Whisky Magazine Issue 117
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With its instantly recognisable red wax sealed bottle, Maker's Mark has a story to tell
It's easy to get press if you do new innovative things. (But) if you're an old hedgehog doing what it's always done..." Dave Pudlo, Distillery Education Director, master storyteller and the man who very kindly cut short his weekend to show me around Maker's Mark, Loretto, is too damn good at his job to finish the sentence. Instead, eyes alight, he waits (again, kindly) as I begin to unpick the theatre of his metaphor: Nobody - not Pudlo, not Rob Samuels, President and CEO, Greg Davies, master distiller, or the retired and yet ever-present Bill Samuels Jr – really thinks of Maker's Mark as being so familiar as to be unworthy of news.
Familiar, perhaps. Unworthy, no. In fact, Maker's Mark has made good hay from the singularly familiar, its primary selling point being that it has found Bourbon's Holy Grail: namely, since its founder T. William ‘Bill' Samuels Sr., having in 1953 bought and restored the Burkes Spring plant on Star Farm, ceremoniously burnt the family's 170 year old Bourbon recipe, and so precipitated – with the strike of a match, a number of intense bread making experiments, his wife Marjorie Samuels's eye for bottle design, for identity and brand, and some proper start-up help from friends in the know – a super premium wheated Bourbon specifically made, says Pudlo, to ‘taste full flavour, but front tongue and mouth watering'. In other words, and on the advice of luminaries such as Hap Motlow, Jere Beam, Ed Shapira and Pappy Van Winkle, all of whom off...