Maker's Mark Reverses Course On Lower Alcohol Content

The iconic brand Maker's Mark had planned to cut its alcohol content from 90 proof down to just 84, due to dwindling supply. Now, after a serious backlash from fans, the company has reversed its decision and will stick to the original alcohol content. Melissa Block hears from one liquor store owner in Louisville, Ky., about his customers' reactions to the decision.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

An update now to a story we reported last week, a story about a dramatic change in the lives of whiskey drinkers. Well, some of them at least - the ones who drink Maker's Mark bourbon, because Maker's Mark cut its alcohol content, watered it down from 90-proof to just 84. They said it was because they had to meet bigger demand.

JERRY RODGERS: People just went bananas.

BLOCK: This is Jerry Rodgers, who knows his Maker's.

RODGERS: I'm the owner of Party Mart in Louisville, Kentucky. And for 18 years, I worked for the Maker's Mark distributor and sold a whole bunch of Maker's Mark.

BLOCK: How does he drink his bourbon?

RODGERS: Manhattans.

BLOCK: And Jerry speaks for tens of thousands of Maker's Mark fans who protested the decision last week.

RODGERS: Your heart just sinks because that brand is important to a lot of people, emotionally. And you just think, gosh darn it. Why did that happen?

BLOCK: Well, like new ATM fees at Bank of America or new rental policies at Netflix, like New Coke, this is another case of a customer revolt causing a company reversal. Yesterday, Maker's Mark wrote simply on their Facebook page: You spoke. We listened. Here's proof.

RODGERS: The clouds parted. The sun came out. And all was right with the world.

BLOCK: The company says it will restore the alcohol level to its original 45 percent or 90-proof. And as for the lower alcohol version of Maker's Mark, the one vilified by bourbon drinkers around the world just last week...

(LAUGHTER)

RODGERS: Well, here's the fun part. You know, last week, it was gosh darn it, they're lowering the proof. They're changing my whiskey. I'm not going to drink it anymore. And now, the same people are calling and saying, hey, you got any of that collectors' 84-proof Maker's Mark?

(LAUGHTER)

RODGERS: And people are coming in buying this stuff by the case. And that's what it's been all day long. Hey, you got any of that collectors' whiskey? Oh, it's great.

BLOCK: Well, customers at Jerry Rodgers' liquor store might be racing to stock their bar with a bottle of the now limited edition, lower proof. But Jerry says he'd rather have the original formula.

RODGERS: If I had my druthers of running out of whiskey or having the lower proof, I'll run out of whiskey first. I'd rather do that, if I get my choice. And so, I got my choice. I got my wish.

BLOCK: That's liquor store owner Jerry Rodgers in Louisville, Kentucky. His wish came true last night when Maker's Mark announced that they would stick to the original alcohol content of their bourbon.

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