Had any trouble fining Makers Mark on the shelves of your local liquor store as of late? I haven't. The only reason I know is I've been zipping around town comparing prices at the big liquor stores like Spec's, Total Wine, Sigel's and others. It is completely anecdotal that Makers Mark was well stocked at each of these stores while I was conducting my research, but I think it does speak a little to the shortage the distillery is citing as they announce their recent decision to water down their bourbon.
Makers Mark announced that they will be reducing the alcohol in their product to deal with surplus demand for the whiskey. The letter addressed to their brand ambassadors explains the
short change they claim is a response to news that many of their customers have been having difficulty finding Maker's Mark in local stores.
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After looking at all possible solutions, we've worked carefully to reduce the alcohol by volume (ABV) by just 3%. This will enable us to maintain the same taste profile and increase our limited supply so there is enough Maker's Mark to go around, while we continue to expand the distillery and increase our production capacity.
Before you get too mad you should know that international demand for bourbon has been skyrocketing. And I'm willing to bet that most people won't notice the difference 3 percent makes in a glass of bourbon. My parents didn't notice when I replaced a small (very small) percentage of their vodka with water as a youngster. (Sorry, Ma!) I wonder if Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels will notice the difference that same percentage makes in his bottom line, though.
The move highlights the priorities of the massive distiller. Many smaller, craft producers look at excess demand as bragging rights. A clean shelf or empty stock room is evidence that the product they developed was good and highly valued by their customers. The sales performance is viewed as evidence that the production methods they have embraced should be celebrated, not diluted. Makers Mark decided it was an opportunity to just raid the liquor cabinet instead.