Sunday, February 17, 2013

Maker's Mark Make the Right Decision!!!!!!!!!!!

In my previous post of this past Friday, February 15th, I lamented the decision of Bill Samuels, Jr. (son of distillery founder), his son, Rob, and Beam Inc., to lower the ABV of Maker's Mark from 45% to 42%.

Well, guess what?  They changed their mind.  Why?  I have copied their letter here from their website:

You spoke. We listened.

Dear Friends,

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.


Rob Samuels                       Bill Samuels, Jr
Chief Operating Officer     Chairman Emeritus

.  .  .  .

It is never easy to admit to someone else you have made a mistake.  It is even more difficult to do so publicly.  Bill and Rob Samuels have done the right thing.  They listened to the consumer and probably to their hearts privately and made the right decision.  They are to be commended.  See!  There are good corporate citizens in the spirits industry and to them I raise a toast!


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2013. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission. Please note the photograph at the top of this post was taken by Flickr member chrisjfry and is published with his permission pursuant to a Creative Commons License.


  1. Think i'll reach for a Maker's Mark tonight... once the tip off is up at the NBA BB Game... Good story - good result.... I gotta wonder if all the press they got out of this going to put even further strain on the available product. Can't hurt to pick up a few extra bottles.

  2. This could all be a cynical but clever marketing ploy (or am I the cynic for even thinking that a corporation would do such a thing?)

    I happen to have some Jim Beam rye on hand. I think I'll toss some into a glass with Diet Coke and ice and salute them anyway.

    1. I somehow doubt this is a marketing ploy. Too many people inside the company would have to be in on such a secret and there would be to great a risk of a leak that would be devastating PR failure. Somebody always talks.

      They made a good call here.

    2. I somehow doubt this **was not** a clever marketing ploy.

    3. I can't see it being a marketing plot for a simple reason: there isn't a play in it. It isn't physically possible for them to sell more whisky. They are at capacity and will be for years. Beam is selling all the Makers Mark they produce already. Sales *can't* go up. There's nothing to gain.

      Plus, corporations do serious dumb crap all the time.

    4. I'm with Dry Heat. I think people under estimate the power of marketing. You mentioned in the last article that the same company simply let Knob Creek go to shortage. Why would they suddenly try a different route with Makers?

      This just makes them look better in the end. They made it appear that they listened to their customers.

    5. Maybe I am naive, but I think they just decided to suddenly reverse their decision.

      Beam Global has lowered ABV on a number bourbons in their portfolio. Maker's Mark, unlike the others, was accompanied by widespread protests on social media to that decision.

      For example, Old Grand-Dad is being lowered from 43% ABV to 40% and no one has said boo. I think it is the wrong decision, but they are going ahead with it, because no one objects, sales will remain steady and profits will go up as they diluting the product somewhat.

      That's my two cents.

      Nice to hear your thoughts!

  3. I agree with Dry heat. This is a master stroke by Beam and the Samuels duo. One can't buy cheaper media energy than this. Sadly transparent, but my hat's off to the owners for the expert manipulation, the genius of the choreography. JK

  4. Jason you have influence, you spoke they listen. Now could you help us with the Harper guy here in Ottawa?

    1. I'll leave that task in the capable hands of Justin Trudeau!

  5. A good thing indeed that will definitely be a standard setter whenever another large distillery tries to make changes. It also shows the time in history we are in. Making large changes are much more difficult with the way media and social networking works today. Though the whole thing (the abv decision and the reversal) has been handled like a giant corporation would, I do appreciate that the public can now actually make more of a difference when they see something going wrong.

    1. Your point about the power of social media is a good one.

      While social media at times can be annoying, it can do great things and this is one of them. I really believe they changed their minds and quickly. I am glad they did, and did not do what the owners of Jack Daniels did, simply ignore the consumer.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Perhaps this calls for an occasion for me to finally sample some MM. Never tried it before...anytime a taste for bourbon struck, I always went with Jim Beam Black, and MM was always painted by reviewers or folks I know to be a thinner, less interesting whisky. Then again, I am not going on personal experience with that value-judgement...and as you've alluded to before, "light" doesn't neccessarily have to mean "boring" or "bad". Cheers, friend, and Blessings to the Debly clan.

    1. Hi Yochanan,

      I would never describe the taste of Maker's Mark as 'thin' as so many critics and others do. I think of this bourbon as very concentrated and refined. Light like a Persian carpet, as opposed to thin like a carpet runner for the household stairs.

      Take care,