This story and interview was reported at drinkspirits.com
Last week Maker’s Mark made the surprising announcement that they were going to reduce the alcohol level in Maker’s Mark Whisky from 90 proof down to 84 proof, a mere drop of 3% in alcohol (45% to 42% ABV). Rob Samuels, COO of Maker’s Mark, sent a note to the Maker’s Mark Ambassadors (fans of the whisky who register online) saying:
“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. Nothing about how we handcraft Maker’s Mark has changed, from the use of locally sourced soft red winter wheat as the flavor grain, to aging the whisky to taste in air-dried American white oak barrels, to rotating our barrels during maturation, to hand-dipping every bottle in our signature red wax. In other words, we’ve made sure we didn’t screw up your whisky.”
The outcry was immediate with a flood of consumers taking to social media to voice their unhappiness.The story quickly became a national headline item hitting many major media outlets.
Then something interesting happened. Rob and Bill Samuels, Jr. decided that they had made a mistake and reversed their decision.
On an early Sunday morning phone call, Rob and Bill Samuels, Jr. explained the situation and what they are doing to fix it.
drinkspirits.com: You’ve just announced that you are not going to reduce Maker’s Mark to 82 proof, but instead return to 90 proof. How did this happen?
Rob Samuels: We are really proud of these loyal customers of Maker’s Mark, that they had taken the time to share their feedback. It was through their feedback that we were able to make this decisive return to 90 proof and do it in just a handful of days.
Bill Samuels, Jr.: We are also a little embarrassed about being so stupid.
Rob Samuels: We heard loud and clear from consumers that they would rather put up with the occasional supply shortage than have us change the whiskey in any way. That was one of the big reasons we decided to make this return to 90 proof and do it quickly.
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