Last edited by fishnbowljoe; 03-01-2010 at 20:25. Reason: Edit: Changed Beam to Allied Domecq
My gripe with MM always has been that its single iteration is/was underaged, and therefore 'unfinished'. In fact, the lack of a finish, taste-wise, was its worst sin, for me, because everything about it up to the point when you expect to relish the finish is quite good.
Plus -- in our market, at least -- distributors made a concerted effort to pair it with Jack Daniel's, because it is the market leader. They wanted it placed near JD on the shelf, and they wanted it priced like JD -- when one price moved, the other did, too. Now, JD ALSO is a too-pricey, too-young whiskey that's otherwise okay, so that never thrilled me, and kept me from buying Maker's Mark just like it keeps me from buying Jack Daniel's.
All that said, Beam (which has only owned Maker's 18 months or so now) seems to have broken, at least, that price-point link to JD, and the price seems to have fallen a bit. Frankly, I've been thinking it may be time to try Maker's again.
As an aside, I was kind of taken aback by the near-ad hominem attack on Dave Pickerell in the lead post of this thread. Dave has been a pretty regular poster here recently (not sure everyone realizes that since his ID is barely suggestive of his industry prominence), and I'd hoped he might chime in to give some background about MM's marketing, if not to defend his honor. For whatever it's worth, 'dishonest' and 'arrogant' are two adjectives that never would have jumped to my mind about Dave, despite my aforementioned aversion to his erstwhile bourbon's market position.
"Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama
If Maker's Mark has 'declined in quality,' a debatable proposition in its own right, it cannot be laid at Beam's feet. Beam only took over in 2006 and they haven't made any significant changes. Bill Samuels is still in charge. Beam is undoubtedly having an influence on marketing and promotion, but there is no evidence they have gotten their fingers into production.
Whatever the time frame is for people who pine for the Maker's Mark of yesteryear, they're not talking about the way it was five or ten years ago. Is it different from, say, 30 years ago? That, I think, is the question.
Last edited by cowdery; 03-01-2010 at 19:56.
I apologize for mistyping my post. I spoke of the Beam purchase of Maker's Mark, but meant to refer to the sale of Maker's Mark to Allied Domecq (or whoever it was that acquired MM) in the 1980's.
I am curious if anything changed in production back then. To my understanding they were purchased by a foreign company and I didn't know if that company tinkered with production. It was roughly 30 years ago, correct?
Much as with Beam, Allied Domecq was involved with marketing and promotion, but not production. Having no other American whiskey properties, unless you count Canadian Club, they were even more arm's length than Beam.
Here's the history. Maker's Mark was established by Bill Samuels Senior in 1953. It was owned by the Samuels family until 1981, when it was sold to Hiram Walker and Sons, the Canadian company that made Canadian Club. Allied subsequently bought Walker, and so on. Through it all, Bill Sr. was in charge, then Bill Jr., who is still in charge.
The change from family to corporate ownership, therefore, was nearly 30 years ago.
The family sold not because the company was in trouble but because it was doing well and the family couldn't or didn't want to make the additional investment needed, so they sold to a bigger company with deeper pockets.
If you want to look for an event of some kind, look at the 1996 expansion, when Maker's essentially built a second distillery, ostensibly exactly like the original.
I've got a nice sample from 1981 that StraightBoston was kind enough to send me. Compared to the current stuff, it's like night and day. Even my girlfriend who doesn't even drink bourbon was able to pick out the good stuff immediately.