Maker's Mark defends decision to water down signature bourbon - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Maker's Mark defends decision to water down signature bourbon

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Marker's Mark in a store. (Photo by Arun Kristian Das | MyFox New York) Marker's Mark in a store. (Photo by Arun Kristian Das | MyFox New York)
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Bourbon fans are figuratively up in arms because a famous Kentucky distillery will soon dilute its whisky more than usual because of a shortage.

Maker's Mark, which is distilled in Loretto, Ky., will soon be bottled at 84 proof, or 42 percent alcohol by volume, down from 90 proof, or 45 percent alcohol.

It is known for its distinctive rectangular bottle sealed with red wax. 

Rob Samuels, chief operating officer for Maker's Mark and grandson of the brand's founder, said that many bars, restaurants, package stores around the country have run low on the corn-based whisky.

Maker's Mark aficionados took to social media and other online outlets to express outrage over the decision.

But the company countered by pointing out that all whisky is watered down after distillation to achieve a certain proof level.

"Because Maker's Mark is aged to taste, Dad never put a specific age statement on the bottle. It wasn't the age that mattered; it was the taste, the quality and the consistency," said Bill Samuels Jr., the distillery's chairman emeritus and son of its founder. "As we looked at potential solutions to address the shortage, we agreed again that the most important thing was whether it tastes the same."

Samuels said that he and his son, Rob Samuels, tasted different batches over the course of a month and they felt the "taste profile" was the same. He also said a tasting panel at the distillery also said the weaker whisky didn't taste difference from the 90-proof batch.

Maker's Mark is owned by Illinois-based Beam Inc., which also makes Jim Beam bourbon and rye.

Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon supply, the AP reported. But startup distilleries are popping up around the country, including several in New York, that make small-batch whiskies, including bourbon, rye, and unaged whisky.

"Ultimately, all I can ask is that you reserve judgment until you actually taste the whisky, like I did," Samuels said. "In the meantime, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to write us a note. It shows that you care about Maker's Mark, and that's what we've been striving for over the past 50 years. I hope you'll give us the chance to continue earning that devotion and allow us to prove that we didn't screw up your whisky."

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