End Of The World: Maker’s Mark To Water Down Its Bourbon

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Many moons ago, I alerted a select group of Interweb Tube users to the onset of stealth inflation via the decreasing size or quality of products offered at the same price.  There is a fancy-pants economic term for the this – hedonics – although I prefer less family-friendly terminology.  Today comes word of a classic example of this stealth inflation, which is particularly unfortunate.

Maker’s Mark announced it is reducing the amount of alcohol in the spirit to keep pace with rapidly increasing consumer demand.

In an email to its fans, representatives of the brand said the entire bourbon category is “exploding” and demand for Maker’s Mark is growing even faster. Some customers have even reported empty shelves in their local stores, it said.

After looking at “all possible solutions,” the total alcohol by volume of Maker’s Mark is being reduced by 3 percent.

So, it will take you 3% more of the stuff to arrive at your particular preferred state of warm, bourbonized haze.  All kidding aside, though, this is evidence of the inflation that your federal government says it can’t find any evidence of, which therefore gives it confidence to hold interest rates down for as far as the eye can see.  Not only is the Fed flirting with danger according to a well-accepted economic theory of inflation, but they are also aiding and abetting fiscal recklessness, which could, according to a more controversial theory, bring about inflation.

As a result of the federal government’s enormous debt and deficits, substantial inflation could break out in America in the next few years. If people become convinced that our government will end up printing money to cover intractable deficits, they will see inflation in the future and so will try to get rid of dollars today — driving up the prices of goods, services, and eventually wages across the entire economy. This would amount to a “run” on the dollar.

Either way, it seems the risk of inflation is alarmingly high.  Oh, and did I mention that inflation is very very bad?

The key reason serious inflation often accompanies serious economic difficulties is straightforward: Inflation is a form of sovereign default. Paying off bonds with currency that is worth half as much as it used to be is like defaulting on half of the debt. And sovereign default happens not in boom times but when economies and governments are in trouble.

If bond markets get spooked about inflation, the 40 cents or so on the dollar that we need to borrow to to sustain the Leviathan government they’ve built while we were sleeping will get very expensive to borrow.  Also, many many people, from granny to pension funds all over the world, will lose alot alot alot of money.  Last I checked, pension funds could not afford to lose any more money.

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  • borborygmi

    “Maker’s Mark announced it is reducing the amount of alcohol in the spirit to keep pace with rapidly increasing consumer demand.” This would be an example of free market capitalism. THe demand is so high they can’t make enough. THen you go on to blame the GOv’t. Total effing bs. They either produce more by adding on to their facility or they water down the product or you just pay more for your choice in Bourbon.

    • igx

      That doesn’t change the fact that it’s inflation not captured by the CPI, and inflation is only caused by two things: excess debt and excess money printing.

      Fish around on Zerohedge and make up your own mind about how bad it really is.

      • slackwarerobert

        Oh, I can assure you the politicians notice when booze quality goes down or price goes up.

        • igx

          Right, so THEY get to buy a better brand, WE have to suffer.

      • borborygmi

        inflation is only caused by two things: excess debt and excess money printing; I would be impressed if you knew what you were talking about.
        So now supply and demand don’t come into play. Look at prices in Western ND. Free Market Capitalism at its best or worst depending if you are selling or buying.

        “Maker’s Mark announced it is reducing the amount of alcohol in the spirit to keep pace with rapidly increasing consumer demand.” The valid question would be ; Why can’t they keep up with demand. Is it a capacity problem or is a shortage of material? THe quoted statement doesn’t answer those questions so taking it at face value “can’t keep up with demand” it is a supply and demand problem. IE Free Market Capitalism. Funny how the free market is working and it bites you in the a$$ so now it is the GOv’ts fault.

        • igx

          Dude, it’s being rationed by QUALITY change (as in DECREASE IN QUALITY) not price.

          This is happening everywhere. Smaller candy bars. Less stuff in the box or bottle. Horse meat for beef. One less button on a shirt. Thinner water and pop bottles. Fillers. The list is endless.

          • mickey_moussaoui

            like less intelligent voters elect lower quality presidents…we pay more and get less

          • borborygmi

            I agree with you on the bottom paragraph but those have nothing to do with Makers Mark. Unless you are calling them liars which I guess you are. You are so consumed with the gov’t is behind it when someone presents with you truth you can’t except it because “That’s because they are likely not telling the truth. Their margins are getting squeezed by all of the Fed easy money and interventionist government policy. ”

            You and the other conspiracy theorists would blame the gov’t because you are constipated. Paranoia is your middle name. I am surprised that D Baseball is the author of this. He is usually level headed or perhaps he needed a lead in for his screed on inflation and picked a poor example one that actually shows the antithesis of gov’t control , one that is a prime example of free market capitalism.

          • igx

            Keep believing that gold’s purchasing power for that last decade doesn’t mean anything. Most things that you are forced to buy have been going up. Now rents are going up. You are a perfect sheep being led to slaughter.

            All of the debt, QE, wealth inequality 1% vs. 99% etc. Look around.

          • borborygmi

            and it has absolutely nothing to do with Makers Mark.

          • Snarky

            How can you bitch about it when it is, according to the econ-pious, rational for people to skimp as much as possible? Is there a *real* price? Perhaps you value it like Marx does?

    • igx

      To be clear, dropping the quality and keeping the price the same is inflation. This isn’t debateable.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    I don’t get it. You can add your own water.

    • slackwarerobert

      Agreed, sell as powder and let us add our own water. I am at a loss why they just can’t raise the price till they lower the demand like a good capitalist would do. If demand is to high for production, then lower the demand.

      • igx

        That’s because they are likely not telling the truth. Their margins are getting squeezed by all of the Fed easy money and interventionist government policy.

        Central planning almost always make things worse not better.

        • camsaure

          It is cheap “rot gut” whiskey in the first place. I guess the welfare checks aint going as far these days. I wonder if Mad Dog 20/20 and Ripple will follow suit, unles the liberals can increase their welfare payments.

          • Dirty Harry

            Maker’s is a rare treat for me. I usually drink real “rot gut” whiskey like Old Crow, Ten High, Jim Beam, or whatever other crap they have on sale at my favorite package liquor establishment. My liver will not thank me later. The wife drinks bud, so I’m not sure who has the lower standards in our house.

  • Roy_Bean

    Did the tax drop by 3%? This sounds like a hidden tax increase.

    • igx

      That’s what inflation is, hidden wealth confiscation. The government gives us goodies and they have a REGRESSIVE inflation tax to cheapen the debt they use to pay for it.

      The ALREADY WEALTHY and the POLITICAL CLASS make out fine. The rest of us don’t.

      • borborygmi

        You have something against the wealthy? You stealth 99%

    • slackwarerobert

      Curse you, they must read this post. They are dropping from 90 proof to 84, that is 6 percent not three. Had to cut more to offset the higher taxes.

      • Roy_Bean

        Relax, 90 proof is 45%, 84 proof is 42%. It’s still only a 3% drop.

  • awfulorv

    There is a noticeable difference in the bran flakes I’ve purchased from Costco [thicker] and Safeway [thinner]. That’s really splitting hairs, as I’ve been told the farmer only gets 5-8 cents for the grain that goes into the making of a $3.50 box of cereal anyway. And Cheez-its is turning cartwheels lately, in offering various sizes intent, and no doubt successful, in confusing the Sh–t out of the consumer. And, I’ve noticed those price by oz. tags seem to be getting more difficult to read. Also, if you have one near you, check out WINCO foods, an employee owned, and thus non union store, where you save money, and get a huge selection on everything.

  • VocalYokel

    I quit drinking JD when they reduced their AC… if I want water in my booze I’ll go back to drinking Scotch / rocks.

    Due to the marketing, Maker’s Mark and some of the other ‘high-end’ bourbons are becoming yuppie whiskeys, and I can only wonder how many consumers will remain on board when the next big thing comes along.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    I like Black Maple Hill 16 year old small batch bourbon. Although Maker Mark 46 is good too. Now Woodford Reserve is a treat and Pappy van Winkle’s 23 year old is the bomb. But for something special you should treat yourself to Blanton’s Original Single Barrel. you will love it

  • reggy

    Stop buying their product. Problem solved.

  • bubba

    Unlike a lot of other premium specialty brands, maker’s mark is only made at the maker’s mark distillery. a few years back they were acquire by beam but kept distinct operations, including wharehousing and bottling. sales jumped significantly after the beam deal due to marketing and ad efficiencies, so much so that whiskey sales outpaced new aging stock. the stuff sits for five years minimum. with the introduction of 46, a higher proof and longer aged product, you would see more strain on aging stock. federal excise tax rates haven’t changed. you should blame to fuel ethanol subsidies for driving up the price of corn if you want to sound like good old mr. port. and by the way, woodford is just old old forester.

    • borborygmi

      Please don’t give them fact bubba. It just confuses them.

      • igx

        borborygmi I have a simple question: Why on earth would they not just increase the price? You know, work the SAME for more money? Because they are doing EVERYTHING RIGHT apparently? Because in this crappy economy — that is being destroyed slowly by the Fed and Obama –inflationism (not value = price) rules EVERYTHING.

        In other words, they are terrified of changing the price up–where it deserves to be–because of the lousy economy, where wages are not going up like the 70’s. WELCOME TO THE NEW STAGFLATION.

        The government wants to screw grandma MORE on her social security by LOWERING the CPI adjustment. They already did it with the Boskin Commission 20 years ago!

        The never ending Fed Zero Interest Rate Policy is distorting EVERYTHING including people’s ability to assess REALITY.

        • borborygmi

          they would like to meet the demand or at least another 3% or whatever you can produce by cutting it 3%. I myself would have raised the price. IF they are looking to market this as a premium brand people with money always have money so they don’t mind paying for the good stuff.

        • borborygmi

          I agree with you that they should raise the price. People are buying it now and will buy it even if the price goes up. If it is marketed as a premium brand the people buying it now have money and will always have money. THe only reason to take there approach is A. to increase profit and or B. market share. THe key is if the reduction has a negligible impact on quality ie taste. They obviously don’t think it will. Smart Marketing. They wouldn’t have had to announce this cut unless they felt they could gain an advantage in the market. I doubt if anyone would have noticed the difference going from 90 to 84 proof.
          Either way it has nothing to do with the gov’t . I take that back because of the gov’t and truth in labeling laws they would have to change the proof on the bottle otherwise they could cut and no one would know the difference. Hooray for gov’t.

          • igx

            Oh yes, increase market share though lowering the quality of a very old, well known brand. Yes that explains it.

          • borborygmi

            Do you think you could tell the difference between 90 and 84 proof? Unless you were one of the moonshiners I doubt it.

    • Bubba
    • Bubba
  • Snarky

    How, pray tell, do you think they get it down to 90 proof?
    Water.

    Tell Port to stop adding water to the quality of his frontpage posts.

    Now, lay out the reason why losing 6 proof off a specific brand of bourbon is caused by Obama. Let’s have it, step-by-step. I understand the emotional/suggestive jist of your post — what I am asking for is a normal, practical explanation of the relationship.

    Why isn’t it the retardo, doom-and-gloom, econ-pious whacknippery from you bloggers that is driving more people to drink and, in turn, watering down the bourbon? I think it’s the Tea Party that is the cause of the more-watery whiskey got-dammit.

  • LastBestHope

    I smell a “New Coke” marketing ploy. After everyone is talkin’ ’bout this “change” and emptying store shelves of the “old” stuff, the company will suddenly announce that they’ve Heard The Voice of the People and return to “Classic 90 proof”. The cheers of the crowd will be heard across the land and those who never drank MM before will rush out to buy a bottle.
    (at least that’s what some members of my family are hoping for ’cause this 84 proof news sucks)

    • borborygmi

      THere you have it marketing 201

  • snookchf

    Very interesting discussion. One of my favorite restaurants, in Cross Creek, Fl (look it up) was so successful they couldn’t keep up with the demand. They could not expand so they raised their prices. Sure enough, volume decreased (college crowd). In trouble now they reduced their portions and their quality. Then they closed their doors.

    Go Gators!

  • slackwarerobert

    I understand that drinking it by enema will get you drunker. Will 3% less make it the same as drinking the old stuff if I shove it up my backside? Will the wax on the bottle top help it slide in?

    • borborygmi

      try snorting it. Stings like hell but……whew you are off and running.

  • borborygmi

    news, Makers Mark, makers listen to the outcry from their consumers and change back to 90 proof. Free Market Capitalism at work. NOw they can raise the price accordingly and Donny and Saturday can pay more their hooch. Should give them goose bumps and still the gov’t had nothing do to with Makers Marks , makers decision. Hilarious

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