• AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Cocktails, Life Lessons, Marketing Brilliance

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    …is ok as long as you recognize that you were wrong and you intend to make things right.

    Last Saturday I received a strange note from Rob Samuels (the COO of Maker’s Mark and grandson of the founder) stating that they were going to reduce the ABV in their bourbon to meet a shortage in supply and a frenzy ensued.  I posted my opinions on this blog…in summary, bone-headed move that cheapened the brand and pandered to price sensitive non-customers at the sacrifice of the brand advocates.

    This weekend I received a very heartfelt apology from the same man.  It was honest and clear:

    Dear Ambassador,
    Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

    You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

    So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.

    The unanticipated dramatic growth rate of Maker’s Mark is a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages. We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.

    Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.

    We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created. Same recipe. Same production process. Same product.

    As always, we will continue to let you know first about developments at the distillery. In the meantime please keep telling us what’s on your mind and come down and visit us at the distillery. It means a lot to us.


    Rob Samuels
    Chief Operating Officer,

    Admitting you were wrong is always the hardest part…taking action to correct it is even more difficult.  The politicians have even come up with a word for it, calling people who have the gall to change their position “Flip-Floppers.”

    When you’re wrong and you know it; bite the bullet, take action and hope everyone forgives you.  If you’ve created a fan base of ambassadors like Maker’s Mark…chances are they will.

    Contrast the responses on a Maker’s Mark Facebook post last Saturday vs. their Facebook Post 1 week later (after the apology).

    While this entire mess could have been easily avoided I toast you Mr. Samuels for coming around to your senses.  Thanks for listening.


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