Maker’s Mark reverses decision to water down whiskey

After a boatload of backlash, Maker’s Mark has decided not to water down its bourbon to keep up with demand.

The company got plenty of angry feedback from its customers last week when it announced it planned to reduce the alcohol content of its bourbon in response to supply constraints.

“You spoke. We listened. 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 company announced in a statement Sunday.

The company said it was “humbled” by the 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,” the company said.

Its decision to continue to make 90 proof whiskey is effective immediately.

Fans of the whiskey who complained, quickly applauded the move. The statement on Maker’s Mark’s Facebook page drew more than 22,000 “likes” and 3,300 comments within a few hours of Sunday’s announcement.

Were you one of their customers who would rather put up with a supply shortage rather than a weaker bourbon?

29 comments Add your comment

Fred ™

February 17th, 2013
7:01 pm

The idea was so stupid I thought Nathan Deal came up with it……….


February 17th, 2013
7:32 pm

I would rather have Wellers. Aged longer, cost less, kicks MM’s butt in blind taste test, the first wheated bourbon, and the one MM copied.

godless heathen - owner of many things he does not need

February 17th, 2013
7:44 pm

Best idea since New Coke.


February 17th, 2013
7:46 pm

Fred, I’m hardly a denizen of the left wing–but that was pretty funny!

Old timer

February 17th, 2013
7:53 pm

Fred…good comment


February 17th, 2013
7:55 pm

Publicity stunt!

The real truth

February 17th, 2013
8:01 pm

Lots of free publicity!! Very smart.


February 17th, 2013
8:15 pm

Sure was – not such thing as bad publicity.

The platitudes – ‘you spoke and we listened’.
As if they thought – one will care.
And I read the pre-announcement they had and it full of “it’s only a teeny tweak” – “in order to satify the overwhelming demand”.

Was that Michael Thurmond speaking?


February 17th, 2013
8:17 pm

That was very funny about Shady Deal.

But had he come up with it – it would have bene wrapped in a mystery, shoruded in a riddle, and implemented by some committee or board that no one ever heard of.


February 17th, 2013
8:19 pm

And is it only me – but does it see the height of absurdity and hypocrisy that the county where Jim Beam is made – is dry?


February 17th, 2013
8:25 pm

Just when I was about to switch.

(But I have soaked up some in advance)


February 17th, 2013
8:33 pm

Jerry is right on — try Wellers’ Reserve when the price of MM goes thru the roof due to supply and demand.


February 17th, 2013
8:39 pm

It was so bad it was right up there with Solyndra, but it didn’t cost the taxpayers 480 million either.


February 17th, 2013
9:17 pm

Corporate execs get paid big bucks to make stupid decisions. A first year business school dropout would know better. Dumbasses.

bill samuels - founder and president at MM

February 17th, 2013
9:18 pm

bill samuels - founder and president at MM

February 17th, 2013
9:18 pm

and wellers is my favorite too


February 17th, 2013
9:19 pm

Btw, What shortage. There are cases of it in my local package store.


February 17th, 2013
9:20 pm

“Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning”

If you were considering diluting your product, then we have to believe you do any number of other things to cheapen your product in order to make more money. Thankfully, there are a number of fantastic bourbons out there and you won’t be missed.


February 17th, 2013
9:21 pm

perhaps they read the history of Schlitz beer, who changed their formula and went from the most popular beer in America to out of business.


February 17th, 2013
9:26 pm

I like Tickle’s moonshine.It ain’t watered down….


February 17th, 2013
10:01 pm

Should have just done it without saying anything. 99% of people wouldn’t have known the difference.

Furious Styles

February 17th, 2013
10:19 pm

Ha! Yet again, America’s best is willing to change their formula to line their pockets. Greedy fools are always willing to go too far.


February 17th, 2013
11:27 pm

Except that… they didn’t change their formula. Is the obvious just completely lost on the stupid or am I having a bad hair day on the mutha flubbin enterwebz?


February 17th, 2013
11:53 pm

It was such an idiotic idea, I figured the government was involved.

Cletus Snow

February 18th, 2013
12:38 am

Just goes to show ya any publicity good or bad helps. They got new and improved without doing a thing. And woke up their market,,,, smooth move.


February 18th, 2013
6:32 am

The media has called it ‘watering down’. The phrase ‘water down’ has caused a knee-jerk reaction from the overall public, and ever from people who do not really drink MM.

With the exception of brands labeled Barrel Proof, they all have water added in what is called the Rectification process.
The flavor profile come from the Water used in the Mash, the percentage of grains in the mash, the yeast/yeasts used in the mash, the temperature and length of time uses to cook the mash and also how much of the Sourmash is used or added. Other factors include the quality of the oak barrels and the depth of char on them and the lenght of time and location where the barrels are stored in the Rickhouse.

Some of you may not see a shortage. Just because you don’t see it does not mean there is not a shortage being sold across 2 oceans. The way some folks fawn over 12 yr scotch or so called russian vodka is the same folks who live in Europe and in Asia fawn over quality American Bourbon.

Most quality liquors get their unique flavor profiles from how and with what they are made. Some other popular brands actually have sugar and other things including flavorings including artificial ones added during the Rectification process.

Even making quality moonshine is a special craft.

So perhaps MM will just raise the price as the demand gets higher.


February 18th, 2013
12:15 pm

Diluting Maker’s Mark was possibly the dumbest marketing move since New Coke, how could they not have expected a backlash from their customers. Whatever genius came up with the idea should be summarily fired.

The Walrus

February 18th, 2013
12:30 pm

It may have been a bad idea, but the other option to make sure product does not run dry is to raise the price. So all of you that were pissed with this decision, don’t cry when prices go up.

Bubba Grump

February 18th, 2013
12:58 pm

As a long time Maker’s Mark drinker and a MM “Ambassador” I received the official e-mail from Rob Samuels (copied below). I couldn’t believe that they really were thinking of screwing around with the original recipe and was sure glad to hear that they have come to their senses and decided to keep it as it is.

I will drink to that!!

Dear Ambassador,

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.


Rob Samuels
Chief Operating Officer,

Bill Samuels, Jr.
Chairman Emeritus,