February 2013 – Watered Down Bourbon Misses the Mark

Watered Down Bourbon Misses the Mark

We enjoy the occasional bourbon, so we couldn’t help but notice the recent announcement by Maker’s Mark (see link) reversing their decision to add water to their whiskey.

In business, there are big decisions and there are small decisions.  A decision to dilute a premium product with water in response to capacity shortages is a big decision.

Maker’s Mark is a differentiated brand, not a mass-market brand, and it took their customers’ “overwhelming response” to re-awaken them to that fact.  How would Maker’s Mark founder T. William “Bill” Samuels Sr. have felt about this recent series of announcements?  Does the initial decision to dilute the bourbon align with his original mission for the company, or rather with a new mission imposed by the professional managers of the brand?

We can at least give Marker’s Mark a nod for listening to their customers, and for reversing their course quickly.  And only time will tell if there will be any lasting damage to the brand – even without the added water.

As always, we welcome your ideas and comments.