Maker’s Mark to keep bourbon 90 proof



Power to the people! Only days after announcing that they would reduce the ABV of their bourbon to 42%, Maker’s Mark has reversed course and vowed to keep their bourbon at 45% ABV. Who says complaining on the internet doesn’t get you anywhere? This is vindication for all of your nonsensical blathering.

It appears as though the price won’t change, and we will just have to accept periodic shortages of the spirit. I can live with that. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight price bump, which would just make sense economically speaking. The tricky part for them is that the spirit is aged for six years. That means they can expand their capacity all they want, but it won’t impact the supply until years down the road. In the meantime, this will likely help build brand loyalty.

Here’s the decision straight from the horse’s mouth:

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.

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. We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.

Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.

We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created. Same recipe. Same production process. Same product.

As always, we will continue to let you know first about developments at the distillery. In the meantime please keep telling us what’s on your mind and come down and visit us at the distillery. It means a lot to us.

There are some who think this whole thing was a PR stunt, but I don’t know that I buy that explanation. The publicity has been great, but if the problem is supply, building a bigger consumer base doesn’t do much for them. I’m not sure if this makes it easier to justify an eventual price increase, or if the debacle puts them on thin ice with their fans.

For an exclusive interview with Rob and Bill Samuels, Jr., you can read it on Drink Spirits.