A couple of weeks ago, I brought to you the news that three 102-year-old bottles of scotch—long lost in Antarctica after being left behind by explorer Ernest Shackelton—were returned to their icy home and reburied without anyone getting the chance to drink them. This was really lame, I said, because the scotch would be the oldest ever aged, and it could theoretically be the best in the world. It needed, no, deserved to be sipped. Think of the party where the scotch could have been polished off! It definitely would have taken place in a lodge that looks like the Super Adventure Club, and I'm envisioning everyone there wearing a monocle and/or a Panama hat. The event of the year, for sure.
Well, it turns out I was 100% wrong about the tastiness of the whisky. (Thanks, comment section.) Scotch only matures when it sits in oak barrels. Spending a century on ice and in a glass bottle did nothing to make Shackleford's whisky any better. It probably just tasted dusty.
This bit of news about a similar high-profile liquor is, however, 100% true. And it's sad.
Maker’s Mark just got a little less stiff. The bourbon brand, known for its bottles sealed with red wax, told customers today that it’s reducing the amount of alcohol in the beverage in order to meet rising global demand.
In an email today to loyal customers, Beam executives said the company had decided that the only way to keep up with demand was to make its bourbon less strong, stretching the current supply. ”We’ve worked carefully to reduce the alcohol by volume (ABV) by just 3%,” the email said.
I’ve reached out to Beam to clarify whether the alcohol is being reduced by 3%, as the email says, or three percentage points, which would be more dramatic. The footer of today’s email suggests it’s the latter, describing Maker’s Mark as a 42% ABV beverage, which is also known as 84 proof; it was previously distilled to 45% ABV, or 90 proof. That would be a 6.7% reduction in the amount of alcohol.
“We have both tasted it extensively, and it’s completely consistent with the taste profile our founder/dad/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr., created nearly 60 years ago,” two of the company’s bourbon heirs wrote in the email. “We’ve also done extensive testing with Maker’s Mark drinkers, and they couldn’t tell a difference.”
BULL. A 6.7% reduction in alcohol will definitely, definitely be tasteable. You're looking at a considerable amount of watering down here. The flavor profile has to change. It has to.
Maker's Mark is a special bourbon. You buy it to celebrate, and when you drop the considerable amount of change it takes to buy it, you sip a glass and really enjoy it. You will be able to taste a difference if they go through with this. And that sucks.