Maker’s Mark backs down from plans to dilute bourbon

Marketplace Contributor Feb 18, 2013

The company that owns Maker’s Mark, the brand known for bottles that are hand-sealed with wax, is backing down from a decision to dilute its bourbon.

In order to meet growing demand and prevent supply shortages, the spirits maker announced last week that it would dilute the alcohol content of its bourbon — from 45 percent alcohol to 42 percent.

Though two of the company’s heirs, Rob and Bill Samuels, assured customers the new Maker’s Mark formula would taste the same, loyal fans revolted on social media — and the company took note.

On Sunday, Maker’s Mark bowed to customer complaints and reversed their decision to weaken their bourbon:

“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.”

A win for fans of Maker’s Mark, whose spirits are safe at 90 proof, but be warned if you’re a bourbon drinker: The supply problem is industry-wide.

Michael Veach is the author of “Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage.” He says in  recent years bourbon has been on a roll.

“The problem is that these last 10 years the industry has been growing faster than anyone thought it would,” Veach says.

That is a problem for aged whiskey because the bourbon distilling now won’t be out of the casks for another six years. Beam, Inc., which owns Maker’s, said it had’t anticipated the increase in popularity and didn’t age enough to keep up with current demand.

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