Edit: Maker's Mark announced today that they have reversed their decision to lower the proof of it's bourbon after listening to customer feedback. I'm obviously pleased with the decision, but this seems suspect. Things went back and forth entirely too quickly. It almost looks like this was all a calculated marketing ploy, and our collective irritated response has now given the company a license to raise prices. What are your thoughts, bourbon fans?
Fellow bourbon lovers, it appears there are going to be some changes made at the Maker's Mark Distillery. The company has announced that in order to meet rising demand it is going to lower the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) content of its bourbon from 45% to 42%. I am not pleased with this decision.
I've never been much of a fan of Maker's Mark. I think it's rather lackluster for the price, and it's a bit sweet for my tastes. That said, I've always respected the distillery for its history and for putting out a quality product with ever increasing competition. I understand its wide appeal; it's a very accessible bourbon for beginners to the whiskey world, and it makes excellent cocktails. More importantly, it's widely available. I know that no matter what bar I'm in if I get a whisk-thirst, I can fall back on Maker's Mark if my options are limited. It looks like I'm going to have to find a new fall back.
The president of Maker's Mark stated that customers will not notice any difference and that the company has taken every measure to ensure the flavor profile is exactly the same as the original recipe. Color me skeptical. Adding water to whiskey affects the flavor profile, period. Pour yourself two glasses of your favorite bourbon, put a few drops of water in one, let them sit for a few minutes, and tastes them. You'll see that they taste like two drastically different spirits, and that's why I just simply can't believe the flavor of Maker's Mark won't change with the dilution. Still, the master distillers at the company are much more knowledgeable about such things than I am, so perhaps they were able to tinker with the process enough to keep the flavor the same.
Even if we accept the president's assertion that the taste won't change, this dilution still irks me because it reeks of a decision made solely to maximize the company's bottom line. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with any business maximizing profits; that's the primary reason most get into business. I just don't believe the art of making spirits should be reduced to a numbers game. I want to enjoy a product that was made with care by people who truly love their craft and want to produce the best spirits possible for their customers. That notion is why so many people loathe the American Macro Breweries and decry whiskeys like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam for being overpriced for their quality. Ultimately, volume usually cuts into quality.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Maker's Mark is now the equivalent of a major mass produced bourbon by virtue of this decision, but I'm bothered by where the product might be headed. I would much rather have seen Maker's Mark stand by the quality of their product and accept that expansion into new markets isn't currently feasible instead of watering down the whiskey.
Maybe that's a naive notion in today's society, but I stand by it. I'm too much of an aficionado to not care, and I'll definitely think twice before pulling a waxed bottle off the store shelf next time.
What say you BONizens? Legitimate concern, or making a mountain out of a molehill?