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Maker's Mark
Makers Mark.jpg
Maker's Mark
TypeBourbon whiskey
ManufacturerBeam Suntory
Country of originLoretto, Kentucky, U.S.
37°38′52″N 85°20′56″W / 37.64778°N 85.34889°W / 37.64778; -85.34889
Alcohol by volume45%
Proof (US)90
Related productsJim Beam

Maker's Mark is a small-batch bourbon whiskey produced in Loretto, Kentucky, by Beam Suntory. It is bottled at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume) and sold in squarish bottles sealed with red wax.[1] The distillery offers tours, and is part of the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.


Maker's Mark's origin began when T. William "Bill" Samuels Sr., purchased the "Burks' Distillery" in Loretto, Kentucky, for $35,000[2] on October 1, 1953.[3] Production began in 1954, and the first run was bottled in 1958 under the brand's dipped red wax seal[3] (U.S. trademark serial number 73526578).

In the 1960s and 1970s, Maker's Mark was widely marketed with the tag line, "It tastes expensive ... and is."[4][5]

The distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 1974, and designated a National Historic Landmark on December 16, 1980, listed as "Burks' Distillery", the first distillery in America to be recognized while the landmark buildings were in active production.[6]

Maker's Mark was sold to Hiram Walker & Sons in 1981,[2] which was acquired by the distillery giant Allied Domecq in 1987. When Allied-Domecq was bought by Pernod Ricard in 2005, the Maker's Mark brand was sold to Deerfield, Illinois–based Fortune Brands.[2] Fortune Brands split in 2011, with its alcoholic beverage business becoming Beam Inc.. Beam became Beam Suntory, in 2014.

After the brand's creation by Bill Samuels, Sr., its production was overseen by his son Bill Samuels, Jr. until 2011 when he announced his retirement as president and CEO at the age of 70. His son Rob Samuels succeeded him in April 2011.[2]

On February 9, 2013, the company sent a mass email announcing a plan to reduce the alcohol strength of the whiskey, citing supply issues as the reason for the change.[7] The result of this change would have been to reduce the product from 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume) to 84 U.S. proof (42% abv), which would have stretched inventory by about 6%. Maker's Mark said that their own tasting panel of distillery employees reported no taste difference in the lower proof, while industry analysts said that the difference would be subtle, and since most drinkers mix the bourbon or serve it on ice, few would be able to notice it.[8][9][10] According to Neil Irwin for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, the decision can be explained by Beam's desire to keep Maker's Mark competitive as a premium bourbon at mid-range bars, and a well drink among high-end bars.[11]

On February 17, the company said that it had reconsidered its decision after receiving a strong negative reaction from customers, and that it would continue to bottle at the original strength.[12][13] Some overseas markets like Australia will continue to sell the whiskey at 40%.[14]

In January 2014, Beam Inc announced its sale to Suntory, creating the third largest distilled spirits maker in the world.[15] News of the proposed sale included bourbon executives vowing "the product taste won't change – and neither will the company's historic purity standards."[16]

In 2014, Maker's Mark released a Maker's Mark Cask Strength Bourbon in limited quantities initially available to consumers only at their distillery gift shop.[17] ABV fluctuates each batch between 53% and 58%. The product was released on the global market in July 2016.[18]

In November 2015 Suntory announced a major expansion of its distillery.[19]

In November 2018, Dave Pickerell, who served as master distiller, died at 62 years old. Pickerell was called the "Johnny Appleseed of American Whiskey", and was subsequently honored by Metallica.[20]

In June 2019, the company announced it would begin selling Maker’s Mark 101, bottled at 101 U.S. proof, at their distillery. The higher proof bourbon was first introduced at duty-free airport shops in 2018.[21]

About the bourbon

Burks' Distillery
Historic Distillery
Nearest cityLoretto, Kentucky
Area36 acres (15 ha)
Built1889 (1889)
ArchitectGeorge R. Burks
NRHP reference No.74000893[22]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 31, 1974
Designated NHLJanuary 16, 1980

Maker's Mark is unusual in that no rye is used as part of the mash. Instead of rye Maker's Mark uses red winter wheat (16%), along with corn (70%) and malted barley (14%) in the Mash Bill. During the planning phase of Maker's Mark, Samuels allegedly developed seven candidate mash bills for the new bourbon. As he did not have time to distill and age each one for tasting, he instead made a loaf of bread from each recipe and the one with no rye was judged the best tasting. Samuels also received considerable assistance and recipes from Stitzel-Weller owner Pappy Van Winkle, whose distillery produced the wheated Old Fitzgerald and W. L. Weller bourbons.[23]

Maker's Mark is aged for around six years, being bottled and marketed when the company's tasters agree that it is ready. Maker's Mark is one of the few distillers to rotate the barrels from the upper to the lower levels of the aging warehouses during the aging process[citation needed] to even out the differences in temperature during the process. The upper floors are exposed to the greatest temperature variations during the year, so rotating the barrels ensures that the bourbon in all the barrels has the same quality and taste.

Maker's Mark is marketed as a small batch Bourbon. Most producers of so-called small batch Bourbons do not clarify exactly what they mean by the term. The producer of Maker's Mark says that the traditional definition is "A bourbon that is produced/distilled in small quantities of approximately 1,000 gallons or less (20 barrels) from a mash bill of around 200 bushels of grain".[24][25][26]

Maker's Mark is sold in squarish bottles that are sealed with red wax. T. William Samuels' wife, Marjorie "Margie" Samuels, gave the whiskey its name, drew its label, and thought up the wax dipping that gives the bottle its distinctive look. It was introduced to the market in 1959.

Three varieties are marketed: the original, bottled at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume); a mint julep flavor with green wax on the neck released seasonally in limited amounts; and Maker's 46 (47% alcohol by volume), a variety flavored by introducing seared French oak staves into the traditional charred white oak barrel toward the end of its aging.[27]

Maker's Mark is, along with George Dickel and Old Forester,[28] one of a handful of American-made whiskies that uses the Scottish spelling "whisky" rather than the predominant American "whiskey".

Bourbon House & Lounge

Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge in Fourth Street Live!, Downtown Louisville
Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge in Fourth Street Live!, Downtown Louisville

Maker's Mark began creating branded restaurants with the October 2004 opening of Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge in the Fourth Street Live! entertainment complex in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to serving Maker's Mark it features bourbons from each of Kentucky's distilleries. The menu was designed by Chef Al Paris of the former jazz club Zanzibar Blue restaurant in Philadelphia.

A second such establishment opened in Kansas City, Missouri's downtown Power & Light District in 2008, and a third at the Indiana Live Casino in Shelbyville, Indiana just outside Indianapolis in March, 2009.


The production line at the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky
The production line at the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky

Maker's Mark bourbon has earned solid marks at international Spirits ratings competitions. Its primary bourbon earned a gold medal at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirit Ratings Competition and a score of 90–95 from Wine Enthusiast in 2007.[29] The Maker's Mark 46—which benefits from longer aging and exposure to toasted French oak staves—has earned similar ratings.[30] Jane MacQuitty, spirits writer for The London Times, said of Maker's Mark that "What separates this bourbon from the rest is the softness and smoothness of its rich oak, vanilla and raisiny-like flavours."[31] Food critic Morgan Murphy said "Dark as its red wax seal, this beautiful whiskey packs apple spice, vanilla, and a front-of-the-mouth crispness that is admired the world over."[32]

Limited edition collector's sets


Maker's Mark began special edition bottles featuring Keeneland bottles for horses in 1997. The label was white with a dark green horse and green wax. Other Keeneland bottles include famous Derby winners such as Secretariat (2003), Seattle Slew (2004), Affirmed (2005), American Pharoah (2016), and Justify (2018).

University of Louisville

On July 20, 2012, Maker's Mark started selling a limited edition bottle featuring University of Louisville's head football coach Charlie Strong. The bottles were created to raise money for a new Academic Center of Excellence on UofL's campus. Maker's Mark also has marketed special label bottles with the images of Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich for the same purpose.

University of Kentucky

Maker's Mark has featured several University of Kentucky sports personalities on its University of Kentucky (UK) line of limited release bottles. A limited quantity of bottles can be signed for free by the personality that was selected for the bottle and by a member of the Samuels family. The signing party is held at Keeneland horse track in the university's home city of Lexington.

The first UK special edition bottle was produced in 1993. In celebration of the 1996 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions, Maker's Mark printed a bottle that had a denim background with white type. The team's coach at the time, Rick Pitino, signed the bottle.[33]

Other bottles include: Wildcat Bottle (2001), Bill Keightley (2002), Rupp's Runts (2006),[34] The Unforgettables (2007),[35] Joe B. Hall (first in 2008[36] and again in 2016[37]), Rich Brooks (2009),[38] John Calipari (2010),[39] Tim Couch (2012),[40] Dan Issel (2013),[41] Mark Stoops (2014),[42] and Adolph Rupp (2015).[37] The 2015 bottle was the first in a series honoring the five basketball coaches who won NCAA titles at UK; Pitino was honored in 2017 and Tubby Smith in 2018, with Calipari to be honored for a second time in 2019.[37]


The Maker's Mark Ambassador program is an exclusive association of bourbon lovers who receive perks and exclusive gifts for introducing friends and family to Maker's Mark Bourbon. As an Ambassador, your name is engraved on a plaque that is affixed to a barrel of Maker's Mark. Upon maturity, you're invited to visit the distillery for a special tour that concludes with the ability to purchase bottles with special labels bearing your name and the ceremonial dipping of each bottle in red wax.[43]

As an Ambassador, each year a small holiday gift is mailed to you. These gifts are often a way to enhance the holiday cheer of a bottle of Maker's Mark. Below is a list of items that have been sent to Ambassadors throughout the years:

  • 2011: Christmas Sweater
  • 2012: Gag Boxes (Vintage Fruitcake, Me-Wow! Cat Weights & Chest Hair Waxing, Tanning & Styling Kit)
  • 2013: Nightcap Santa Hat
  • 2014: Maker's 46 Scarf
  • 2015: Earmuffs and Ear Warmer Headband
  • 2016: Mistletoe Bottle Neck Collar Set
  • 2017: Bottle Bows & Personalized Labels
  • 2018: Socks
  • 2019: Stained Glass Holiday Ornament
  • 2020: Playing cards with bourbon cocktail recipes on each suite’s Ace card. The face cards feature Rob Samuels as Jack, Margie Samuels as Queen, and Bill Samuels, Sr as King. Bill Samuels, Jr is the deck’s Joker.

See also


  1. ^ "Maker's Mark Wax". Maker's Mark. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  2. ^ a b c d Samuels To Step Down As Maker's Mark President Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press, 12 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b Riddle, Becky. "Old Grist Mill and Distillery". Kentucky Historical Society. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  4. ^ It tastes expensive ... and is tradeark description page. Trademarkia. (accessed 2017-04-08).
  5. ^ "Maker's Mark review page at ''Bourbon Central''". Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  6. ^ Staff, TheStreet (2018-01-16). "Take a Tour of the Maker's Mark Bourbon Distillery". TheStreet. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  7. ^[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Wilson, Jason (February 26, 2013). "Maker's Mark debacle: The proof is in the overreaction". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  9. ^ "Maker's Mark waters down bourbon to meet demand". CBS Moneywatch. Associated Press. February 11, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  10. ^ Otts, Chris (February 12, 2013). "Maker's Mark defends watering down its bourbon". USA Today. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  11. ^ Irwin, Neil (February 17, 2013). "Bourbonomics 101: What the Maker's Mark dilution debacle says about corporate strategy". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  12. ^ Cooper, Rachel (18 February 2013). "Maker's Mark reverses move to water down whisky". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Maker's Mark to restore alcohol content of whiskey". Archived December 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "No change to Maker's Mark ABV in Australia: Beam - The Shout, Hotel News, Liquor News, Bar + Club News". Archived from the original on 2013-09-12. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  15. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (13 January 2014). "Maker of Jim Beam, Maker's Mark bought by Japanese company". Knox News. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  16. ^ Chumley, Cheryl K. (14 January 2014). "Jim Beam, Maker's Mark to be sold to Japanese company: Consumers told 'nothing has changed'". The Washington Times. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  17. ^ Hahn, Fritz (October 8, 2014). "This thing you should try: Maker's Mark Cask Strength bourbon". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Hayes, Annie (12 July 2016). "Beam Suntory GTR Unveils Maker's Mark Cask Strength". The Spirits Business. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  19. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (November 20, 2015). "Crank up the flow of red wax: Maker's Mark is boosting its bourbon output". U.S. News & World Report. Louisville, Kentucky. Associated Press. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  20. ^ "The 'Johnny Appleseed' of American Whiskey Has Died at 70". The Daily Meal. 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  21. ^ "Maker's Mark to begin selling new 101-proof bourbon at distillery in July". WDRB. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  22. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  23. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey,
  24. ^ Maker's Mark Bourbon Glossary[permanent dead link], official web site.
  25. ^ Maker's Mark Distillery Tour in Loretto, KY Watch it made in the U.S.A.
  26. ^ Bourbon – Maker's Mark Archived 2009-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Edencroft Fine Wines.
  27. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (2010-06-07). "Maker's Mark to uncap first new bourbon since '50s". Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  28. ^ Asimov, Eric (December 4, 2008). "Whiskey versus Whisky". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  29. ^ "Maker's Mark Ratings Summary from". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  30. ^ "Maker's Mark 46 Ratings Summary from". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  31. ^ Texas Monthly. p. 43.
  32. ^ Murphy, Morgan; Editors of Southern Living magazine (2014). Southern Living Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South's Favorite Foods. Oxmoor House. ISBN 978-0848743161.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  33. ^ "UK Wildcats Maker's Bottle". 2010-03-16. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  34. ^ "Rupp's Runts Maker's Bottle". Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  35. ^ "Unforgettables honored on Maker's Bottle". Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  36. ^ "Joe B. Hall Featured on Maker's Bottle". 2008-03-24. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  37. ^ a b c Patton, Janet (April 6, 2016). "Maker's Mark Joe B. Hall bottle goes on sale Friday". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  38. ^ "Rich Brooks Honored with Maker's Bottle". Lexington Herald-Leader. 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  39. ^ "Calipari to be Featured on Maker's Bottle". 2010-03-01. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  40. ^ "UK Great Tim Couch Honored On New Maker's Mark Charitable Bottle". 2012-03-20. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  41. ^ "UK basketball great Dan Issel graces Maker's Mark commemorative bottle".
  42. ^ Patton, Janet (April 1, 2014). "Maker's Mark, Keeneland unveil bottle with Mark Stoops". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  43. ^ "Maker's Mark Ambassadors". Maker's Mark. Retrieved 2020-12-01.

External links

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