Maker's Mark cuts proof, not price

Maker's Mark, the premium bourbon with the iconic red wax seal, has reduced the alcohol level of its product from 45% to 42% -- i.e., from 90 proof to 84 proof.

That notification comes in a letter from Rob Samuels, chief operating officer, who says the decision was made because "demand for our bourbon is exceeding our ability to make it, which means we're running very low on supply."

Samuels, who succeeded his father, Bill, as COO in 2011, said the brand's growth over the last 18-24 months has been "significantly greater than we had ever experienced as a brand." He said sales of Maker's to consumers grew about 18% last year.

Bill Samuels said Monday on the company's website that he and his son never considered raising the price of the bourbon even in the face of greater demand.

"We don't want to price Maker's Mark out of reach," he wrote.

What about dropping the price now that the alcohol level has been lowered?

"The value of Maker's Mark isn't set by alcohol volume," Bill Samuels wrote.

Maker's Mark, which is distilled in Loretto, KY, made no mention of changes in its Maker's 46, a more expensive 94-proof offshoot of the main brand that is aged longer inside barrels containing seared French oak staves after the aging in new charred American white oak barrels as required by law to be a true bourbon.


A. Smith Bowman master distiller dies

Truman Cox
FREDERICKSBURG, VA -- Truman Cox, master distiller at the A. Smith Bowman Distillery, died Saturday after a short illness.

His death was announced by Sazerac, the company for which he worked since he joined it in 2004 as lead chemist at its Buffalo Trace Distillery. He became master distiller at  A. Smith Bowman in 2001.

"Truman’s passion for our industry was evident to everyone who knew him and he left a notable and positive mark on our company in the time he was with us," the company said in a statement.    

"Truman will be sadly missed by his many friends at Sazerac and in the industry.  Please keep Truman, his wife Susan, and daughter Emmy in your thoughts and prayers. Funeral arrangements have yet to be determined."