Maker's Mark Waters Down Bourbon, Angers Drinkers

Staff Writer
In an effort to meet rising global demand, the producer has simply decided to lower the alcohol percentage
Maker's Mark
Facebook/Maker's Mark

In a typical economic situation, when demand increases, prices rise as well. Turns out, Maker's Mark is working on another solution to increase supply and keep the price the same: watering down their bourbon.

In an email to distrubutors over the weekend, brand ambassadors Rob Samuels and Bill Samuels, Jr. announced Maker's Mark's plans to reduce the alcohol by volume (ABV) 3 percent as an effort to keep up with the international demand.

Quartz notes, however, that if the producers actually mean 3 percentage points (making Maker's Mark a 42 percent ABV beverage instead of its previous 45 percent ranking), the alcohol decrease would actually be a 6.7 percent fall.

Beam executives have noted in the past that international demands for bourbon as a slightly sweeter alternative to Scotch have been on the rise, especially in Australia, Germany, and Japan. The company had warned last year that it didn't have enough supply to keep up with the demand, raising prices to match the market.

The decrease in ABV, however, might turn fans looking for a slightly stiffer drink to other bourbon brands; Woodford Reserve's lowest ABV bottle clocks in at 43 percent, while Blanton's Original is 46 percent. Plenty of fans have spoken out against the move on Facebook (even planning a boycott), even though Rob Samuels and Bill Samuels, Jr. claim the taste is the same.

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"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," the two descendants wrote in the email. "We’ve also done extensive testing with Maker’s Mark drinkers, and they couldn’t tell a difference." To that, one fan says, "if your tasters tell you this hasn't effected the bourbon's taste profile — fire them!"