“You spoke, we listened,” reads the tweet posted by Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels this afternoon. Admitting a mistake is never easy, especially in the macho work of making bourbon. But the mistake was made around this time last week when Samuels announced that he was dropping the iconic brand’s alcohol volume to meet rising demands.
It was widely read (and criticized) as a move to “water down” the product — to squeeze out additional profits. In a statement, Samuels calls the decision “humbling” and that “the focus was on the supply problem that led to us focusing on a solution.” He added that “we got it totally wrong.”
In the statement, Samuels vows that “effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.”
As we mentioned in our earlier story, we’re confident that the change of proof would have resulted in a minimal change, and that this was more of an issue of perception rather than shifting flavor profiles. But clearly the weekend brought the proverbial “soul searching” for the Maker’s executives and the right decision was made. We respect their ability to shorten the news cycle on this, before things got ugly.
So, some lessons learned: 1. Being nimble and “humbled” will win your brand brownie points every time. 2. If you like Maker’s Mark, make sure to stash an extra bottle because we’re clearly in the midst of a scarcity. 3. If you can’t find Maker’s, there’s a lot more to check out.