Maker’s Mark defends watering down its bourbon


Your next glass of Maker’s Mark will be a little less potent, and the son of the man who founded the famous Kentucky bourbon says it’s all his fault.

In an interview Monday, Bill Samuels Jr. said he failed to foresee a worldwide surge in demand for premium bourbon when he was still in charge of the brand about six years ago. As a result, Maker’s Mark is being diluted to 42 percent alcohol by volume, from 45 percent, so more of the whiskey can be bottled to meet demand. That’s a cut from 90 proof to 84 proof.

via Maker’s Mark defends watering down its bourbon.

They’ve also decided to market it under the name “New Coke.”

When you have a successful brand in a highly competitive market, especially one that is built more on goodwill than any other feature, you tamper with your product at your own risk.

Really, how many of us can tell Makers Mark from Jack Daniels in a blind taste test? I’m sure many of you can. But I surely can’t.

Maker’s Mark could have easily addressed the shortage by slightly raising prices. Their cash flow would have been the same as increased sales, and they would have maintained the cachet and tradition of the brand. This is a foolish decision, and one no marketer should ever make.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Maker’s Mark defends watering down its bourbon

  1. MikeD

    Concur. The idea of “oh, you like our product so much that we can’t meet demand? Well, we better make it worse then” is pretty dumb. To deal with more demand than you can handle, raise prices. If you still sell out? Raise prices. Demand drops so you’re no longer selling out? Maybe lower prices again. But don’t even allow the public to THINK you’re reducing quality. Because then you lose market and don’t have a lot of opportunity to fix it.

    Oh and for the record, Brad… no, I can’t tell the difference in a blind taste test either.

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  2. Gromulin

    Jack Daniels did the same thing a few years ago. Since I found Rye to be everything I liked about bourbon, without the nasty aftertaste, I switched. And, after watching Moonshiners, and trying some 125 proof ‘shine, I realized it’s the same as REAL schnapps. Not the liqueur we have here, but the stuff you can get in little bottles at 6AM at the train station in Berlin.

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  3. Time to learn how to distill …. ummm… water.

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