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Hope you like your Maker's Mark with a splash of water... - Page 2

post #16 of 27
Can a person really taste the difference between 40% ABV and 37?
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post

Can a person really taste the difference between 40% ABV and 37?
And between 37 and 34? 34 and 31? 31 and 28? If this is the beginning, where will it end, if they try to argue this way?
As an answer to your question, I think it completely depends on the liquor and the person drinking it. Some liquors are more prone to dilution than others while some people are more or less sensitive to alcohol (in a bad way, as in numbing), etc.

FWIW, Maker's Mark has 45% in Germany. Is this the regular proof in the US too? 42% would still be relatively high, but their reasoning is utter bullshit. If it didn't change the taste, why haven't they reduced the abv before?
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by b1os View Post

And between 37 and 34? 34 and 31? 31 and 28? If this is the beginning, where will it end, if they try to argue this way?
FWIW, Maker's Mark has 45% in Germany. Is this the regular proof in the US too? 42% would still be relatively high, but their reasoning is utter bullshit. If it didn't change the taste, why haven't they reduced the abv before?

40% is the standard in the US and Canada. It of course does not come out of the barrel this way but is watered down to obtain this. So they're going to water it down a little more. I just am unsure I could taste the difference at that level of alcohol. Taste it in a wine 12% vs. 15? Could well be. But at those high levels of alcohol in spirits? Doubting it.

Also, hard to imagine the gallonage we're talking about for 3% difference to materially increase their inventory.
post #19 of 27
That's a 10% change in the alcohol content, seems like it would have a subtle but noticeable effect for someone with a reasonably sensitive palate.


People talk about adding "a few drops" to change the profile of a whiskey. That's a percent or so change in the alcohol % for the average pour.
post #20 of 27
At lower volumes of alcohol I would tend to agree but once we get up there I start to wonder. And we are talking about Maker's Mark so probably no one is going to be really paying attention.
post #21 of 27
Yeah, 40% is standard abv here too, which is why I was confused by MM's 45%.

Like I edited above, I think it depends on the liquor. There has to be a point at which everyone notices a difference. If you compare 40% MM and 37% MM, you may taste a difference. It might not be very prominent, but it's likely there. If not, you may notice it when you further dilute it to 36%/35%/34%.. at some point, you have to notice a change. Will that breaking point be the same for every liquor? I doubt it. Will a 3% dillution not affect the taste? I doubt it. Will everyone notice it? I doubt it. But anyway, since they bottle it at 45% for the export's market and want to change it to 37% for the US market, that is quite a difference in abv, and I'm sure it's very noticeable. The question is why they don't begin with bottling 40% for the non-US market as opposed to diluting the US market's to a below-market-average-abv, and maybe, in addition, increase the price by a small margin.

Well, an 8% (or so) increase in bottlings seems sufficient for them to make such a decision.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnatty8 View Post

If this IS true, and not some cynical, yet admittedly clever marketing strategy, I put the odds as very high that they will alienate their hardcore base, but the average bourbon drinker, particularly in the export market, won't even notice. In other words, they seem to have made a calculated decision that keeping their base happy is not as economic as selling more bottles of less potent whiskey.

Seems to have worked out just fine for Jack Daniel's, which has gone from 90 proof to 86 proof to 80 proof over the last 15 or 20 years without stopping sales growth. The people at Beam obviously think that their core customers won't be upset enough to stop buying, and I wouldn't bet on them being wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post

Also, hard to imagine the gallonage we're talking about for 3% difference to materially increase their inventory.

Remember that aged, barrel-proof Bourbon probably will be around 60% ABV. Going from 45% to 42% means that you can get around 6.67% more bottles out of a barrel, which isn't insignificant. I think that Maker's has cracked the million-case-per-year mark; so this move gives them 67,000 more cases to sell, without the capital expenditure or the lead time necessary to expand their production.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcusey View Post

Seems to have worked out just fine for Jack Daniel's, which has gone from 90 proof to 86 proof to 80 proof over the last 15 or 20 years without stopping sales growth. The people at Beam obviously think that their core customers won't be upset enough to stop buying, and I wouldn't bet on them being wrong.

Remember that aged, barrel-proof Bourbon probably will be around 60% ABV. Going from 45% to 42% means that you can get around 6.67% more bottles out of a barrel, which isn't insignificant. I think that Maker's has cracked the million-case-per-year mark; so this move gives them 67,000 more cases to sell, without the capital expenditure or the lead time necessary to expand their production.

These two points seem to ring true.

I think sending out the email with the stupid explanation was foolish, but distilleries play with their ABVs all the time and the average consumer can neither tell or care about the difference. By law Makers, or any bourbon for that matter, will ever drop below 40%.

Another reason I've heard that they are doing this is to create more separation between Makers 46 and mainline MM.
post #24 of 27
Looks like someone sat down with the good folks at Maker's Mark and explained that you don't deal with increased demand by screwing with the high-demand product.
Quote:
You spoke. We listened.

Dear Friends,

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.

The unanticipated dramatic growth rate 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.

Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.

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.

As always, we will continue to let you know first about developments at the distillery. In the meantime please keep telling us what’s on your mind and come down and visit us at the distillery. It means a lot to us.

Sincerely,

Rob Samuels Bill Samuels, Jr
Chief Operating Officer Chairman Emeritus
rob@makersmark.com bill@makersmark.com
post #25 of 27
Wise decision.
post #26 of 27
Hmm, now I'm thinking these c-suckers just mind phucked everyone. If the demand thing is true, I am pretty sure they knew that the "correct" way of handling it was by increasing the price, although potentially not a popular move. Instead, the put out this story that they are going to lower the alcohol, and two things happen. People probably go out and stock up on whatever MM is in their stores adn they complain to MM about diluting it. Now they come out with this, "hey, we are not going to change it!". In a few weeks, I foresee a 10-15% price increase due to the demand and their customers will happily take the increase as opposed to the prior dilution tinfoil.gif
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by edmorel View Post

Hmm, now I'm thinking these c-suckers just mind phucked everyone. If the demand thing is true, I am pretty sure they knew that the "correct" way of handling it was by increasing the price, although potentially not a popular move. Instead, the put out this story that they are going to lower the alcohol, and two things happen. People probably go out and stock up on whatever MM is in their stores adn they complain to MM about diluting it. Now they come out with this, "hey, we are not going to change it!". In a few weeks, I foresee a 10-15% price increase due to the demand and their customers will happily take the increase as opposed to the prior dilution tinfoil.gif

This. And it doesn't hurt that this stunt got them a free headline on CNN.
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