View Full Version : Maker's Mark...good bourbon or gimmick?

04-20-2004, 19:42
i live in an area that is dominated by maker's mark. i like it but most people assume it is the best bourbon around. i strongly disagree. but i am absolutely amazed by the way people will do anything for a "collector's bottle" or some trinket dipped in wax. kudos to their marketing department but how do bourbon afficianados rate maker's mark. i apologize if this issue has been discussed before.

04-20-2004, 20:00
Here in Missouri, we use Maker's Mark to thin paint, polish silver, and kill crabgrass. You mean you can drink the stuff? Just kidding. A lot of bars in my area have only Beam and Makers as call bourbons. I prefer Makers to Beam white label. Many on this site do like it, but find it to be rather bland compared to many similar or lower priced bottlings. Nobody disputes the power of their marketing though as it's top notch. But then maybe there's a reason they have to spend so much?

04-20-2004, 20:04
I don't think Bill Samuels Sr had any gimmickry in mind when he started a defunct distillery back up in 1954. He is the last person to pull that off, for that he has my respect. At the present time Beam , Brown -Forman( Labrot& Graham) or any of the other high rollers( all of them) could build a fire under an old still. Don't hold your breath to see any other up & comer to do that. Makers has distinct brand appeal. Even in Louisville where everyone knows the brand, the billboards on the interstate cry forth with red wax.

Most complaints lodged here regarding Maker's fall like this;
for what it is the price is a little steep. They sell all they can make so no help coming there.

Most would like to see things done with age and proof, a single barrel( Who could afford it if they did?) They would rather ride the same horse home that they won the race with.

Some of their claims are quite a stretch, ie reinventing the premium bourbon catagory. Don't ever believe that Pappy VanWinkle and Jim Beam himself only made rotgut that was passable and would have to wait till the mid 50s to follow Maker's lead.

04-21-2004, 07:55
The answer is YES!!
Good Bourbon, not great, somewhat pricey for a one horse show. Gimmick, YES. They've taken the marketing route as the shortest distance between the rick house and the bank. They deserve credit for being the springboard to premium bourbon for many enthusiasts. I am personally infatuated with the whole Wax Dipped Collectible thing. (A tragic personality flaw hat has me collecting porcelain insulators, Harley Beer, Beer steins, old lab glassware and anything shiny found on the side of the road)
There are distilleries that skip the hype and put out good products. There are distilleries that put out hype and sell crap (Have you tried Old Whiskey River?) Half the fun is being able to tell the difference.

04-21-2004, 09:36
In our non-expert opinion, we would have to agree with the general sentiments that it is good but somewhat overpriced. Tina probably likes it more than I, but I like it quite a bit. I think it has one of the smoother finishes around.

Confession: we have allowed ourselves to fall victim to the gimmickry, too. We have a 375ml bottle that we dipped ourselves on a distillery tour as well as a blue label/white wax bottle signed by Bill Samuels, Jr. Still, when a Maker's Mark fan comes over, they make fun conversation pieces.

I think Bobby's comments above say it best in terms of summarizing all sides of the issue. Actually, I respect the philosophy of sticking with one predictable quality product. It's fun for us bourbon drinkers to try new stuff, but if a single barrel Maker's Mark experiment tanked financially, I bet we would foot the bill with our next purchase of "plain old" Maker's Mark.

As for the wax - I think it looks cool, and it's fine if you're not planning to drink it; however, I find wax covered bottles annoying. Sometimes the pull-tab breaks, wax crumbs fall everywhere, etc. I vote for a test run of waxless MM - how much could that cost? Ditto on EWSB, Bookers, etc.

04-21-2004, 14:05
I'll quote myself from another thread here (not because I like the sound of my own voice, but because my sentiments haven't changed) about Maker's Mark:
It's not bad, not memorable, not cheap. I have to remind myself sometimes to taste it again, because there are many other brands I go to first. And, because I like the small-distillery mystique, its absolutely beautiful physical setting in Loretto, the tall-tale marketing, et al, I am almost always disappointed that it isn't better than it is.

04-21-2004, 17:52
Reading this thread prompted me to pull out my copy of My Autobiography by Bill Samuels, Jr. and review it. When I read it initially about 2 years ago, I thought it sounded more like ad copy than autobiography. Heck, the last quarter is ads. Still, I enjoyed it for the interesting tidbits, some great pictures, and, well...some amusing ads.

After searching here, I find the MM phenomenon even more fascinating. Betty Jo posted an article here (hope I did this link right) that I really enjoyed:

Bettye Jo's Post (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=history&Number=18857&Forum =All_Forums&Words=autobiography&Match=Entire%20Phr ase&Searchpage=0&Limit=25&Old=allposts&Main=18857& Search=true#Post18857)

Thanks, Bettye Jo - VERY interesting!

Having said that, it seems that in a time when marketing triumphs financially, it is up to bourbon enthusiasts to keep up discussion of what represents quality regardless of the marketing. So, I have two questions:

1) If marketing raises bourbon awareness in general, is it redeemed, at least partially, as a "good" thing?

2) Bobby C: what are your thoughts on the taste of MM itself? We know that taste is subjective, but your wisdom and hospitality are exceeded by no one here, in our humble opinion, so we anxiously await your impressions.

Just to clarify once again, we have been sucked in by the marketing of Maker's Mark, so we are posting as "sinners," not "evangelists," when it comes to bourbon marketing.

04-21-2004, 19:40
1) If marketing raises bourbon awareness in general, is it redeemed, at least partially, as a "good" thing?

As long as you got to where you are on the bourbon journey, how it started is less important. The <font color="red"> Red Wax </font> is their version of the Nike Swoosh or the emblem on a Cadillac. They are counting on a new drinker to be overwhelmed by the choices on a good bourbon bar , and for that person to feel confident that choosing the bottle with <font color="red"> Red Wax </font> Puts them clearly in the know and that they are drinking a Premium Bourbon.

2) Bobby C: what are your thoughts on the taste of MM itself? We know that taste is subjective, but your wisdom and hospitality are exceeded by no one here, in our humble opinion, so we anxiously await your impressions.

It is I that is humble now, I appreciate the compliment.

What I said of Makers some time ago (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&amp;Number=8204&amp;page=&amp;view=&amp;sb=5 &amp;o=&amp;vc=1)
As far as the Bourbon goes it is fine and I don't have a problem with it. It seems apparent to me that that their ad budget is massive. That in the end adds to the cost, I would like Makers more if it cost less.

I own several bottles of Makers .Each year since my sons 21st birthday I have given him a VIP Makers. All with the same lettering except his age and the current year. I figure I'll do 10 of them. He still has them all. I got a Seattle Slew bottle for my wife, complained that the store I bought it from stuck me for an extra 3 dollars from the first shipment he got to the second. I felt proud today when I saw them at Liquor Barn for $69.99. I remarked that I wondered if they would buy the one I have, Bad idea, according to Amelia!

As long as Makers bring people to the fold , that's a good thing, If after a trip around the block, one finds they like VanWinkle Bourbons a lot better, or that 12 year Weller is better and cheaper, then that's part of it.

My Grandfather worked for Bill Samuels Sr at TW Samuels. After that was sold he went to Jim Beam. I think he regreted that Bill was out at TW Samuels and wished it had went on. Once at Jim Beam, he never as far as I knew ever regreted being there.

04-22-2004, 06:17
The thing about Maker's Mark is that it has a fine reputation that at one time was well deserved. If you get a chance to open a bottle of Maker's from 20 years ago and taste it against the new Maker's and the difference is night and day. It was so much better back 20 years ago. Very full bodied (not thin like now) with lots of caramel and vanilla making it taste much more like a Van Winkle Stitzel-Weller wheated bourbon, but not quite the same. In that time it was probably one of the best bourbon's made.

What changed? I would say being bought by a corperation with lots of accountants. I would guess barrel proof increased, while time in the barrel decreased. It is still a good bourbon, but not great as it was at one time.

Mike Veach

04-22-2004, 09:31
After sampling your 80's MM at the festival, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that the popularity of brown liquor has forced increased production. (Higher proof in the barrel, shorter aging) In order for MM to get back on track, whiskey needs to become unpopular with the masses again. I suggest a ban on bourbon exports. Could you imagine what would happen to the industry if Japan put a ban on imported spirits?
We'd have more Four Roses Single Barrel than you could shake a stick at.

04-24-2004, 18:25
Makers was an early favorite but I find that the more "better" bourbons I try the less I find MM to live up to its rep. The more I learn the more it seems like marketing, I also tend to agree that it has lost some quality over the years. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Too Bad!!


Master Distiller
06-28-2015, 00:50
I agree that Makers isnt a complex bourbon but then again if it was I may not like it as well as I do now. Makers Mark was actually my favorite bourbon until I tried Blanton's but I still keep Makers on hand and im actually drinking it now. Its my go to bourbon so I dont drink so much of my more expensive bottles. At $29.99 per 750ml I think is a fair price for such a tasty bourbon. I think Makers goes great with bourbon balls, any chocolate for that matter and even though Knob Creek has a strong chocolate nose to me I much more prefer Makers Mark. I enjoy it well enough I have a barrel that will be ready for bottling in a few years and since im purchasing the barrel it will be one of the very few single barrel Makers Marks and it will have my name on every bottle!

06-28-2015, 05:50
Wow. An 11 year old thread gets revived.

06-28-2015, 06:36
Double wow. Just how many bottles do they estimate you'll get from your barrel?

06-28-2015, 09:07
Apart from doing a google search, how does one even find an 11 year old thread?

Also curious about the barrel. Since it won't be ready for a few years, does this mean that you had to select it when it was filled, meaning you haven't tasted what you will be buying, or, do you reserve a future barrel and get to select from a group that you taste before it gets bottled?

06-28-2015, 09:12
As I understand the way it was done a decade ago was you bought a barrel (which you had no hand in selecting) and 5-6 years later got an aged barrel of their choosing. Basically you were buying the right to a barrel in the future but locking it in at today's prices.

06-29-2015, 05:40
Wow. An 11 year old thread gets revived.

Complete with broken internal links because the structure of the forum software has changed! But yeah, usually these threads are auto-locked after a year of inactivity. Interesting phenomenon.

06-29-2015, 06:42
Apart from doing a google search, how does one even find an 11 year old thread?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, look at the "similar threads" section. There are threads down there older than this one.

Not sure why this one wasn't auto locked. Maybe something to do with the tinkering for the new forum software? In any case, kudos to Master Distiller for searching and posting in an existing thread rather than starting a new one.

07-01-2015, 13:10
I love Makers Mark, for the record. Yes, you can do better, but for the price you can do a hell of a lot worse. It's my go-to.

07-01-2015, 14:10
I love Makers Mark, for the record. Yes, you can do better, but for the price you can do a hell of a lot worse. It's my go-to.

When I was Indiana they had Liters on sale for $20 (these are $40 up here) so I picked up a 200ml to make sure I still liked it as it had been a long time and it tasted fine to me. Then I went to a different location for the chain liquor store and saw they had 750ml of MM46 for $20 as well (also $40 up here) so I went with 3 bottles of the MM46 instead of the liter bottles of the standard expression. I haven't had the MM46 in a while either but I recall enjoying it very much at the time.

07-01-2015, 16:11
Maker's is a decent wheater. I know they can make it better because they used to. Remember the gold capsule 101 from the 70's? Great stuff.

07-01-2015, 16:23
Maker's is a decent wheater. I know they can make it better because they used to. Remember the gold capsule 101 from the 70's? Great stuff.

Hell Joe, they all can make it "better". "Better", as in what we 1%er enthusiasts think that is. Problem is, back in those glory days people weren't buying that "better ", and distilleries were going broke and out of business. So , they changed things to give the market what it wanted...and really, still wants.

I'll add, though I enjoy older bourbons as much as the next guy here, I find bourbon produced today as good as ever. Definitely, more consistent. Most are just a lighter style than we saw back in the day.

Mr. Bourbon
07-01-2015, 20:24
The last bottle of MM was dominated by alcohol. Seemed like it was way too young, The whole bottle tasted the same.

I prefer Jim Beam white to MM.

Right now I'm drinking some BT...and makes me not want to even look at a MM bottle!

07-01-2015, 20:41

Right now I'm drinking some BT...and makes me not want to even look at anything else!


amen, u cant beat BT for the price

Master Distiller
07-02-2015, 15:02
When I found this thread on google it said this thread was locked but when I opened it in the tapatalk app it allowed me to post. At anytime I get to go to Makers Mark, recieve VIP treatment, and when my barrel is ready I get to taste it before bottling and if I dont like it I can try others that are ready until I find one I like. However thier tasters taste the bourbon every so often and keep me posted on its progress, im sure if something was wrong with it they would inform me and give me another barrel. Its estamated at 250 750ml bottles with my name on each bottle. It could be a few more bottles or a few less depending on placement in the rickhouse. Im only a 2 hour drive from Makers and many other bourbon distilleries. Im only 35 minutes from Old Pogue Distillery the only bourbon distillery still in operation today in bourbons birthplace, Maysville Ky which back then was Bourbon County Virginia.

07-02-2015, 19:25
MD, when you buy a barrel, do you have the option of letting it age for an extra year or two?

07-02-2015, 19:44
Back to the original question. MM is a gimmick. It will never last. Oh wait, its only been around for 61 years. I bet it becomes popular and is a mainstay in bars across the country.