on getting a big one and/or trying other Nikkas. The Deanston Virgin Oak is probably my underdog whisky in terms of the quality I find vs. very modest ratings from the pros. – excellent wood finish, but you have to wait it out (40-50 mins.) which is a lot longer than most people are willing to linger over anything less than 10.

    Funny enough, there’s a review on YouTube dealing with both Edradour and Deanston. Check it out: Boozerevooze Episode #48 Deanston Virgin Oak & Edradour 10yr. Maybe not the most analytical reviews I’ve seen, but a lot of fun.



  25. The addition of water will also mean the bourbon will contain almost 7% less alcohol, making it an 84-proof whiskey instead of the 90 proof it’s been bottled at since the distillery began selling its bourbon in 1959.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      Actually, that’s 3%; 6 degrees proof. But…it’s all moot now.

      • Alex says:

        I believe the original poster meant that, as a percentage of the alcohol, it’s 6.5% less. So it’s the equivalent of a 6.5% price increase, even though the alcohol only dropped by 3 percentage points (those 3 percentage points are 6.5% of 45%).

  26. Chris says:

    Maker’s Mark has just announced that they are killing the ABV reduction due to consumer feedback. 90 proof is back.

  27. politicalidiot says:

    Looks like the people who make decisions at Makers Mark changed their mind this morning. Bottling will remain at 45%. They received thousands of complaint calls. Seems like fans of that whiskey didn’t want lower quality.

  28. Randy Perrelet says:

    The email that was sent out last night from Rob Samuels was entitled, “You spoke. We listened.” It says, in part, that they are resuming production of 45% abv. So the question is, if the new stuff has shipped (according to two-bit cowboy it has), is it going to be sold or returned?

    • Jamie Wika says:

      What do you do with the cases of Maker’s Mark you produced at the lower proof?

      Rob Samuels: It’s just a small amount of cases and we think that those cases, given the curiosity, given the conversation that we’ve heard, I think it’s likely that some of those bottles will end up being collector’s items for consumers.

      Bill Samuels: Certainly one case of it is, because as soon as we get done with this here, I’m going straight to the liquor store and buying a case for myself.

      Rob Samuels: It’s just a really limited amount.

    • Danny Maguire says:

      Depends on the retailer, if they’ve bought it they can’t be made to return it.

  29. Jeff says:

    Makers has been one of a few select bourbon staples on my bar since the early 1990’s. My reaction to this news is very plain and simple. I will not buy the watered down Makers whiskey while my other favorites continue to maintain their current proof.

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