Earlier in the week, we talked to some bartenders and liquor store owners to make sense of the Maker’s Mark announcement that it will water down its bourbon to meet demand. A lot of angry fans have been calling for boycott, and others have been storming the shelves to grab the last of the 90-proof bottles.
Brent Rose of Gizmodo says their ire is sort of unnecessary, as the situation is not as bad as perceived. To begin with, most people drink their glass of Maker’s Mark with ice or soda, or mixed as a cocktail. That means that the average serving is already diluted by the time you start sipping.
We’re not really convinced by that argument, since it’s better to start at higher proof and have the option of adding water than to have someone do it for you. However, he does make a more provocative claim, which is that even before the change in proof, Maker’s had already begun to tinker with its tried-and-true formula by reducing the aging time. While the bourbon Maker does not explicitly state the age of its whiskey, it has apparently already reduced the barrel-aging period by a year on average, again in an effort to meet demand.
As Rose points out, this move has serious ramifications, since “barrel-aging is where bourbon gets its color and its smokey, woody flavors.” By removing a year from the process, “the amount of flavors a spirit could inherit from the wooden walls” has already been compromised.[via Gizmodo]