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Issue 110 - Making a Mark

Whisky Magazine Issue 110
March 2013


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Making a Mark

Liza Weisstuch is a Whisky Magazine American contributing editor who writes about travel, business and lifestyle topics for American newspapers and magazines....

By now you've heard all about Maker's Mark's decision in February to lower the proof of their iconic Kentucky Bourbon from 90 to 84 proof in response to soaring demand and waning supply. By now you've heard about the instantaneous indignation that erupted in the blogosphere, social media and mainstream media. You've heard that Maker's overturned its own decision. The email to ‘ambassadors,' members of the brand's popular loyalty program, was signed by Bill Samuels Jr., son of the Bourbon's founder, and his son Rob, chief operating officer. It seemed designed to convey contrition (To paraphrase: We were wrong, you were right, we're listening, sorry we freaked you out). It was framed as an appreciation of its loyal consumers. (“Your trust, loyalty and passion are what's most important.

We realize we can't lose sight of that.”) Headlines hailed the verdict as a victory on par with the end of Prohibition: “Maker's Mark Says It Will NOT Be Watering Down Its Bourbon After Backlash,” (Business Insider) and “Whiskey Lovers Cheer As Maker's Mark Restores Proof” (

I can only speculate, brand loyalty shot through the roof. Every potentially irate imbiber could claim Beam Global's Maker's as their own and have the sense they had a part in preserving the history and integrity of the brand. With that drinking became power.

Still, industry experts and marketing analysts railed. “Did Maker's Mark Commit Brand Suicide?” asked the headline in Forbes Magazine. ...

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