The Chairman Emeritus of Maker's Mark blames himself for the company's recent decision to lower the proof of its famous bourbon. Bill Samuels Jr., the son of the founder of Maker's Mark, tells the Courier-Journal he failed to foresee the worldwide surge in demand for Kentucky's famous spirit.
Maker's Mark has announced it will dilute its bourbon from 45 percent alcohol by volume, to 42 percent, so that more whiskey can be bottled to meet demand.
"I was the forecaster in chief around here...I must have been asleep at the wheel," Samuels told the newspaper.
Kentucky is bourbon country. Bar shelves in Louisville are stocked with a crowded field of premium bourbons; the city's Theater Square Marketplace restaurant alone carries close to 170 different brands. So when news trickled out that longtime distillery Maker's Mark plans to water down its bourbon, locals were stunned.
Bourbon has to be aged at least two years — and that's where Maker's Mark got in trouble. Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels says the company simply didn't make enough.
The bad national economy hasn't put a dent in one of Kentucky's signature exports. In fact, bourbon production has increased 115% over the past 13 years, according to Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association.
One of Kentucky’s most famous bourbon distilleries is being sued by current and former employees who claim they were victims of sexual discrimination. Four of the five women suing Maker’s Mark still work at the distillery. The women filing the sexual discrimination suit say they were subject to a hostile and intimidating atmosphere around the bottling line at the distillery in Loretto.