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cowdery
01-31-2006, 18:36
When last summer it became apparent that Jim Beam was making a play to buy Maker's Mark, my first question was how would this affect Knob Creek (a Beam product). How do you differentiate those two brands in your portfolio? Common sense told me that Beam wasn't planning to buy Maker's just to strangle it and make life easier for Knob. They saw it as a horse they could ride.

We don't know the full answer yet, but here is a telling clue. Fortune Brands, Jim Beam's parent, sends out press releases all the time for all manner of reasons. Like all corporate press releases, theirs always end with a piece of corporate boilerplate succinctly describing the company.

As boilerplate, it is always the same, but changes occur from time to time when there are significant changes in corporate alignment or priorities. Several years ago, Knob Creek bourbon was added to the short list of Jim Beam Brands Co. (JBBC) products, the only American whiskey on the list besides Jim Beam itself.

On September 30, 2005, in a release announcing regulatory approval of the Maker's acquisition, that section of the release read like this: "Jim Beam Brands Worldwide, Inc. is the company's spirits and wine business. Major spirits and wine brands include Jim Beam and Knob Creek bourbons, Sauza tequila, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, DeKuyper cordials, Starbucks(TM) Coffee Liqueur, Laphroaig single malt Scotch, Vox vodka and Clos du Bois and Geyser Peak wines."

Sauza, Canadian Club, Courvoisier, Laphroaig and Clos du Bois were all part of the Allied Deal, along with Maker's. Although those brands were new, the rest of the statement read pretty much the way it had for some time, probably since the Starbucks launch early last year.

Now, however, that section reads like this: "Jim Beam Brands Worldwide, Inc. is the company's spirits and wine business. Major spirits and wine brands include Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons, Sauza tequila, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, DeKuyper cordials, Starbucks(TM) Coffee Liqueur, Laphroaig single malt Scotch, Vox vodka and Clos du Bois and Geyser Peak wines."

So, there you are.

TNbourbon
01-31-2006, 18:53
Chuck, you sent me looking at www.jimbeambrands.com, and Maker's is now also prominent in their brands mural atop the page. And, in the attachment below, they seem to have moved mention of Knob Creek to align it more singly with the Small Batch Collection, as in "Knob Creek bourbon and the Small Batch Bourbon Collection" (see top of Page 4).
Certainly good news for fans of Maker's Mark, it seems.
Also, I note the corporate name has changed to Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc.

Gillman
01-31-2006, 20:24
I am not sure yet of the exact proportion, but I would advise Beam Global Brands to consider a new brand, one that combines Maker's Mark (wheated) bourbon with one of its traditional rye recipe bourbons. Beam Black and Maker's 1:1 say, call it Mack Black.

Gary

gr8erdane
01-31-2006, 20:28
I guess Black Mark would never pass muster....

ProofPositive
01-31-2006, 23:05
Certainly good news for fans of Maker's Mark, it seems.

As a longtime fan of MM, this does appear to be good news.....and, hope it stays that way.

ProofPositive
01-31-2006, 23:08
I guess Black Mark would never pass muster....

Doubt it would.....but, what about Jim Baeker's Mark? Best to put the 'e' in there to avoid conflict with the former evangelist/ex-con.

pepcycle
02-01-2006, 10:18
How about Makers Bakers or vica versa?
Even Make Book might fly for the gamblers.
OK this is silly.
I'll stop.
:rolleyes:

cowdery
02-01-2006, 14:05
"...playing to the double-entendre of 'beam' as it relates to light, balance and
structural support."

Oh, really?

Joeluka
02-01-2006, 15:39
Do you think we'll see some new expressions of MM in the future (Single-Barrel, Barrel-Proof....) or do you think Beam will bottle a new wheater for their small batch collection???


Joe

ProofPositive
02-01-2006, 15:41
"...playing to the double-entendre of 'beam' as it relates to light, balance and
structural support."

Oh, really?


Not hard for me to relate Beam to 'structural support'. IMHO, that is what it tastes like.......an old rotting wood post which is helping to barely hold up a delapidated old barn. As to 'light' & 'balance', about the last word to relate those words is Beam......again IMHO.

Now, ask me what I really think of it!

cowdery
02-01-2006, 16:46
As long as Bill Samuels is in the picture I think it will be business-as-usual at Maker's, i.e., not much will change.

elkdoggydog
02-03-2006, 10:11
In business terms, I can't think of a single reason for them to change. I liken it to being a jazz fan (which I am). There are enough of us around to keep the jazz scene going, but very few are getting rich off of it. In music terms, I think Maker's Mark would be the Dave Matthews Band- good, unoffensive, and yet unadventurous. Oh, and they also have a killer brand going that they'd be fools to mess with. Sure would like to see what they could do, though.

cowdery
02-04-2006, 19:47
The way to get rich off jazz or blues is to use elements of them in an otherwise pure pop context, i.e., the Dave Matthews Band. What is pop music, after all, but pop-ified jazz and blues? So, then, how do we complete your analogy?

SBOmarc
02-05-2006, 11:27
As my introduction to bourbon, I had enjoyed only OGD 86 and on special occaisions Dad would spring for Wild Turkey 101. For me the first taste of anything other than those was Makers Mark. It opened me up to everything that I have tasted since. It is after reading some strings and articles on this sight that I realize some very strong a varied opinions Makers inspires catch my interest. I know that I have had it on my bar for quite some time and I will continue to do so. If it is "business as usual", so be it.

I also think to spend that kind of money and have no plans to use the Brand further makes little business sense.

elkdoggydog
02-05-2006, 11:59
I think the analogy is still pretty good- the Dave Matthews Band takes elements of jazz and blues, and makes it more marketable and palatable. For a lot of people, Dave Matthews is their introduction to music that draws heavily on those elements. By the same token, MM is the first "premium" bourbon that a lot of folks try. In both cases, there are many who go on to develop an interest in jazz, or in the myriad other bourbon offerings out there. For the record, I like both Maker's Mark and the Dave Matthews Band. I think they both provide popular access points to realms that don't generally show up on the pop culture radar.

cowdery
02-06-2006, 17:36
I think the main reason Maker's Mark gets shorted a bit by enthusiasts is that we like to try new and challenging things, and Maker's doesn't do specialty bottlings (at least not in terms of the whiskey) nor is it particularly challenging, just the opposite. Personally, I enjoy Maker's and when my bar choices are limited to it, Jim and Jack, it's no contest which I'll have.

Nothing I said should suggest Beam Intergalactic (whatever the new name is) doesn't intend to "use" Maker's Mark. Quite to the contrary, Maker's is profitable and growing and has a terrific brand image. Their main interest is just to keep that going.

I hope and believe they are going to follow the example of Brown-Forman when they bought Jack Daniel's 50 years ago, which is let the people who have been running it keep running it with as little interference as possible. Today the tail wags the dog, as JD is BF's biggest money-maker by far.

I can tell you from first hand knowledge that there are some people in the Beam organization who basically want to dismantle Maker's and get rid of some of the more prominent people in the Maker's camp, out of petty jealousy more than anything else. So far, it appears that cooler heads at the top of the corporation have nipped that in the bud.

I was around when Jim Beam absorbed National Distillers now almost 20 years ago. It was a little like when the Roman army conquered Greece but Greek culture in turn "conquered" Rome. Beam brought in a lot of key, senior National people and it transformed the Beam organization. Now they're doing it again with people from the Allied organization.

Bottom line, for fans of Maker's Mark, I think it's safe for now.

wku88
02-06-2006, 20:52
The old saying holds water here:
If you can only do one thing, make sure you do it well.

So what if Maker's doesn't do specialty bottlings? The bourbon stands on it's own. Now, when I get a bottle out of my Ambassador barrel, mebbe I'll change my mind, but the single Maker's rendition is fine for me right now. It's different than anything out there, and by golly, if it hits the lowest common denominator for it's price point, so be it. Bottom line is a lot of folks like it, and Beam would be foolish to try and change that. Not everyone wants or needs a more expensive or more complex pour.
Variety is the spice of life, and if I want something different than MM, I have lots to choose from. Just don't take the original MM away as a choice.

barturtle
02-06-2006, 21:24
Todd, there's a Todd who's name is on the same barrel plate as mine, is it you by any chance? Barrel 479017.
2310

NorCalBoozer
02-07-2006, 17:36
the easiest, no brainer release for me regarding MM is to give us the higher proof black wax.

they already have the "premium image" so i think releasing the higher proof in the US would be quite cost effective and easy to do/sell if they want to get in more on the super premium bourbon market.

SBOmarc
02-07-2006, 18:13
the easiest, no brainer release for me regarding MM is to give us the higher proof black wax.

they already have the "premium image" so i think releasing the higher proof in the US would be quite cost effective and easy to do/sell if they want to get in more on the super premium bourbon market.

I so hope that someone from MM reads these posts. The message should be clear. The Red Wax will always sell. If they ever decided to market other versions using that brand all or most of us on this board would taste it and I dare say buy it.

TNbourbon
02-07-2006, 18:23
the easiest, no brainer release for me regarding MM is to give us the higher proof black wax.

they already have the "premium image" so i think releasing the higher proof in the US would be quite cost effective and easy to do/sell if they want to get in more on the super premium bourbon market.

I don't know -- it seems a bit dangerous to me for MM to put out a 'premium' version domestically. That would be a little bit like admitting they aren't that already. And -- whether you like MM or not -- let's face it, it's pretty expensive 6yo bourbon. Might not be a good idea to give customers already paying a premium price the idea that they're not getting the 'good stuff'.

wku88
02-07-2006, 18:27
Todd, there's a Todd who's name is on the same barrel plate as mine, is it you by any chance? Barrel 479017.
2310


Nope, My barrel is 555003... I put "Gipson's Reserve" on it so I could share it with my dad and Brother (last name).

NorCalBoozer
02-08-2006, 14:12
Tim, that might be just the reason to do it! MM sells the MM lifestyle, not the bourbon in the bottle (or all that other junk they drop in wax). It's decent bourbon, but not great (IMO). I drink it from time to time, almost like I like to enjoy a bud light from time to time.

I think that if you added the black and just said it was Makers Mark Limited all the people who are buying this overpriced MM bourbon based on it's image wouldn't mind spending a bit more to try the "best of the best". I mean they actually already have the VIP, which is basically regular Makers, and people seem to buy that without understanding what's inside other than gold wax and a nameplate. I bet 90% of people who buy the gold actually think its better/different bourbon than the regular red. Maybe swap the black for the VIP????


Might not be a good idea to give customers already paying a premium price the idea that they're not getting the 'good stuff'.

cowdery
02-08-2006, 16:59
Last year at WhiskeyFest Chicago, Dave Pickerell did a presentation (he's the distiller at Maker's) in which one of the things he gave us to taste was Maker's at, I think, ten years old. Maybe it was twelve.

Whatever it is, they are right not to sell it. If you doubt that 'older is not always better,' this will convince you.

NorCalBoozer
02-08-2006, 17:09
interesting Chuck. *Generally*, it seems that more age gives bourbon better flavor (up to a limit of say 20 years).

I've had some decades old MM and it blows today's out of the water. I wonder if age wasn't the reason, then what the main difference is? do they also have a higher entry proof today?

is the black wax just higher proof? or is it also aged longer than the red?

kbuzbee
02-09-2006, 14:22
Last year at WhiskeyFest Chicago, Dave Pickerell did a presentation (he's the distiller at Maker's) in which one of the things he gave us to taste was Maker's at, I think, ten years old. Maybe it was twelve.

Whatever it is, they are right not to sell it. If you doubt that 'older is not always better,' this will convince you.

So.... What did it taste like???

Ken

barturtle
02-09-2006, 17:09
This may be one of the problems with barrel rotation. When talking to Jimmy Russell, he mentioned that for the Tribute, he had put those barrels in a specific slow-aging portion of the warehouse. IIRC they start out all Makers barrels at the top floor and rotate down(this is assuming that all the barrels are actually rotated). If that barrel of older Makers had followed that regime, but had simply been left in each place longer then they purposely ruined it. Whereas if they had left it in a slower maturing area (I'm guessing low and centered) it likely would have faired much better.

cowdery
02-09-2006, 23:48
MM probably can make an older whiskey that tastes good. In Chicago, the master distiller selected a sample that would make his point.

I don't necessarily think bourbon gets better flavor after about eight years, but it definitely gets a different flavor that only comes from extra age, and which can be quite wonderful.

cowdery
02-10-2006, 15:41
So.... What did it taste like???

Ken

It was bitter.

wku88
02-10-2006, 23:23
I don't necessarily think bourbon gets better flavor after about eight years,

To which I will add my lament of the loss of the old 8yr/86 proof standard... Can we get it back?

ThomasH
02-11-2006, 15:56
I think Maker Mark should come out with a barrel strength version, similar to Bookers,Stagg etc. at whatever age they deem to be the optimum for the brand. Beam is a big enough organization and can afford the gamble.

Thomas