By Lorie Hailey
To the chagrin of its consumers, Maker’s Mark announced Feb. 9 that it planned to lower the popular spirit’s alcohol content from 45 to 42 in response to “supply constraints.”
The company heard concerns from many of its ambassadors and brand fans since the announcement, and in response, has reversed its decision to lower its distilled spirit to 84 proof, according to a letter issued Sunday by Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark CEO, and his father, Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels Jr.
“While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision,” the letter reads. “You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”
When the company announced the decision to lower the proof, Rob Samuels had said lowering the alcohol content by 3 percent was the only way to meet the product’s higher demand. Maker’s Mark had been so popular over the holidays, he said, consumers were having trouble finding it.
Rob Samuels had said the bourbon would taste the same, and so would the price.
But bourbon-lovers weren’t buying it.
In Sunday’s letter, the company said the unanticipated dramatic growth of Maker’s Mark is “a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages. We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery,” the letter reads.
The father-and-son team thanked Maker’s Mark drinkers for reminding them “what makes Maker’s Mark.”
“We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created. Same recipe. Same production process. Same product,” the letter said.
Maker’s Mark is one of the Top 10 best-selling bourbons. In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, 1.03 million cases were sold.