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Maker’s Mark Misses the Mark

February 11th, 2013 - 2:05 pm

The saddest story you will read all day:

Maker’s Mark is getting a little less boozy.

The bourbon producer, known for its signature red wax-sealed bottles, is watering down its whiskey in an effort to meet rising global demand.

The change was first announced in a letter from company executives to loyal customers.
“Fact is, demand for our bourbon is exceeding our ability to make it, which means we’re running very low on supply,” wrote Rob Samuels, the company COO.

Samuels said that “after looking at all possible solutions,” the company was reducing alcohol by volume by 3%.

Fact is, all liquor is watered down.

The stuff in the casks is a much higher proof (typically close to 50% ABV) than the stuff in the bottles (typically 40-46% ABV, depending on the booze and the brand). Distilleries add water during the bottling process to even out the proof, since the alcohol will evaporate at different rates out of different casks. Ideally, the distillery will use the same water used to make the booze in the first place, so no foreign flavors are introduced.

This is why “cask-strength” Scotch confuses me. You’re going to have to water the stuff down a bit to make it palatable, and odds are you won’t have access to the same stuff from that one particular stream in the Scottish highlands or wherever.

Anyway.

What Maker’s is doing is adding more water when they move the stuff from cask to bottle — almost 7% more. You’ll want to add one less ice cube to your rocks glass, or a smaller splash of water, or use a little less sugar & bitters in your Old Fashioned. Because what Maker’s has effectively done here is to sell you 7% less booze in the same size bottle for the same amount of money.

To which I say: I’d take a Bulleit for Maker’s Mark.

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