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.