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View Full Version : Maker's Mark, revisited...



felthove
04-15-2008, 16:36
Maker's Mark was one of the first premium bourbons I tried. Since I jumped into trying new bourbons and reading this board about six months ago I haven't had any MM -- there are just too many unique and interesting bourbons to try.

Yesterday my mother- and father-in-law showed up at my house with a 1.75 L bottle of MM. A kind thing to do -- very generous -- but would I like the stuff now?

I took some neat and was disappointed with how one dimensional and lacking in character it was relative to what I used to think of as a premium spirit. Those of you that have recommended any of the Weller line over MM certainly do know what you're talking about.

I've been skeptical of the MM "haters" that show up now and again but now I really get it. In my mind MM really is nothing special and my bottle will likely used to make some relatively tasty high balls.

full_proof
04-15-2008, 19:47
This thread may be related to the "breakthrough bourbon" thread as I, like you, have gone through the same "maturing" process while reading, and contributing in a diminutive way, to SB.com.

Though not intending to take away from the brand, but perhaps MM, through superb marketing, developed, with the significance of a Wall Street Journal article, into a great start-to whisky for a fledgling bourbonite, or for one who failed to develop an appreciation for bourbon. To be sure, MM has a to-die-for nose, but follows with a taste and finish that does not seriously compare to some of the [more] premium brands that, by intent and design, age in casks longer and have a different mash bill (admittedly, I prefer the higher rye content mash bills, and have tasted but only two other wheaters).

I, like you, can recall the last time I had MM neat, and it was, as you experienced, an unmemorable experience. Thoughts of that banana taste, like Jack Daniels, indelibly remain in my mind. Given the cost, I have some apprehension to mixing it, as I do some of the [more] expensive brands, but I very well may have to relegate this bottling to the same fate.

Slowpoke
04-15-2008, 20:02
Maker's Mark was my first premium bourbon as well. Although I don't drink it much at home anymore, I still have a couple pours a month when I'm at a bar or a restaurant. On the rocks, I still find it pretty tasty, and it's available pretty much everywhere. I consider it my "going out" bourbon.

I have to admit, it was a great feeling peeling off that red wax and being hit by that wonderful sweet smell for the first time. It felt like I was drinking "something special." Although I wouldn't get that same feeling from opening a bottle of MM today, that experience is certainly the reason why I continue to drink bourbon!

PhilsFan
04-15-2008, 20:17
Maker's Mark was my first premium bourbon as well. Although I wouldn't get that same feeling from opening a bottle of MM today, that experience is certainly the reason why I continue to drink bourbon!

I agree...Maker's was the only bourbon I drank for about 15 years...but after finding SB.com and discovering that there's a whole world of great, different, and more complex tasting bourbons out there, while I could have Maker's on a night out... I won't buy a bottle again.
-Joe

TNbourbon
04-15-2008, 21:52
It's a bit odd and ironic that I should find myself defending Maker's Mark here -- but, other than price, there's nothing wrong with it!
Is it my favorite? Far from it. But I find, as noted below, that the nose is wonderful, and the palate entry very nice. Its youthful age leaves it without a substantial finish, much to its detriment. And I wish they saw themselves as an alter-ego to other than (also under-aged) Jack Daniel's, to which its price is pegged.:skep:
But, there is nothing offensive about Maker's Mark. In fact, what's there is very nice. One just wishes there was more 'there' there.

HighTower
04-16-2008, 01:21
I agree whole heartedly with Tim. Yeah, there is better stuff out there that will cost you less, but I still don't see where the hatred comes from.
It's still bourbon, and a decent one at that. I always have some on hand and I quite enjoy it.
I'm also a sucker for the wax....:grin:

Scott

PhilsFan
04-16-2008, 03:35
For me it's not a matter of hatred for MM. I have enjoyed Maker's for many years and it certainly is appreciated as my introduction to bourbon.
But there are so many other experiences that many of you have had, that I, as a novice have not had...so with a limited budget for bourbon...I have to focus on those new experiences. So while I wouldn't hesitate to order
MM at a bar or restaurant...I still like it...there are too many bourbons and so little time.

-Joe

craigthom
04-16-2008, 05:23
I haven't seen this hatred for Maker's Mark that others have referenced.

What I have seen is disdain for the marketing. I've seen disdain for bottle collectors here on a forum of whiskey collectors.

Nobody writes anything bad about the whiskey itself. It's pretty much the people who sell it (which includes both the "best we can possibly make" and the price point). OK, and sometimes the people who go along with the marketing. But not the liquor itself.

PhilsFan
04-16-2008, 06:01
I've lived in Louisville for 27 years. I met my wonderful wife, Penny (a Louisville native) here and we've been married for almost 22 years.
If God grants it...this is where we will live out our days.

We go back to the place I grew up in PA every year, in fact my niece lives in the house where I grew up. Although I enjoy the visits and will always have a fondness in my heart for PA... I will never again love it the way I love Louisville.

And so it is with Maker's Mark.

-Joe

felthove
04-16-2008, 09:30
When I referenced MM "haters" I used the quotes to try and convey a slang term, meaning that people "hate on it" or don't have much nice to say about it. I don't hate the stuff by any means. Serves me right by trying to be hip!

smokinjoe
04-16-2008, 11:30
This story comes up here about every year, and I always come away a little bewildered on a couple of things:

Firstly, I wonder, "Where is all of this 'marketing', I'm hearing about?" Except for a couple of (and I mean couple) of billboards that I run across, and maybe an ad in a magazine (though, I can't recall the last one I saw, and I can read despite being from Down South ;)), I am wondering where everyone is being pummeled by this "marketing juggernaut". Geeze, bourbon advertising is so scarce, I get a little giddy anytime I see ANY marketing for ANY bourbon. Secondly, if it's the "story" they tell that bothers folks, then I answer, "Don't they all have a little 'story' that they tell?" You ever read the back of a Buffalo Trace bottle? Has Weller Special Reserve really been the "favorite of connoisseurs" since 1849? Bulliet and the Frontier? Huh? What's this about the Beam recipe being the same since the 1700's? The point is, they ALL try to create an image and setting for us, the consumer. I say, fine. If Maker's is more successful at it, more power to them. Thirdly, why is it problematic that Maker's get the highest possible price, and make the most money for their product? This is a "free market" country we live in, isn't it? They make everything they sell, and they sell everthing they make. Hell, they ought to RAISE the price more in that scenario. What, MM is about +/-$20 in most markets? For 20 bucks you get a very fine bourbon, with a lot of cache. If only, most luxury came at such a minimal price.

I like Maker's...a lot. I always have a bottle on hand. I order it frequently, when out. And, I tip my cap to them for starting this whole new Golden Age of Bourbonia. I just have one little request of them. One of the finest bourbons I have ever tasted, was a Maker's Black Wax that was at the Gazebo a couple of Samplers/KBF's ago. I sure wish they sold that here.

With a little love, and a big :toast:, Maker's

JOE

craigthom
04-16-2008, 15:40
The claim that they don't do older bottlings, or different proofs, or any other expression other than the standard one because they are already making the best bourbon possible is marketing.

All these special editions of the packaging is marketing.

The story about how they invented the wheat recipe by baking bread is marketing.

Their ambassador program is marketing.

The barrels with the name plaques on them are marketing.

The visitor center is marketing.

If you haven't noticed any of this, then I'm not sure where you've been.

NorCalBoozer
04-16-2008, 17:58
for some reason, Maker's Mark reminds me of Starbucks.

I certainly don't think Starbucks has the best coffee but i do think it's moderatly good. Others do as well otherwise there is no way they could sell so much coffee.

You can't get along too long with good advertising if the product isn't also good and priced well. Eventually consumers will catch on and move to something else.

I think Makers is the same.....It's followed this marketing strategy of Starbucks/McDonalds to build a singular brand that focuses on good and consistent product(s).

It seems to have worked for them in the bourbon world. I like MM, I buy it from time to time. It's not one of my favorites but if I want something consistent, I will go with MM. It's smooth and enjoyable, great for mixing.

MM has carved out a nice niche. They aren't necessarily on the cutting edge of bourbon but heck I'm sure they are having fun.

Greg

cas
04-17-2008, 05:36
I think the rub with Makers Mark is that it is a mid-level bourbon that is portrayed as something very special.
Craig

NeoTexan
04-17-2008, 08:47
I think the rub with Makers Mark is that it is a mid-level bourbon that is portrayed as something very special.
Craig

I see your point....marketing has it all wrong. Don't claim to be the best. I can see the marketing slogan now. "When you want something mid-level, think of Maker's Mark" :slappin:

Of course some people see it as "mid-level", others see it as very good. Some people perfer it as their daily go to bourbon. Some people can't stand it. That's the wonder of bourbon, so many taste profiles. The key is to drink what YOU like and ignore those who claim you are wrong. There is no wrong ....

felthove
04-17-2008, 09:42
The point of my original post in this thread was to point out the result of a somewhat interesting "experiment." That is, trying a beverage that originally seemed pretty special to me about six months after dipping into about 40 or so other bourbons ranging from $13-$90 a bottle (while abstaning from MM). In the end, MM came off as absolutely ordinary and IMO lacking in any real character. Wasn't trying to bring up the marketing baggage, just the act of revisiting an old friend and realizing that with more experience it wasn't what I thought it was initially.

smokinjoe
04-17-2008, 14:47
The claim that they don't do older bottlings, or different proofs, or any other expression other than the standard one because they are already making the best bourbon possible is marketing.

All these special editions of the packaging is marketing.

The story about how they invented the wheat recipe by baking bread is marketing.

Their ambassador program is marketing.

The barrels with the name plaques on them are marketing.

The visitor center is marketing.

If you haven't noticed any of this, then I'm not sure where you've been.

Well, if you must know, I've been in Nashville for the last few days.;) Yes, the things you point out are marketing, but really no different than what every other distillery does with visitor centers, loyalty clubs, nice "stories", special packaging, and the like. But, I would bet that if you asked 100 random people if they were aware of any of these, about 99 of them wouldn't have a clue as to what you were talking about. I might even guess that regular MM drinkers don't know of half of them. Not very overwhelming, IMO. I guess you could say putting a price tag on the bottles and putting them in a liquor store for sale, could also be more "marketing" by definition, but that's not what we're talking about. The biggest and most noticable part of marketing, promotion and advertising to the customer, is something I just don't see much of. So, I don't see where their marketing is so much slicker and powerful than the next guys.

Anyway, not looking to change minds, just giving my opinion.

BTW, saw 2 whiskey billboards on the drive to Nashville. One each for Jack Daniel's and George Dickel, promoting tours of their distilleries. Jack Daniel's. Now, there's a beat you over the head marketing department!

Look forward to seeing you at the Sampler, and trying your beers!

Cheers!

JOE