Business
7:10 pm
Sat February 9, 2013

Maker's Mark Reduces Alcohol By Volume to Meet Demand

Credit Creative Commons

It's now going to take a little more Maker's Mark to get you tipsy, not that Maker's is the sort of bourbon one drinks just to get tipsy.

Nonetheless.

Maker's Mark is reducing its alcohol by volume by three percent in an effort to meet increased demand, says an e-mail from executives to Maker's Mark Ambassadors.

Update 12:45 p.m. Sunday: Here's a Q&A with Maker's Mark chief operating officer Rob Samuels, where he explains the decision.

In the message obtained by WFPL, chairman emeritus Bill Samuels Jr. and  chief operating officer Rob Samuels say demand is far exceeding the production capacity of the Loretto, Ky., distillery. It notes that Maker's Mark has become difficult to find for some of the letter's recipients.

Maker's Mark is low on supply and is expanding the distillery, the message says. 

The message adds:

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 the past, Maker's Mark had an alcohol by volume content of 45 percent, according to this bottle in front of me. The Samuels' e-mail lists it at 42 percent.

A favorite in Kentucky seemingly for eons, bourbon has grown over the years in popularity in the rest of the world. And Maker's Mark, which is owned by Beam Inc., isn't the only bourbon in short supply. Because it must by law be aged to be called bourbon, distillers have to estimate market demand at least two years (but usually longer) before it reaches the shelves. 

We've left messages from a Maker's Mark spokesman seeking comment. We'll update when we hear something.