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BOTM, 10/06: Maker's Mark


jeff
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and then remembering why I hate going to high school class reunions and seeing that classmate that is still the same after all these years while I'm twice the man (closer to 2.5 times) I used to be...

I know what you mean pal.

Joe :usflag:

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Maker's was my first taste of the "good stuff" or so I thought back then...

I had already tasted WT 101 8YO and found it too harsh and rough back when I was a wee tyke. Fast forward 15 years or so and WT has become my firm fave regular pour.

Maker's is still pretty good but I no longer reach for it with the regularity I used to. If I'm out in a bar or restaurant and Maker's is their best pour I will have no problem at all with that, as I do still think it's a fine drink - there is so much more out there I would rather drink though!

My initial dislike of WT 101 and the preference of Maker's until a few years ago and the dramatic reversal of that situation, illustrates to me at least, that one's palate matures and develops with age and experience.

I am not the sort of guy to be blindly faithful to one Bourbon (apart from RHF!) and just because I liked it once upon a time, does not mean I have to rave about it now.

Maker's is a good choice for BOTM because many people have had more exposure to it than other more specialised brands. Added to that, it serves a a cracking everyday pour and a ruddy fine intro Bourbon.

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The BOTM threads are a great way to catch up on bottles that I have had and also bottles that I wish to try. The one point that I wonder about out loud is this...

If I were Bill Samuels I would be reading this thread. I would have my R&D people read it. The Marketing folks also. Maker's more so than other producers has more to gain from this than say HH, BT or WT. We freely give our opinions without the filtering of a "focus group". We also do something that a focus group does not do, we tend to put our money where our mouths are.

I find it very interesting and ask the question for others on the board that know way more than I, do industry decision makers ( other than Julian ) read this forum and use it? If I were Mr. Samuels, I would thank Jeff for the free feedback.

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I'm not sure how much say Bill has in the decisions to market new products. The Samuels family hasn't owned Makers in quite a while. It was owned by (IIRC) Hiram Walker and is now owned by Fortune Brands (Jim Beam).

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...The Samuels family hasn't owned Makers in quite a while. It was owned by (IIRC) Hiram Walker and is now owned by Fortune Brands (Jim Beam).

Allied Domecq. It came to Beam Global (or whatever the heck their name is now!) when then-Fortune put up cash alongside that of Pernod Ricard to buy AD last summer. (In Great Britain, full financing must be in place before a deal can be commenced -- and Pernod didn't have enough cash.) Thus, Fortune/Beam got Maker's (and other spirits/labels) for its investment.

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I was wondering if I missed a sale. Hiram Wlker and Domecq merged in 1998 to form Allied Domecq. Makers was sold to Hiram in December 1981.

Interesting how this 1981 date seems to line up with some peoples' comments that Makers was better pre-mid 80s.

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I didn't ask for a review of who bought who and when. I used the Bill Samuels reference as one that I hoped would work to illustrate my point and illuminate my question. Thanks for the information.

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As far as people in the industry that are influential as to producing/marketing new products, I know that Peter Pogue, Drew Kulsveen and Julian Van Winkle all read/participate in the forum. As far as others who are in a position to influence the powers that be in a company, I'm not sure (I know there are a few from both HH and BT, but don't know their postions in the co.)-however I think it would be unfortunate for the other major companies to ignore a direct link into the minds of a large number of customers...esp. one that would cost them nothing other than having one of their marketers read one day a week.

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My impression after being involved with the small marketing group meeting is that Makers seems happy to have the niche they do, and they want to keep that niche happy...and hope to expand their market through those faithful buyers sharing the product they already produce, not creating a new product or a variation of their product. Now I could be all wrong and they could have been looking for information behind the questions they asked that I am just totally missing but that was my gut feeling. They were very quick to let me know...if it is correct, that they have discontinued the "Japanese" bottling. Now tomorrow they will probably announce a single barrel version just to prove my gut is off target!

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I think it would be unfortunate for the other major companies to ignore a direct link into the minds of a large number of customers...esp. one that would cost them nothing other than having one of their marketers read one day a week.

A large number? The opinion of 40 to 50 people (yes I know there are around 2000 Members and others visiting, but look at the number of posts per member. After the first 50, the number of posts drops big time) would be hardly what I consider a large number. Even if you believe these people represent 1000 more like themselves that number is insignificant compared to MM sales. I am sure they are more interested in marketing to the larger number of people in the general public. Why invest in a gamble for a few when you sell everything you have, double production and still sell it all?

Their current path seems to be working well and as the saying goes, "If something is working, .....

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I have had personal evidence from very early on in this online bulletin board thing (long before Straight Bourbon) that the producers do monitor these groups. There are a few who participate, but a lot of others who lurk. The modern day equivalent of clipping services monitors boards such as this one for their clients. This is not unique to whiskey-makers. It's true of all consumer products marketers. They keep their ear to the ground. They want to know what people are saying about them and their products. Yes, they also do focus groups. They do everything.

What is somewhat unique to the booze biz is the 80/20 rule, in which 80 percent of your volume comes from 20 percent of your consumers. It's even more extreme in the booze biz, maybe nearer to 90/10. The producers know this and they pay very close attention to their "heavy users."

As anyone here who has ever attended a Straight Bourbon distillery tour knows, the producers are all very aware of Straight Bourbon and recognize that its members represent both a considerable source of sales volume in their own right as well as opinion leadership.

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They want to make their customers feel good about choosing Maker's. The brand is positioned such that the Red Wax is the Nike Swoosh of Bourbon. They want you to feel good when you look at the barback and after becoming somewhat bewildered, you call a Maker's. Most of us here say more power to them but please stick to Bourbon and stop rewriting history or the company story. Your whisky is okay, but not nearly as good as you think. What you have done with the brand is amazing.

If you don't agree with that picture this, you just signed up for a username here and your first post you tell us you only drink the best bourbon in the world, Maker's. The specter of trying to defend a comment like that sends cold chills down my spine.

I have had to walk away on occasion when the red wall goes up in a discussion and someone just can't believe and will not admit that there is anything better than Maker's. Nothing wrong with loyalty, but I have to conclude that whoever it is hasn't gone all the way around the block yet.

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They want to make their customers feel good about choosing Maker's. The brand is positioned such that the Red Wax is the Nike Swoosh of Bourbon. They want you to feel good when you look at the barback and after becoming somewhat bewildered, you call a Maker's. Most of us here say more power to them but please stick to Bourbon and stop rewriting history or the company story. Your whisky is okay, but not nearly as good as you think. What you have done with the brand is amazing.

If you don't agree with that picture this, you just signed up for a username here and your first post you tell us you only drink the best bourbon in the world, Maker's. The specter of trying to defend a comment like that sends cold chills down my spine.

I have had to walk away on occasion when the red wall goes up in a discussion and someone just can't believe and will not admit that there is anything better than Maker's. Nothing wrong with loyalty, but I have to conclude that whoever it is hasn't gone all the way around the block yet.

Yeah, I would agree with that. I think that Bobby paints a very accurate picture of MM. It seems to me that this idea of brand loyalty extends far beyond just bourbon though. Beer, tools, cars, women ;). For the people who fall into that category, I find it better just to reclassify them as MM enthusiast's rather than bourbon enthusiast';s and call it a day.

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It's good that MM is BOTM so the "attitude" of we enthusiasts about Maker's Mark can get a full airing.

A few people just don't like it. Most of us think it's a good bourbon, maybe even in the higher ranks. Most of us admire what the brand has accomplished and genuinely appreciate what it has done for the image of American whiskey and, by association, for the image of American whiskey enthusiasts.

Most of us even accept that puffery is part of marketing and that Maker's Mark is not the only producer guilty of it.

Yet where most of us won't go and where you will get a fight if you try to drag us there is, "Maker's Mark is the best whiskey ever made and you need never drink anything else."

For those of us who are married, one spouse is enough. For those of us who are not married, zero spouses is perfect. In neither case do we want to marry a whiskey. When it comes to whiskey, people here like to play the field. If you come in here married to one whiskey, you will be considered to be practicing a deviant lifestyle.

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They want to make their customers feel good about choosing Maker's...but please stick to Bourbon and stop rewriting history or the company story. Your whisky is okay, but not nearly as good as you think. What you have done with the brand is amazing.

...

I have had to walk away on occasion when the red wall goes up in a discussion and someone just can't believe and will not admit that there is anything better than Maker's. Nothing wrong with loyalty, but I have to conclude that whoever it is hasn't gone all the way around the block yet.

Bobby,

Strong words for Maker's. Please explain your comments re: rewriting history or the company story. I have never seen anyone argue that Maker's is the only bourbon worth drinking, but then again I'm a total noob compared to you around here, so I'm sure you've experienced frustration I've been fortunate enough to miss. Still, I agree with your final sentence, there's a lot more to bourbon than Maker's Mark.

I would guess that every bourbon maker views their own product as very good, otherwise why would they bother (products like JB white label notwithstanding, i'm talking about premium bourbon). Of COURSE they think it's great, otherwise they have no passion for what they are doing. Your post seems to communicate that there is something bad about Maker's simply because they market well and some people think it is truly great. Maybe I'm misreading you, and if so, I apologize.

I really would like to hear what you view as "rewriting history" as I have no clue what you are talking about. I'm not saying that aren't guilty of this, only that your comments make no sense to me. I am ignorant here, educate me.

Joel

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I have had to walk away on occasion when the red wall goes up in a discussion and someone just can't believe and will not admit that there is anything better than Maker's. Nothing wrong with loyalty, but I have to conclude that whoever it is hasn't gone all the way around the block yet.

I keep forgetting that some of use have no taste and must rely on you good folks to tell us what we like. God forbid that someone may like something the people who "know" bourbon find not to their tastes. :bowdown:

Well, I need to get going ... I apparently have not made my way around the block yet.

Bobby, would please make a list of what bourbons are on the approved list? I want to make sure I fit in.

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Bobby, would please make a list of what bourbons are on the approved list? I want to make sure I fit in.

Dale, that's uncalled for. There is nothing here that you need to make changes to be a part of, just be yourself.If I offended you I apologise.

I do take issue with Maker's from time to time and some of the marketing. It's Bourbon, not rocket science. The one thing Bill Samuels and I do have in common is when someone drinks Maker's we both make money, him a lot, me a little, so drink up folks.

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I dont think Bobby is talking about SB.com, Dale. I think he is refering to people he has tried to introduce to new bourbon's. I can't figure out why people are getting so upset with Bobby's comments. I have run into more people in life who only like what THEY like and will not give anything else a chance. Now if you have been lucky enough to never run into a person like that, you're much luckier than me. I'm always trying to get people to try new Bourbons, Single Malts, and Beers all the time. And you know what, its always the same thing, " I only like (insert your bourbon), (scotch), and (beer) " It goes without saying that all of us on SB.com are not that kind of crowd because we are here. We are looking for other choice's and hope to find it with a informed crowd like SB.com. OR maybe Bobby thinks all the members here who like MM are just plain stubborn. :slappin: :slappin: :slappin: :slappin: I do have a bottle of MM open in my bar all the time.

Now Joel the "rewritten history" is this. Bill Samuel tell the story of how his dad was baking bread and then came up with the idea that wheat instead of rye would make for a better bourbon. He then went to work on a formula and mash-bill to produce what is now MM.

I think the real story is that he showed at S/W back when he decide to start distilling again and asked Pappy Van Winkle if he could help him out with producing a good product like his. Pappy then gave Bill Sr his mash-bill, yeast strain and let his master distiller go to MM and start up the still's. Seems to me that is a "re-written bit of history" I think you can find the story in Chucks book and Sally Van Winkle Campbell's book.

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All of this over Maker's. Good. I have read over and over that MM was the introduction to "premium" pours for many of us. The key for me was a direct result of the marketing and positioning that they work to acheive. I was behind a red wall for a short time before other bottles were suggested and that was pre SB.com.

I still like Maker's. I see it and accept it for what it is, and I am truthful when asked for my opinion on it. I still reccomend it to new bourbon drinkers. I also encourage them to try other bourbon. My frustration is what I want to see from Maker's other than what they presently do.

That's just me...and I manage a restaurant, I don't run a distillery.

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Let me state this direct...to the point...

I have no issue with Maker's Mark...

Things get side-tracked and misinterpreted. What we want to do is set the record straight (historically) to the best of our knowledge---and the right to verse our opinion.

I have no issue with folks who are loyal followers of Maker's Mark :grin: :grin: :grin:

They created a image, a excellent one at that :grin: :grin: :grin:---->And yes, there is Maker's Mark in my bunker :grin: <-----but it's been the "hide your crossed fingers behind your back" kinda thing...

I made this post ... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2623

That picture, the first distilling crew (now) hangs at the Maker's Mark Distillery (not there before this post)...and they even mention his name (Uncle Elmo's) stating he was the first Master Distiller :grin:

We (SB.com) recently toured Maker's Mark. Most Excellent :grin: :grin: Our tour guide was Dave Pickerel---Master Distiller for Maker's :grin: :grin: :grin: Right before we entered the distillery, he (Dave) mentions this picture and he told everyone there that Elmo Beam was the first Master Distiller :grin: :grin: :grin: I was so proud I could bust :grin: :grin: I looked him right in the eye and proclaimed "proudly" that Elmo was my great Uncle :grin: :grin:

We can go on and on with this...but it does not mean that Maker's Mark is bad...not at all. Does it mean that MM is "top shelf" "premium"? In my opinion...NO...It's good, but there are "other's" that smoke the doors off 'em :grin: :grin:

In Nelson County...Maker's Mark is close to "Heaven" in this neck of the woods :grin: :grin: :grin: A "almost" bow down will happen when Bill walks into a gathering in our county :grin: :grin: He's a "God" in their view... I had to add that tid-bit of info :grin:

No offense is meant by my opinion, none what-so-ever.

My posts in this long draw and still to come hot topic?...Trying to keep folks from changing history---or should I say "omitting" key factors in the lines of facts.

So far, I am very pleased with the "outcome"...

My Aunt Jo would have been proud :grin: :grin: Keeping a lifetime promise :grin: :grin:

Bettye Jo Boone

7th Generation Jacob Beam :grin:

G-granddaughter of Joseph L. Beam :grin: :grin:

First Master Distiller, and one of the fist original incorproators of Heaven Hill :grin:

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I like Bobby's term "red wall." I take it to mean people who have drunk the Kool Aid, bought into the Maker's hype hook, line and sinker, and who look down on anyone who is so unenlightened as to drink anything else.

As for the history, as I have said to Bill Samuel's face, he has told some whoppers over the years, but always in a spirit of fun; "tall tales," as it were. Then the MBA-types got in there, took his "tales" as gospel truth and started to sell them as such. He conceded the point.

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Bobby, how do you make some $$ when some Maker's is consumed, I don't follow that.

Gary

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Dale,

I enjoy Maker's Mark and I have been to many events and met many Maker's "fans", and you know as well as I do that there are just as many "wax collectors" attending as true bourbon afficionados. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people saying that Maker's is the only bourbon worth drinking. That's ridiculous and a sign of someone who hasn't tasted much else. There's nothing wrong with Maker's being someone's favorite, but anyone with any experience should be able to appreciate the other good bourbons out there.

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