Maker's Mark mistake becomes a hot collectible
The secondary market scoops up keepsakes as the Samuels family steps away from plans to dilute the bourbon.
On Sunday, Maker's Mark heads Rob Samuels and Bill Samuels Jr. took to Facebook and announced that their plan to preserve supplies of Maker's Mark by watering it down from 45% ABV to 42% was damaging their brand and family's legacy more than they could have imagined.
After more than a week of loud, angry, fan-fueled hangover from their decision, the crux of the statement could be distilled down to seven words: "We're sincerely sorry we let you down."
To collectors, there was no apology necessary. As Bill Samuels Jr. told an interviewer at National Public Radio station WKYU at Western Kentucky University, a “relatively small amount” of the 42% ABV Maker's Mark found its way to a few markets before the Samuels family made its announcement.
“We've had calls coming in here, and it's collectors who are actually looking for the bottles.”
One collector's gain, however, is another's complete waste of time and money. The alcohol policy at online auction site eBay (EBAY) prevents sellers from putting a full bottle of Maker's up for bid, but empties have made their way to the site with starting prices as high as $30. Sellers anticipating the drop to 42% ABV, however, are having a tough time getting folks to pay $3 to take their recycled 45% ABV bottles now that the old formulation is here to stay.
Still, demand for those few remaining 42% bottles is there. The Samuels family told BourbonBlog.com that they're transitioning some of the remaining 42% ABV Maker's back to 45%, but are considering selling some of the remaining 42% bottles in the gift shop of their Loretto, Ky., distillery. In the meantime, the blog MakersMarkBottles.com is pointing fans toward the few remaining 42% bottles they can find.
This isn't exactly new ground for Maker's Mark, which routinely releases specially labeled collector's bottles and has featured on other labels University of Kentucky basketball coaches Rick Pitino and John Calipari and such Cincinnati sports figures as Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason. A keepsake dedicated to one of the biggest headaches in the brand's history, however, is a bit of a first.
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This was either a knee jerk decison on the company or an absolute genius marketing ploy concocted from the beginning. Either way MM is my favorite whiskey. Always will be...
My youngest daughter turned me onto Makers Mark
some years ago and I found it to be one of the finest
whiskeys I have ever had the privilege to consume.
Of course, she was 13 so I had to punish her a little.
I promised to save some for her when she turns 21,
Thank you, Makers Mark, for listening to your customer
base, when so few other companies do. An exceptional
beverage from a wise manufacturer.
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