Perhaps it’s that guy who always shows up with a bottle of Maker’s Mark instead of a six-pack, or maybe you’ve got a stockpile of the stuff in your basement where the wife can’t see, but because so many people want bourbon, it’s getting harder to supply the liquid to drinkers of the stuff. To remedy the problem of lacking supplies to meet high demand, the makers of Maker’s Mark (say that three times fast) are reducing its alcohol by volume three percentage points.
WFPL in Louisville knew something sobering was going on, and procured an explanation from company executives to anyone who calls themselves a Maker’s Mark Ambassadors. Clearly, they are the folks who spread the good word about the tastiness of bourbon.
In an email to WFPL, the execs say they have to cut the ABV because they just don’t have enough bourbon to sell to everyone. The company is expanding the distillery but it’s unclear if the ABV will tick back up to 45% after this drop to 42% when the expansion is complete.
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.
In the message the execs say they aren’t changing the way Maker’s Mark is made or its ingredients. We’re sure there will still be those customers who claim they can detect a difference, which is how it goes when any beloved product introduces a change. We like what we like how we like it, right?
UPDATE: Consumerist reader Rob has a different theory for why Maker’s Mark is changing its ABV, and it does sound viable at first:
I can’t help but suspect that the Maker’s Mark change has more to do with them getting into grocery stores, in some states, than the convoluted explanation they came up with. I know for a fact that in Ohio, beverages with an alcohol content over 42% must be sold at the state liquor stores and 42% or less allows alcohol to be sold in grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. I’ve heard this is true of other states as well.
I can’t imagine Maker’s Mark saying, ‘We’re doing this so we can be sold in Wal-Marts!’ I remember when Jack Daniels did percentage shenanigans just to squeak their black label into 42%.
It would sense — the more stores that carry your product, the more potential for increased sales. However another reader notes that the Ohio law refers to 42 proof, not percent. So Maker’s still won’t be sold in those places.