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  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Toronto, Canada

    Re: Before Makers' Mark, it was not OK for bourbon to taste good!

    Oh no problem Erich and I didn't read it that way. It is true that some advertising is just puffery as it's termed - selling the sizzle with the steak - and some ends up being just empty formulae. But in the Bill Samuels story about trying to improve on the rye-recipe, there was always something about it that rang true to me, simply because of my own experience. And also, evidently bourbon is not America's leading spirit. Vodka far outsells it and even blended whiskey (including Canadian) does I believe. It's not just price, since a lot of bourbon is still inexpensive. It's palate, the traditional American straight whiskey taste, based on a rye-influenced mash, just doesn't appeal to a lot of people. True, there is a traditional market for it in the south and elsewhere simply because of history, so it carries on and indeed rye-recipe bourbon is still the majority type. But a lot of bourbon has little rye in it - BT has 10% as was noted in another thread - and I think JD and Dickel have less... True, the Beam bourbons have a respectable amount of rye in the mash and Jim Beam is a big seller. How many though drink those products neat? I suspect more people drink Maker's neat that Jim Beam. But anyway, I do believe Bill Samuels probably knew people, friends and others, who said, Bill, I can't drink that twangy stuff, it has a weird aftertaste, I can't accustom to it, and I like Canadian whisky and Cutty Sark better. So (I infer) Bill said, hmm how can I make a non-traditional product, but still within the bourbon precincts, that will overcome that? And he did. I am not sure about the bread thing although I believe he did think the experiments showed superiority of a corn-wheat mash for bourbon, but anyway the fundamental insight about rye recipe's limitations - perceived limitations of course - always rang true to me in part because of my own experience.

    I know people on this board who couldn't stand straight rye when they first tasted it and now really like it - they finally twigged to the taste.

    That's just my view, I must say though I tend (unless it is completely vacuous/ponderous/empty of meaning) to take ad claims more literally than many others here. Not sure why that is, I don't think I'm more credulous than the average person. I believe, especially in the context of a smaller company, that when the people behind it say something they genuinely mean it. I start from that assumption and find often no reason to depart from it.

    Last edited by Gillman; 02-25-2010 at 11:50.



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