View Full Version : Makers Mark Ambassadors?

09-13-2006, 19:07
I signed up for this when I first started drinking Bourbon. I got a call last week asking me if I would be willing to be part of a "focus" group in a couple weeks. It's 1.5 hours and they pay me $75.00. I am supposed to bring an add or photo or object that symolizes how I feel about Makers, and then they will ask me questions about how I feel about the product?
Any of you ever done one of these? Any of you Seattle area folks part of this as well?
Though there are many Bourbons I enjoy more than Makers at this point, I figure I will go ahead and give it a go...might be interesting?

09-13-2006, 19:45
I would participate gladly. These groups will always listen, they are hired by Maker's to determine what is working and sometimes what they hope will work. Go, be honest and let Mr Samuels know that although we enjoy his product, he has some work to do if he wants us to keep on doing so.

Nothing wrong with that.

09-13-2006, 20:22
I have a few thoughts to share with them. I will do my best to sample some of my Makers regularly so that I can be better educated when I go in.
Just like reading other's tasting notes...when I taste a Bourbon I can "taste" the suggestions that people have given me to add to my own meager taste's. If any of you have good "suggestions" that might help me...offer them up. I will let you all know how it goes...I don't go in until 9/21.

09-13-2006, 21:30
Todd - I'm a member of the Ambassadors (and in Seattle area). I was not asked or invited. Guess they must know how I really feel about Makers!

I think you should definitely go and let them know they need to make the product taste like it tasted in early 70s again!

09-13-2006, 21:56
Hmmmm....I have never had any Makers from the 70's, how has it changed? Give me some more info!!!
I am curious as to what they will ask? They want me to bring a photo...add...or object that best describes what I think of Makers...I find it smooth, nice flavor...maybe a little dry? Does that make sense? I tend to like the heavier rye bourbons more, the spice...
Has Makers always aged their Bourbon for the same approx time?
I will try it side by side with some of my favorites to come up with a better-rounded picture. I guess just because it is not my favorite does not mean they are "missing" their target...I know my father-in-law has drank it for years without wavering.

09-13-2006, 22:06
Yes, how is it now different than in the early 70's? I have been drinking maker's for nearly 20 years, and the most impressive thing I have found in it is how consistent it is. Very good from bottle to bottle. Wow, if it was better in that era, I'm sorry I missed it. What made it better then?


09-13-2006, 23:06
I too am a member, but I don't think I was invited to the focus group.

09-14-2006, 01:30
I'm an ambassador....let them know I'm pissed that it isn't 90 proof over here in Australia :smiley_acbt: ******* 86 proof!

09-14-2006, 09:00
To my growing tastes, Maker's tastes younger than the version I tasted in the early 80's. That may be the chief complaint.

09-14-2006, 12:19
Hmmmm....I have never had any Makers from the 70's, how has it changed? Give me some more info!!!


I read a review recently where a gentleman from BourbonEnthusiast.com had an old bottle of MM and a recent one. The conclusion was that today's product is distilled at a higher proof and not aged as long.

When you go in there tell them they could make a tall stack of cash if they came out with a "Maker's Mark Single Barrel 12 year old 105 proof".
They could name their own price and it would be paid by all.

09-14-2006, 22:02
The marketing slogan is they make all they can and sell all they make. But the consensus is over the years, to ramp up production, they have increased the distillation proof and perhaps maybe not aged as long.

They also say they only make one type, but they do make other proofs for exports markets.

I have tried Makers from the 70's with a bottle made in 2005 and there was difference.

Since it is a wheater, maybe you should take a wheat stalk or if you want to be hornery, take a bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle 15/10 as your object :slappin:

09-15-2006, 20:50
I'm pretty sure the old VIP bottles used to be 101 proof, altough I could be wrong. I have a VIP bottle I got in 2002 and it's 90 proof. I know the gold wax euro bottles were 101.

09-16-2006, 08:30
I would be very interested to see some product variation. An older age, barrel proof bottling would be great. As an added bonus, MM would be able to distribute it everywhere that traditional MM is sold (ie: grocery stores, plain jane liquor stores, etc).

09-16-2006, 10:15
I have some friends who drink one brand of what ever liquor they enjoy. They have found something they enjoy and that's all there is to it. I am guessing they would not be the types to come to a forum like this, where the interest is much broader.

I love food and drink...the different flavors and textures and smells. I would be sad if I had to drink the same thing every night just as I would if I had to eat the same thing every night.

Obviously a huge amount of alcohol is sold across the world, I wonder if more people are the one-brand drinkers, or if more enjoy a wider variety? I have more friends who drink the same bottle regularly than I do those who like a variety...is that true for you all as well?

There are those bottles I won't see because they are old and not made any more, but if they are still made, I will strive to try them all one day. I have found some that I really enjoy more than others. I try to keep one of those on hand for special times. But when one of my other bottles gets empty I try and find something new to taste to replace it. Maybe a "new" version of Makers would become one of those "special" bottles for me?

So I am of the opinion that I would love to see and older, barrel proof version as well and will pass that along. It will be interesting anyway, and heck, $75.00 for an hour and a half...not a bad gig. And I should be willing to be connected with an industry I get so much enjoyment from.


Hedmans Brorsa
09-16-2006, 11:43
I'm pretty sure the old VIP bottles used to be 101 proof, altough I could be wrong. I have a VIP bottle I got in 2002 and it's 90 proof. I know the gold wax euro bottles were 101.

I think you´re confusing two different bottlings. The Vip one, as far as I can tell, has always been 90 proof. The gold wax, on the other hand, is 101 proof and is intended for the Japanase market, not Europe. The only ones I´ve seen here have been expensive imports from Japan.

09-17-2006, 08:35
Wish, they'd ask me. I'd love to participate.

And I'd bring a sample from my aging barrel. yummm....


09-18-2006, 13:51
I have more friends who drink the same bottle regularly than I do those who like a variety...is that true for you all as well?

So what about this question? My neighbors for the most part drink beer. They go through pretty long runs with one favorite, and then move on to another. My friends that drink Spirits for the most part drink the same thing and have for years. They will venture out when they come over for dinner, but in their own home, it's the same bottle all the time. And I would say that is true of 90% of my buddies who drink something other than beer.
Even if I could afford to have Bookers and Stagg every night, I think I still like to try other bottles. I really have found something to enjoy in all the bottles of Bourbon I have tried so far. Of course I have many more to go...

09-18-2006, 15:38
To some extent this is generational, younger people tend to be more exploratory, older people tend to be more brand loyal. But when I say "generational" I don't necessarily mean age-related. There is some evidence in the trends that a growing number of people are becoming life-long enthusiasts. Many of us here (such as me) are in -- oh, let's just say "late middle age" -- and haven't abandoned the exploration of different whiskeys, beers and other things as well.

This has been a big change for the industry as well, which is only just learning how to market to enthusiasts. Even when they started some of the premium brands, they were still of the headset that you would become "a Knob Creek drinker" or "a Woodford Reserve drinker," and Maker's Mark is very much in that mold. Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill, on the other hand, have gotten fairly adept at catering to the enthusiast who constantly wants something new to experience. Others, such as Brown-Forman, are starting to get the knack of it too.

As for Maker's Mark, they are somewhat constrained by their own success. In addition to operating at capacity and selling everything they can make, they fear that extending the brand would tend to cannibalize the current brand. Their logic is pretty sound. Since they are positioning MM as a top-of-the-line whiskey, they can't very well come up with topper of the line whiskeys. Of course, it's like everything else. They absolutely won't do it until they do. They offer different expressions in some non-U.S. markets, for example.

I can imagine down the road that their parent company may use some of its capacity to produce some enthusiast products and entrust their marketing to the Maker's organization rather than the Beam organization (which has a nasty tendency to price hack the profit out of things). They wouldn't/couldn't position it as a product of the Maker's Mark distillery, but could perhaps position it as "Bill's selections" of good whiskey from "other sources," which would allow them to sell rye-recipe bourbon, straight rye, and maybe straight wheat if Bernheim Original has enough success to warrant imitation.

The still at MM is designed specifically and uniquely to make wheated bourbon and might make an especially good straight wheat whiskey too.

Something that is in the cards is another expansion. A few years ago, MM doubled its capacity by essentially building a duplicate distillery behind the showpiece one you see on the tour. In the not too distant future they will have, in effect, a third distillery on the premises. They are in the process now of raising their dam to bank more water from their spring.

In other words, "never say never."

09-21-2006, 21:05
I went to my Makers Mark Ambassador "focus group" this evening. It was at a local marketing research facility. I understand that they have been meeting with groups all week.

My group had 4 people, all men. It was a nice set up. A bottle of Makers to treat yourself to a drink and a platter of meat and cheese. We were told the meeting was being taped and behind the big one-way mirror was a video camera with a couple folks monitoring.

The discussion lasted for 1 1/2 hours. They focused on a couple things.

The first was our perception of Makers in the market place. We were asked to chart Makers, JD, Jim Beam, Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve on 2 axis. One axis began with seldom and ended at frequent, the other began at casual and ended with special occasion. We were asked to place each bottle where we thought the public's perception was...not our own feelings of the taste. We talked about whether we offer Makers to friends, family and strangers...how do we present the product to people.
They had several cards with statements and photos and we were asked to pick a couple that best characterize why we drink Makers. There was more discussion around how we see Makers and how we were first introduced to it.

The next big subject was the Ambassador program itself. How did we feel about it and the opportunities it might present to us. Why did we sign up as Ambassadors in the first place. One of the topics in that area was the Barrels that we can put our names on. They asked what we thought might come with the notice that "our" barrel was done. They had some interesting "paths" for the Ambassadors.
Would we:
1) like to be invited back to the Distillery for a special seminar on the making of Makers
2) like to be more involved with Marketing the product.
3) like to have more local Ambassador events such as dinners where someone spoke about Makers.
4) like training in mixology and the making of drinks with Makers.

I actually enjoyed myself. I tried to be as honest as possible. I let them know that Makers was not my "favorite" but that I did enjoy it. I think the other 3 guys were Makers or nothing. One guy even said if he went out to dinner and they did not have Makers he would just have a rum and coke.

At one point when the interviewer was asking about why we like Bourbon, among other things, I brought up that it was the true American Drink. He asked if that mattered and everyone said that actually it did. They enjoyed the fact that "Bourbon" was American. It was something to be proud of. I then added that it miffed me that being the "American Liquor" many of the Distilleries, including Makers, offered special bottling's overseas that we do not have access to here. I was told that Makers has discontinued their "Black Wax" bottle available in Japan?

In the end, one of the things we all agreed we would like to see would be that Makers would have occasional local "events" where a representative from the distillery would come and maybe give a talk while we enjoyed some food and drink.

As we left we were handed $75 cash and a gift bag that contained a couple "dipped" Makers glasses, a "dipped" pen, some Makers flavored cherry's and gourmet sauce and a Makers note pad.

My personal feeling is that it is nice to see Makers does not appear to be taking for granted what ever they perceive their position to be, and their concern with the Ambassador program shows to me they care about the people who identify themselves as customers, not just attracting new customers.

All in all I had a good time and enjoyed myself and met 3 nice guys, not a bad evening.

09-21-2006, 23:48
Todd - Thanks for posting this!

09-22-2006, 08:59
I am glad to know that Makers took an interest in what their consumers thought. I find it nice to know that they have done it in a demographic than KY, kinda get a more diverse sample.

I am curious, I saw what you said about oversea's bottlings, but did you bring up barrel proof over aged bottlings?

09-22-2006, 14:48
Thanks also for communicating some of the same ideas that I would have wanted to convey.

09-22-2006, 20:00
Considering that my serious enjoyment of spirits began with a wide variety of Scotches, it shouldn't be too surprising that my love of variety has continued into bourbon, rye, gin, and cocktails as well.

IMHO, I've given MM short shrift. I've certainly enjoyed it when I've had it, but there are a whole lot of other lovely pours out there as well. I need to revisit it. ;)

I would definitely not fit into the "brand-loyal" category - variety is the spice of life, as far as I'm concerned - though if we expand the concept of "brand" a bit, BT has been a favorite of mine (BT itself, GTS, VG, Weller, Sazerac, etc.).

09-22-2006, 20:18
I am curious, I saw what you said about oversea's bottlings, but did you bring up barrel proof over aged bottlings?

He asked us if we had put our names on any barrels. My reply was "no" and I explained that I did not see any real advantage to it since they don't just bottle from "my barrel" but combine it with many others.
I told him that I thought there would be more interest if we could put our name on a barrel that would be aged longer or bottled at a higher proof or even as a single barrel version...I also told them all about SB.com and that if the folks there were any indication I thought of course there would be a market for that.

Nothing they brought up gave any indication of that they were looking in that direction...

The main focus (besides the perception questions) was on these potential Ambassador "tracks" or "specialties", and if we would be interested in get togethers that did not take place in KY.

It would have been very interesting to talk to the other three guys there. We all had the one thing in common, we like Makers. Then they were quite different than myself. 2-Company presidents and an Alarm system technician. One of the presidents is also a boxing promoter and promotes 3 boxers around the U.S. I enjoy meeting people but my time is so limited. I said I could see going once a year to a local Ambassador event for dinner and drinks and some type of presentation.

09-22-2006, 20:24
I would definitely not fit into the "brand-loyal" category - variety is the spice of life, as far as I'm concerned -

Ditto! I like the quote from that Bourbon movie guy who was at the fest with all of you...there are no bad Bourbons, only better Bourbons. Ok...it might be a slight stretch but for the most part in my limited experience I agree.

09-23-2006, 19:04
I could do with an extra $75 and would agree to give it all back.

Mr. Richard A Bales

110122 3/27/2002

Yep my name is on a brass plate too. They should be getting ready to move me down stairs.

09-23-2006, 19:47
Hmm, had to have them send me my password and such to figure out how to log in to the Ambassadors site.

Barrel # 479017 Not so sure about the date, but the forum is dated 4/02/02.

...looking at my Makers "business cards" reveals a join date of 6-5-2001. Wonder if it took them almost a year to put my name on a barrel?

09-27-2006, 10:41

Thanks for the information, the idea of focus groups for MM drinkers is not new but intresting. It may not be the purpose of the group but I think it would be great to meet other folks in my area who enjoy similar tastes and listen the the thought process of why they drink what they do.

I do not go with the brand loyalty thing but do keep a bottle or two of MM in the house at all times along with 4 or 5 other types of bourbon. Sometimes I am in the mood for makers and sometimes I need a Van Winkle or Blanton's.

I have been an ambassador since 2001 and did do the name on the barrel gimmick. Local visits by a representative of the company would be great. I know they have happy hours but I would be more interested in a discussion with a distiller and other enthusiasts where I can learn more about the process and art of making the bourbon.

Thanks again for the feedback on your focus group.



09-27-2006, 13:21
I've been a MM Ambasador for a couple of years now... It'd be interesting to know how many Internationnal Ambasadors there are.
If there was an official function held on the East Coast of Australia, I'd definately try to attend.

09-27-2006, 14:16
I've been an ambassador since 7/1/2002. This was about the time I decided I was going to get some collectable Maker's stuff, and when my bourbon collecting really took off. I got a signed 1L 9/11 bottle and a signed VIP bottle. I was friends with my rep when MM was distributed by Suntory, and after they lost Makers to Swift & Moore he gave me some pretty cool things, like a barrel bung, makers dipped shotglass and a 1998 KY cigar. He also gave me a branding iron that they had made with the Maker's Mark logo. They used to burn it into wooden boxes and stuff for shop displays, it's pretty cool.There may or may not be some MM logos on telegraph poles near my house :skep: They had 2 made and gave one of them to Bill when he came out. He also had some bottles of white dog which I have to ring him about, wouldn't mind having those :grin:

12-09-2006, 18:07
Got a Surprise in the mail today from Makers Mark. They sent out what they call a "Party Kit". It consists of a small stainless shaker with Makers Mark printed on it in red, a set of red Makers Mark cocktail napkins and a small holiday card with a recipe for a Bourbon High ball.

The recipe is interesting:

1 1/2 oz. Makers Mark
1/4 oz. white Dekuypers creme de cacao
1/4 oz. DeKuyper Hazelnut Liqueur
Top with Cream
Shake and serve over ice
Garnish with chocolate shavings

Not a bad little thank you holiday treat for their Ambassadors


12-09-2006, 20:10
Todd - I received the same thing from Makers Mark today. I'm have neither Dekuypers creme de cacao or their hazelnut liqueur, so I'll just drink some Makers by itself tonight.

12-09-2006, 22:49
I don't happen to have any either but it sounds like something my wife might like...I make her a drink called a Gingerbread man she loves...it has Kahlua, Baileys and Goldschlager...a little sweet for me but she likes it...and when mommas happy, everyone is happy.


12-10-2006, 00:57
It's synergy. DeKuyper is owned by Maker's new parent, Beam Global Spirits and Wine.

12-14-2006, 13:40
I only became an Ambassador after the Beam buyout. I went poking around the site yesterday, my Barrel " StraightBourbon.com BobbyC" hasn't been so named yet. It was nice to see that the little shaker they sent us is a 19.95 item at the giftshop,Thanks!