Maker's Mark to restore alcohol content of whiskey - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Maker's Mark to restore alcohol content of whiskey

Posted: Updated:

By BRETT BARROUQUERE 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — After backlash from customers, the producer of Maker's Mark bourbon is reversing a decision to cut the amount of alcohol in bottles of its famous whiskey.

Rob Samuels, Maker's Mark's chief operating officer, said Sunday that it is restoring the alcohol volume of its product to its historic level of 45 percent, or 90 proof. Last week, it said it was lowering the amount to 42 percent, or 84 proof, because of a supply shortage.

"We've been tremendously humbled over the last week or so," Samuels, grandson of the brand's founder, said of customers' reactions.

The brand known for its square bottles sealed in red wax has struggled to keep up with demand. Distribution has been squeezed, and the brand had to curtail shipments to some overseas markets.

In a tweet Sunday, the company said to its followers: "You spoke. We listened."

Fans of the whiskey applauded the move and questioned why the company moved to change in the first place.

"Some things you just got to leave alone," Todd Matthews, 42, of Livingston, Tenn., said.

Company officials said much customer feedback came from Twitter and Facebook. On those sites, comments on Sunday's change of course ranged from angry to celebratory to self-congratulatory. The statement on Maker's Mark's Facebook page drew more than 14,000 "likes" and 2,200 comments within two hours of Sunday's announcement.

The change in recipe started with a shortage of the bourbon amid an ongoing expansion of the company's operations that cost tens of millions of dollars.

Maker's Mark Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels, the founder's son, said the company focused almost exclusively on not altering the taste of the bourbon while stretching the available product and didn't consider the emotional attachment that customers have to the brand and its composition.

Bill Samuels said the company tinkered with how much water to add and keep the taste the same for about three months before making the announcement about the change Monday. It marked the first time the bourbon brand, more than a half-century old, had altered its proof or alcohol volume.

"Our focus was on the supply problem. That led to us focusing on a solution," Bill Samuels said. "We got it totally wrong."

Both Bill and Rob Samuels said customer reaction was immediate. Company officials heard from "thousands and thousands of consumers" that a bourbon shortage was preferable to a change in how the spirits were made, Bill Samuels said.

"They would rather put up with the occasional supply shortage than put up with any change in their hand-made bourbon," Rob Samuels said.

The change in alcohol volume called for the recipe and process to stay the same, except for a "touch more water" to be added when the whiskey comes out of the barrel for bottling, Rob Samuels said.

When production restarts Monday, those plans are off the table, Bill Samuels said.

"We really made this decision after an enormous amount of thought, and we focused on the wrong things," Bill Samuels said.

Maker's Mark is owned by spirits company Beam Inc., based in Deerfield, Ill. Its other brands include Jim Beam bourbon.

Maker's is made at a distillery near the small town of Loretto, 45 miles south of Louisville.

Its bourbon ages in barrels for at least six summers and no longer than seven years before bottling.

The supply shortage at Maker's comes amid growing demand for Kentucky bourbons in general.

Combined Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales from producers or suppliers to wholesalers rose 5.2 percent to 16.9 million cases last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade association that released figures last week. Revenue shot up 7.3 percent to $2.2 billion, it said. Premium brands, generally made in smaller batches with heftier prices, led sales and revenue gains.

Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon supply, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association. There are 4.9 million bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky, which outnumbers the state's population.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

  • Your MoneyMore>>

  • Getting married? You may want your prenup to protect your 'digital privacy'

    Getting married? You may want your prenup to protect your 'digital privacy'

    Friday, April 18 2014 10:11 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:11:48 GMT
    Realty TV star Kim Kardashian probably wished she did have one before she walked down the aisle with Kris Humphries. We might never have known about Tiger Woods' cheating ways if he had one. And figure skater Johnny Weir is insisting on one as part of his post-nuptial agreement. What is it? A digital privacy clause. New York City divorce lawyer Bettina Hindin says once you push "send" someone can find it.
    Realty TV star Kim Kardashian probably wished she did have one before she walked down the aisle with Kris Humphries. We might never have known about Tiger Woods' cheating ways if he had one. And figure skater Johnny Weir is insisting on one as part of his post-nuptial agreement. What is it? A digital privacy clause. New York City divorce lawyer Bettina Hindin says once you push "send" someone can find it.
  • Grocery-store etiquette

    Grocery-store etiquette

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:24 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:24:07 GMT
    Whether barricading shopping aisles with abandoned carts, massaging every piece of fruit in the building, or blankly staring at a shelf of items so no one else can pick one, grocery store pests can turn a quick trip to restock your fridge into a nightmare.
    Whether barricading shopping aisles with abandoned carts, massaging every piece of fruit in the building, or blankly staring at a shelf of items so no one else can pick one, grocery store pests can turn a quick trip to restock your fridge into a nightmare. In the hope of gently educating those unclear on grocery-shopping etiquette, we asked you to help us put together a list of what not to do.
  • Expert: credit cards are not fully secure

    Expert: credit cards are not fully secure

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:49 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:49:51 GMT
    Another week and another credit card hacking at a major retailer. This time it was Michael's craft store. Consumers are uneasy because current credit card technology is antiquated. "The fact is you cannot protect your credit cards, you can't every time you give it out it is vulnerable to fraud," says Robert Siciliano, McAfee identity theft expert.
    Another week and another credit card hacking at a major retailer. This time it was Michael's craft store. Consumers are uneasy because current credit card technology is antiquated. "The fact is you cannot protect your credit cards, you can't every time you give it out it is vulnerable to fraud," says Robert Siciliano, McAfee identity theft expert.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices