Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Heavy demand forces cut to alcohol content

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IN response to rapidly increasing demand for bourbon, Maker's Mark announced it is reducing the amount of alcohol in the spirit to keep pace with consumer demand.

In an email to its best customers, representatives of the brand said the entire bourbon category is "exploding" and demand for Maker's Mark is growing even faster. Some customers have even reported empty shelves in their local stores, it said.

After looking at "all possible solutions," the total alcohol by volume of Maker's Mark is being reduced by three per cent. Representatives said the change will allow it to maintain the same taste while making sure there's "enough Maker's Mark to go around." It's working to expand its distillery and production capacity, too.

Maker's Mark, made by Deerfield, Ill.-based Beam Inc., said it's done extensive testing to ensure the same taste. It says bourbon drinkers couldn't tell the difference. It also underscored that nothing else in the production process has changed.

"In other words, we've made sure we didn't screw up your whiskey," the note said.

Rob Samuels, chief operating officer and grandson of Maker's Mark founder Bill Samuels Sr., said this is a permanent decision that won't be reversed when demand for bourbon slows down. Samuels said bourbon has gone from the slowest-growing spirits category to the fastest in the past 18 months, driven by growth overseas and demand from younger drinkers. An average bottle of Maker's Mark takes 61/2 years to produce from start to finish, and since the company doesn't buy or trade whiskey, it's been impossible to keep up.

The first bottle of Maker's Mark, with its signature red wax closure, was produced in 1958.

Beam is the second-largest spirits company by volume in the U.S. It also makes Jim Beam, Sauza tequila and Pinnacle vodka. It's still dwarfed by industry-leading Diageo, the London-based maker of Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan and Johnnie Walker.

 

-- Chicago Tribune

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2013 B3

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