If you are a Chicago Bulls fan, you know that one of team announcer, Stacey King’s favorite lines is “Hold On Player” Whenever an opposing player tries to pull a fast one by the team, King will give his patented catchphrase “Hitting you with H.O.P.” It’s a way of holding them in check, a way of letting them know ‘not so fast’. Which brings me to Maker’s Mark’s attempt to pull a fast one past their consumers. In a little over two weeks’ time Maker’s Mark announced that they were suffering a shortage of whiskey due to an increase in worldwide demand then back tracked and said never mind. The whiskey business is booming and in age were we are seeing every distillery and company come out with it’s own limited collection, signature collection and rare bottling Maker’s has remained consistent.
In fact Maker’s 46 is the brand’s only off shoot bottling. That consistency has gained Maker’s a very dedicated and loyal fan base. So they did not take the news lightley. Even enthusiast who aren’t particularly fond of Maker’s saw it as a sign of disrespect from the Beam Inc. owned company. Whether lowering the proof varied the taste or not the product in the end was going to be cheapened but I assure you the price would of stayed the same.
But alas the people over at Maker’s knew they were in for some backlash and this would not be an easy transaction like Jack Daniels had years back. So COO Rob Samuels did the smartest thing he could do and that was to not go forth with water down whiskey. Here is the message posted on the Maker’s Mark website.
You spoke. We listened.
Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.
You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.
So 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.
The unanticipated dramatic growth rate of Maker’s Mark is a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages. We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.
Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.
We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created. Same recipe. Same production process. Same product.
As always, we will continue to let you know first about developments at the distillery. In the meantime please keep telling us what’s on your mind and come down and visit us at the distillery. It means a lot to us.
Rob Samuels Bill Samuels, Jr
Chief Operating Officer Chairman Emeritus
In the end Maker’s turned what could have been a very big mistake into a mere P.R. misstep. In this day of social media it is important for those who have truly invested vast amounts of time and hard earned money to voice their concerns. Maker’s tried to slip one by their consumers but enough people banded together and hit the company with the ‘Hold On Player’