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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
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    Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    As I pulled the mail out of the mailbox today, I smiled to myself when I saw the "Bourbon Country Reader" envelope. I was barely inside the house when I tore open the envelope to peruse the contents. This is the first issue I have received in the mail; the preceding issue was wrapped as a Father's Day present.

    I enjoyed the entire read, but I found myself reflecting most on the Maker's Mark review. I must confess that since visiting this forum, I have developed a bit of ambivalence about MM. Chuck's piece challenged me to explore this ambivalence.

    I have been sucked into the marketing in the past for sure. Believe me, we jumped at the chance to dip our own bottle while touring MM, and we also bought a blue label/white wax bottle signed by Bill Samuel, Jr. Actually, I think dipping our own bottle was kind of cool, but the signed bottle thing is a little embarrassing in retrospect. It was really a great illustration of the marketing philosophy of MM. For $24.95 (or whatever it was), I could buy Bill Samuel's signature on a fancy bottle. At WT when we toured, Jimmy Russell stopped to chat with us at no charge.

    But I enjoy the whiskey. I am having a neat pour in response to Chuck's article, and I am starting to appreciate the lemon candy notes about which he so eloquently wrote. Tasting isn't my strong suit, so that may be the power of suggestion, but what the heck. The bottom line as Chuck points out is that marketing doesn't alter the quality of the product, and I think the quality is there.

    Taking it one step farther, however, Chuck remarks that "even the best marketing can only sell a product once." I'm not sure I agree with that 100%. Sure, if you absolutely hate something, you'll only be duped once. I think where MM may succeed is in convincing the general occasional bourbon drinking populace that they don't have to explore and the "known quantity" brand is always easy to find. Also, if they convince bar/restaurant owners who may not consume themselves that the MM brand is easily recognized, the quality issue is secondary. Just MHO.

    Chuck, great stuff as always.


  2. #2
    Administrator in exile
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    Aug 2002
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    I'm glad you're giving MM a second chance Dave. I have always enjoyed it for what it is; a strong middle-shelf bourbon that's always easy to enjoy, especially on a hot summer's day. My problem is that three years ago I could frequently pick up a fifth for $14.99, now I'm lucky to find it under $19; $20 in some places. I like to keep some around because friends and aquaintances will recognize it as a measure of a well-stocked bar, and if that's what they like, I'm happy to give it to them. It also keeps them out of the good stuff

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Chicago
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    Thanks, Dave. The Book contains that review in a modified form, but there is also a full chapter in which I dissect the Maker's Mark mythology in some detail. You are exactly correct about what Maker's Mark has accomplished and it is no small feat. I think they also deserve some credit--though not as much as they are claiming--for the premiumization of American whiskey that has made our little hobby possible.

  4. #4

    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    I think too often here we tend to give the impression that we hate Maker's Mark, but if you read closely you realize that's far from the truth. Most of us acknowledge that we enjoy it well enough, but it gets lost in the talk here about the Staggs, BMHs, Rock Hill Farms and other 'premium' premium bourbons.
    But, the folks here are knowledgeable -- that is, they realize there are many better values out there, including the VanWinkles and Wellers among wheaters.
    So, Maker's Mark provides a real service in getting people interested in bourbon, and if they never get beyond that single brand, fine for them. But those of us that do explore, I think, just prefer the better values elsewhere -- at least, with our own money.


  5. #5
    Taster
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    Jul 2004
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    Annapolis, MD
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    60

    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    I think too often here we tend to give the impression that we hate Maker's Mark, but if you read closely you realize that's far from the truth. Most of us acknowledge that we enjoy it well enough, but it gets lost in the talk here about the Staggs, BMHs, Rock Hill Farms and other 'premium' premium bourbons.
    But, the folks here are knowledgeable -- that is, they realize there are many better values out there, including the VanWinkles and Wellers among wheaters.
    So, Maker's Mark provides a real service in getting people interested in bourbon , and if they never get beyond that single brand, fine for them. But those of us that do explore, I think, just prefer the better values elsewhere -- at least, with our own money.
    Exactly. For many people (such as myself), MM is what got them on the road to the super premiums and the better value bourbons. If at Christmas '92 the Montgomery County, MD liquor store didn't have Booker's and Rock Hill (the nice old bottle with the medallion and the "bottled in bond" neck wrap) right above the MM, who knows when I would've tried them.

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
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    Nov 2003
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    Birmingham, AL
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    You are so right. I wish I had a quarter for every customer that walks in my store and says, "Well, I'd like to explore more bourbon. I like Maker's Mark." Next thing you know they are drinking Van Winkle and trying all kinds of goodies.

  7. #7
    Apprentice
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    Jul 2003
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    Makers Mark is the bourbon that got me started tasting better products. In college I drank mostly very (I mean very) cheap bourbon. Then (mid 80s), Jim Beam white was considered premium to me. As a senior, a fellow student who happened to be from Kentucky, introduced me to Makers Mark. Wow. What a difference. That is when I stopped mixing bourbon with anything. It took many years, but eventually I started trying even better bourbons (and other whiskeys). Now I am amazed at the price I have paid for single bottles of bourbon. Heck, for the price of one of my bottles I could have kept myself in cheap bourbon for over a month in college!

    I do still like and drink MM. Delta serves it in their lounges and on their planes

  8. #8
    Advanced Taster
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    Jun 2004
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    Seattle, USA
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    MM is one of the few "premiums" that I've tasted and not particularly liked. In fact, it's the only bourbon I've ordered at a bar and not finished due to dislike. I've given it a few tries over the last year, and still just can't drink it. Strange perhaps, since I like other wheaters quite a bit. I'm very glad it wasn't the first bourbon I tried, or I might not have gotten much further in my explorations.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2007
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    Jan 2003
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    NYC, Louisville, Shenzhen
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    I have to chime in here. I am the last person that would describe MM as a premium bourbon, but it sits admirably a shelf or two above the cats and dogs in a five or six shelf bunker.

    It's drinkable, especially at 30,000 feet, where, I do have to admit, it's often the best American whiskey available!

  10. #10
    Guru
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    Sep 2001
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    Pelham, AL
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    3,891

    Re: Maker\'s Mark Confessions and Reflections

    I, for one, really do not care for MM. While some describe it as very smooth, to me it is fairly harsh.

    Tim

 

 

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