Thursday, February 14, 2013

Maker's Mark Shortage?

If you have been following our newsletters over the course of the last year, you may remember an article or two from me regarding bourbons and whiskeys and what we have to offer. From bringing in several new brands to add to our already extensive list of small batch bourbons and whiskeys to even putting together a bourbon sampler, it seems bourbon has really taken off in recent years. In fact, just in 2012 alone, sales increased by 5% and bourbon now accounts for more than 35% of all spirit sales. This is a growing transition from a time when vodka was leading the way.

I recently came across an interesting article that involves one of the bigger, more popular brands you always find out there, Maker's Mark.  The distinctive bottle with the famous red wax seal (see how it's dipped in the video below) just recently announced that it is reducing its alcohol content in an effort to keep up with production of its famous bourbon whiskey. Really?
Yes, you heard it. Their thought is that their bourbon with less alcohol is "better than not having any at all." Apparently, rising demand from both here in the U.S. and internationally (Germany, Australia and Japan), the company can not keep up. Their answer is that they could stretch the supply by making it less strong?
Maker's Mark is aged in charred oak barrels for at least six years. I for one, disagree with this plan. Everything you read about some of the great distillers in both our country and across the world is how the history of their recipe has remained unchanged for decades, or even sometimes hundreds of years. It involves the same ingredients and processes that the founders themselves created many years before. The history is what makes them what they are. It is what it is. You can't change a historic recipe. Doing so always has its consequences.
You may remember a similar situation a few years back with Knob Creek. With a minimum age of 9 years, it too ran into a shortage. It's answer was if "we can not make it the way it has always been intended, you will have to wait. We are not disturbing its aging process to sell an inferior product." This is the way it should be. Although the distiller insists the taste is consistent to what it has been since the beginning, I just hope watering down their product in order to hopefully increase profit margin, does not affect them in a negative way.

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