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Issue 41 - HowMaker'smadeitsMark

Whisky Magazine Issue 41
July 2004

 

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HowMaker'smadeitsMark

WhenTWSamuelsVIfirstproducedMaker'sMarkhewasdismissedasacrackpot.Buthesucceededinchangingtheimageofbourbonforever,andthesectorisstillbenefitingDominicRoskrowreports

TofullyunderstandjusthowrevolutionaryMaker'sMarkwaswhenitwaslaunchedyouhavetogobacknotjust50yearstothattime,butfurtherbackstill.To1946,infact,whentheclassicfilmIt'sAWonderfulLifewasreleased.

“There'sasceneinthatmoviewhenGeorgegoeswithClarenceintoNick'sbar,”saysMaker'sMark'svice-presidentforproductionDavePickerell.“GeorgeorderswhiskeyandNicktakesthebottle–thereisonlyonebottle–fromtheshelfandpourshimawhiskey.

“ThenClarenceasksforamulledwineandtheatmosphereinthebarchanges.Hechangeshismindandasksforaflamingrumpunchinstead.Thepianoplayerstopsplayingandthecrowdpartstoletmenthroughtoremovehim.

“ThenNickleansacrossscowlingandsays‘listen,wesellhardliquorheretomenwhowanttogetdrunkquick.'

“Thatwastheimageofbourbonbackthen.Itwasman'sdrinkfordrinkinginbars.Anditwasasectorinseriousdecline.“Atthattimetherewereabout200distilleriesbuttheywereclosingatarateofaboutoneeverysixmonths.Bourbonsoldabout19millionbottlesbutitwasfallingawayatarate.Wenowsellaboutninemillion.AndinthesecircumstancesBillSamuelsdecidedhewantedtolaunchanewwhiskey.”

BillSamuelsJuniortakesupthestory.

“Truthbetoldifithadbeengoodtimesdadwouldnothavebeenabletobuythedistillery.Itcosthim$36,000.HehadsoldTWSamuelsDistilleryandthenservedinthenavybeforeretiringfromthewhiskybusiness.

“Buthewasgettingundermum'sfeet.Hedecidedtostartmakingwhiskeyagainbuthewasn'tinterestedinusingtheoldfamilyrecipe.”

Soheburntit.Unfortunatelyhemanagedtosetfiretothedrapesandnearlysetfiretooneofhisdaughters.Somewhatindisgra...

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