Say it ain’t so, Maker’s Mark… say it ain’t so!
Dang. It’s so.
The rumors are true. Maker’s Mark has chosen to water down its whisky, decreasing the alcohol content of the incredibly popular bourbon by three percent, simply in order to keep up with demand. While I’m more of a Jim Beam man — Baker’s small batch in particular — it’s hard to go wrong with the liquid bronze that flows forth from limestone waters of Loretto, Kentucky at the Maker’s Mark Distillery.
Bourbon has enjoyed an spike in popularity over the last several years. I’d like to pat myself on the back for being partly responsible. I’m known to start trends like that. I’m also under the impression that I invented P90X before it was called P90X. I just couldn’t figure out how to get dudes to take ballet in addition to weight training and plyometrics. (Stupid yoga, why couldn’t you be more obvious 12 years ago?)
The real reason for an increase in bourbon consumption? Emerging markets and international popularity. See, that’s not as exciting as my delusions of grandeur.
Bourbon is a unique American spirit. To be considered bourbon, it must be produced in the United States. Most Scotch and Irish Whisky manufacturers rely on America’s bourbon producers for their used, charred oak barrels.
In regards to bourbon production, it’s not uncommon to add water to the mix once it has been aged and released and filtered from the barrel. This is in order to find a consistent alcohol content for the batch.
What all this means to you, the Maker’s Mark lover: Don’t feel like you’re getting ripped off by Maker’s, when the content drops from 45 percent to 42. You’ll barely notice any difference, and you may not at all. The flavor should remain similarly complex.
I’m choosing to be patriotic: I’m thrilled an American-made product is selling well the world over. That’s refreshing these days. However, if you’re wanting something of comparable price with a little more gusto, give the Jim Beam Black Label a shot, or up your ante to Maker’s 46.
If you want to jump ship — and test your manhood — consider Booker’s, of the Beam small batch variety. And if you want a very special treat, consider one of the three options within Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, which have become increasingly difficult to get your hands on. Whatever you do, don’t stress about a little bit of water in your bourbon. A splash here and there will even help to release some of the more complex flavors.