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OFF TOPIC: Makers Mark lowering proof to 84

In a bit of very surprising news, our beloved bourbon will be having a chemical shift in the very near future. My heart is sad about this, but my liver is pretty dang thankful.

This decision feels like it was taken from the playbook of Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire: Maker’s Mark will be lowering their proof from 90 to 84. This proof change represents a shift in alcohol content from 45% to 42%. How important is that 3%? Eh, probably not much. But in the Bluegrass, we don’t like change to age-old traditions. Or that’s at least my personal knee-jerk reaction.

So why the change? Looks like Maker’s Mark is in such high demand that they are struggling to keep the masses happy. And apparently lowering the proof allows for them to make more bourbon as a more efficient pace. Check out this quote from an company executive sent out to clients:

“Fact is, demand for our bourbon is exceeding our ability to make it, which means we’re running very low on supply.”

I am unsure whether the difference will be easily distinguishable on taste, but I definitely don’t see everyone being completely happy with this. I get the whole supply and demand side of the economics argument, but c’mon. A wise man once told me – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That man was my Uncle Tony Joe and he was drunk off bourbon at the time.

However, I think I found a perfect culprit for any lack of Maker’s supply national: I blame the Charlie Strong Maker’s Mark bottles. They should’ve never wasted money on these bottles, especially now that Stoops is in town and already beating the BCS-bowl winning Strong on the recruiting trail.


Article written by Chris Thomas

61 Comments for OFF TOPIC: Makers Mark lowering proof to 84

  1. DB11
    7:02 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I toured their distillery back in November. I was surprised it was so small for such a popular company. The news doesn’t surprise me.

  2. Bob
    7:10 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I smell BS. Why not just raise the price? I think it’s a margin grab.

  3. Delk00
    7:11 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Just a way to make more money, lower proof, charged at the same retail price. Lowering the proof is just diluting the product to produce more makers at a cheaper cost to them….product will still be priced at its normal price most likely, just stiffing the customers is all they are doing to turn a better profit

  4. James
    7:11 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    The reason the can produce so much is because Beam has taken them over, also back in December and January there was a major shortage.

  5. Joe
    7:15 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Very dumb decision IMO. Bourbon enthusiasts are purists by nature. They may have solved their supply problem the wrong way. This has that new coke/ clear Pepsi vibe to it. So when will the 84 proof bourbon hit shelves? Is makers mark a twelve year bourbon? I’m a beer drinker. I can’t wrap my head around this at all.

  6. Jim Tom
    7:16 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Well, I’ll just stick with my moonshine. 160 proof is the strongest I can make. Golly that’s gooood.

  7. cousin it
    7:17 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    There is still plenty of Wild Turkey to go around! Better bourbon at a better price! GIVE ‘EM THE BIRD!

  8. Commander McBragg
    7:20 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I have an idea. Stop selling commemorative bottles filled with Bourbon. Fill the damn things with cider. No one opens the bottles. That would probably leave enough Bourbon to meet demand.

  9. bourbontimeline
    7:23 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    wouldn’t it take a few yrs for these ‘new’ batches to hit the market given the aging process

  10. Coolioo
    7:24 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Drink larceny. Wheated bourbon and 94 proof. MM is just watering down the product and I doubt they are lowering the price

  11. Bubba Earl
    7:25 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    As in grocery retailing, manufacturers create a smaller package, reduced product count, and higher price!

  12. Kentucky Gentlemen
    7:26 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I’ll continue to buy my Kentucky Gentlemen half-gallon at Rit-Aid for $14.99. I mix it anyway so it doesn’t matter. They can keep their $4o dollar fifth of 84 proof Makers Mark.

  13. Wilson Rawlings
    7:27 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I prefer Woodford anyway. But yeah, it had to have been those horrid Charlie Strong bottles…

  14. Makers Man
    7:29 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    #7 – Have to disagree. Kickin Chicken is my least favorite bourbon. Well, that and Old Crow.

    The move has to be purely a cash grab by Beam. Since they bought out Samuels last year things have not been the same. Unfortunately, corporate managers are now involved in my bourbon. This is the result.

    #5 – Thanks for the flashback to Clear Pepsi! Only thing that was good for was emptying the bottle to refill with vodka to get it into my dorm back in the day.

    If folks really want an alternative to Makers, the only two that stack up are Basil Hayden and Blantons. Both are a little more expensive than Makers.

  15. Troy
    7:29 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I blame Obamanomics. It’s called cost cutting. You’ll notice toothpaste tubes are smaller for the same price, soap bars the same, etc.

  16. Coolioo
    7:35 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Samuels haven’t owners makers for decades

  17. Jarvis Redwine
    7:40 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    15) Not a dime’s worth of difference between a mainstream republican and a mainstream democrat. The two party system is a farce. Too many sheeple who believe that voting democrat or republican will make a difference. The constitution is being ignored by both parties.

  18. red headed step child
    7:40 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I call B.S. on this one, money grab. I drink Woodford so doesn’t affect me in the least. However it may effect the line beards. You saw what I did, right? I know it is not nice to poke the Tards after last night but it is funny.

  19. Pikeville25
    7:41 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Can someone post Alex poythress pass from last night? TIA!

  20. Scott in Tally
    7:43 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I am not a fan of Makers, drank it in college, thought I was drinking good bourbon, boy was I wrong. Once I got a real job I left Makers for much better bourbon. I still drink Makers but its when I want to add Coke for coloring. As for the bird, seriously, you call that good?

  21. snapper
    7:44 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Sounds like Makers needs to expand.

  22. Jarvis Redwine
    7:46 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Elmer T. Lee, Buffalo Trace, Ancient Ancient Age and Old Forester Signature are all better.

  23. Really
    7:50 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    #15 – Seriously? Obamanomics? We want to talk political economics? Really? Here is an excerpt from an article from the Berkeley Daily Planet written from Professor Arthur Blaustein, who teaches Community and Economic Development at the University of California, Berkeley.:

    “News flash… Guess which president since World War II did best on these eight generally accepted measures of good management of the nation’s economy. You can choose among six Republicans: Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bushes I and II; and six Democrats: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama. (No peeking.)

    1. The highest growth in the gross domestic product?
    2. The highest growth in jobs?
    3. The biggest increase in personal disposable income after taxes?
    4. The highest growth in industrial production?
    5. The highest growth in hourly wages?
    6. The lowest Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment)?
    7. The lowest inflation?
    8. The largest reduction in the deficit?

    The answers are 1.Harry Truman, 2.Bill Clinton, 3.Lyndon Johnson, 4.John F. Kennedy, 5.Johnson, 6.Truman, 7.Truman, 8.Clinton. In the Economic Sweepstakes, Democratic presidents trounce Republicans eight times out of eight!

    If this isn’t enough to destroy the myth that economy has performed better under Republicans, the stock market has also done better under the Democrats. The Dow Jones Industrial Average during the 20th century rose 7.3 percent on average per year under Republican presidents. Under Democrats, it rose 10.3 percent–which means investors gained a whopping 41 percent more. And the stock market during George W’s two terms took a nosedive while it recovered handsomely under Obama. Moreover, since WWII, Democratic presidents have increased the national debt by an average of 3.9 percent per year and Republican presidents have increased it an average of 10.3 percent. During the same time period, Democratic presidents produced, on average, an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent; Republicans 6.4 percent. That’s the historical record.”

  24. MHFaulkner
    7:53 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I will be interested to see how it changes the taste. I do think it’s a matter of supply vs. a price grab.

    They are a small distillery and if you’ll recall, there was a time that many special edition runs were empty bottles due to the shortage of winter wheat.

    But, with plenty of Basil Hayden, Elijah Craig 18 and 20, and Blanton’s around, no one will really complain too much.

  25. dtfromgeorgetown
    7:54 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I’m suprised they told anybody.

  26. Just saying
    7:55 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t be stupid. Makers was bought out by Beam brands 6-7 years ago, the vast majority of their bourbon is NOT made at that touring facility in Loretto, ky. The truth is two fold. They dilute more (add water) to raise revenue (aka lower cost, but continue charging the same) because raising prices offends people, but lowering the quality is missed by most people. Secondly the federal tax on 86 proof is drastically cheaper than 90 proof, another way to raise revenue. Lastly, Makers “famous” recipe changed 5 years ago to include less Wheat ( the product they claim sets them aprt from everyone else) and are using the MUCH cheaper rye. The truth is, Makers is now much more known for novelty bottles than good bourbon. Sad actually

  27. Channing
    7:55 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I drive by that place several times a month and it’s crazy the rate they are expanding the warehouses.
    I can see this as being a part time solution until they complete the expanding process, as it does take 7 years to age. Doesn’t effect me really as I only collect the bottles, and don’t drink it.

  28. Mike
    7:56 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Need some big time FB updates.

  29. Just saying
    7:59 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    9. No. The product comes out of the Harrell at around 120-130 proof and is watered down to selling proof. They can make that change in one run(when barrels are dumped)

  30. Just saying
    7:59 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Comes out of barrel… Dang autocorrect

  31. Just saying
    8:04 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Lastly. If you don’t think there’s a “big” change from 90 to 86, then I suggest you pour a shot of bourbon, smell it , and taste it….then add 1/2 teaspoon of water to it and smell/taste again. You’ll be amazed at the difference

  32. SeoulCat
    8:07 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    #3, Yep.

  33. Makers Man
    8:07 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    27 – Can you share your source of the information about Makers not being made at the facility?
    Truth is, all Makers IS made there in Loretto. Beam of course makes elsewhere, but Makers Mark is ONLY made there in Loretto.

  34. SeoulCat
    8:08 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Time to switch to Bacardi 151.

  35. UKBlue
    8:09 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Blame China, Japan, Russia & Europe; KY Bourbon is considered creme de la creme of status symbol in China, Japan & Russia; bottles can go for hundreds of dollars. This is going to really end up hurting Makers because their competition is going to use this against them.

    #15 Blame Ben Bernanke: as he makes the value of the Dollar go down, the price of commodities go up, making all the things that go into making your toothpaste go up. They could either massively raise the price or cut the size & keep the price the same; kind of hard to raise prices on people right now.

  36. Steady
    8:13 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    27. Just be lying…

  37. Troy
    8:16 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    17 – Trust me, I am well aware of that, but Obama has stepped on the accelerator

  38. benincincy
    8:44 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Four Roses

  39. Pup, MD
    8:52 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    While it will certainly be a difference, 84 proof is still a perfectly reasonable proof for a bourbon. It will be a different bourbon, but I wouldn’t say it will be a bad one. Basil Hayden is bottled at 80 proof. Higher proof doesn’t do much except for crush a flavor of a bourbon, IMHO, though that’s certainly a person opinion, not a rule. Personal rule of thumb is that any bourbon over 94 proof will need to be cut (after the first sip uncut, of course).

    Where the decrease in proof will make a difference will be in mint juleps or other drinks that use crushed ice. The best use to me of the higher proof bourbons is for use with crushed ice. 90 proof was already on the weaker side of what works well, but a Maker’s julep would still be acceptable at 90 proof. At 84 proof, it’s just not going to work well.

  40. JW Dant
    8:54 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    who cares. its still gonna be overpriced crap

  41. f makers
    8:57 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    First they give money to U of L football program now this?!?!? Back to the frankfort bourbons for this guy!!

  42. Aa
    9:00 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    I work at ancient age. Trust me, someone screwed up & a batch came out a little weak. Rather than waste it, they’ll sell it. Come see us at AA 90.

  43. timer
    9:05 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    42 – Agree

    UK students and grads have been drinking Maker’s for years. They decided to back our in-state rival. No more Maker’s at my tailgate parties.

  44. blitzedanddazed
    9:39 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    What is the big deal? Makers Mark is a horrible bourbon that is on par with the Bud Lites of the beer universe.

  45. Bourbon Aficionado
    9:39 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Four Roses and Woodford Reserve outclass Maker’s in every respect!

  46. coolioo
    9:48 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Woodford is just fancy Old Forrestor

  47. I barrel the ship
    9:52 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    #27 you are wrong. I work for Jim Beam. All of Makers Mark bourbon is made by Makers.

  48. rixter
    10:14 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Why don’t those hicks just add some more production equipment? With less alcohol, I’m assuming they will cut the price also, right? No?
    Fortunately for us, there are plenty more good bourbons out there.

  49. UKnowMe
    10:30 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    47 Agreed

    The only use I used to have for Maker’s was to flask into football games now I prefer Elijah Craig or Four Roses for that. If I am at home it is just Booker’s or on special occasions a couple bottles of Pappy I have stashed away.

  50. Bluecat
    10:54 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Ladies & Gentlement, There is no finer bourbon on the market then
    Woodford Reserve. Having been employed at Brown-Forman for more than forty-two years I can honestly attest to this.

  51. coolioo
    10:54 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Pappy is just weller. No living pappy even knows how to run a distillery

  52. Marion County
    11:39 pm February 10, 2013 Permalink

    Forget Makers! Evan Williams rocks!

  53. Not Aaron Fleener
    12:33 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Who needs bourbon? Me and my friend split a 6 pack of mikes hard lemonade and sh*t starts to get craaaaaazzzzyyyyy

  54. James K
    8:58 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    #$%& THAT. Chris, let’s play HoopFever!

  55. zeno
    9:13 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Four Roses (all three types) are much better than MM. You should know that Bill Samuels is personally a big UofL fan. It goes beyond donating money: UofL is his team, and he doesn’t care for UK. The UK bottles are just a way to make money.

  56. Taylor
    10:17 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Woodford Reserve is better anyway.

  57. The Dude
    10:58 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Maker’s has quickly become a novelty, something people from outside the culture think is the gold standard of bourbons, but really it’s just about the bottling. I like Maker’s, but the truth is, it’s way overpriced for the product. There are plenty of other options out there at a better price point that are better for both sipping and mixing. It’s unfair to compare Maker’s with a product like Budweiser, but as with beer, the good bourbon is available elsewhere. Hell….get yourself a bottle of Bulleit and let Maker’s dig its own grave.

  58. Go Cats
    11:37 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    #7…Wrong…nothing at Wild Turkey is worth drinking

  59. uklagdo
    11:40 am February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Maker’s is unusual in that it has no Rye in the mash which is why a lot of people like it.

  60. coolioo
    1:13 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Bulleit is fake brand made by a British company that buys it from random places and tricks consumers. Only Heaven Hill and Brown Forman are locally owned producers anymore!