Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stop the presses - 90 Proof Maker’s Mark is back

I wrote last week about the move by the distiller of Maker's Mark Bourbon to reduce the alcohol by volume (ABV) content of the bourbon from 45% (90 Proof) to 42% ( 84 Proof) and the firestorm that announcement set off. Well, it didn’t take long for the distiller to understand - like Coca Cola’s faux pas with New Coke - it had made a big mistake. Get the fire extinguishers, 90 Proof is back.

In a letter and emails to their customers from Rob Samuels and Bill Samuels, Jr. the son and grandson of Maker’s Mark founder Bill Samuels, Sr. they announced the reversal of their decision:

“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.”

This reversal is not only pleasing to Maker’s Mark fans but it has created a collector’s market.

Some cases of the 84 Proof bourbon had been shipped and while Maker’s Mark was attempting to recall those cases from distributors, some bottles had already made it to store shelves and had been sold. Those 84 Proof bottles are now collectable. In fact some liquor stores are touting the bottles for sale.

Binny’s in Chicago has some and is advertising its collectability and availability. From its website:

“Makers Missed the Mark.
Don’t miss your chance to grab this COLLECTABLE BOTTLE.

If you missed this story, here’s what happened. Maker’s Mark announced that they would lower the alcohol of their beloved bourbon from 90 to 84 proof. It took less than a week for public outrage to reach such a fervor that they doubled back on their decision, promising to stick with the original recipe.

That makes the low proof Maker’s Mark an instant collector’s item for whiskey enthusiasts.
The distillery is busy reclaiming cases from wholesalers, but we’re holding our allocation for you. We want to offer you the chance to buy this bottle of history. Remember, it’s a limited product, production had a life measured in hours instead of days or weeks. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Available In-Store Only!”

I am not certain where else any of the 84 Proof Maker’s Mark may still be available (don't look for it on EBay, alcohol sales are prohibited there), but I will be keeping my eyes open.

Derby Day Mint Juleps with 90 Proof Maker's Mark are safe.

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