Business Relations

The snarkiness of the whisk(e)y blogosphere has been on full display over the past week with the irresistible Maker's Mark story. Taking shots at a liquor company has never been easier (or more fun). I couldn't help painting a rather classist reponse last night, but the truth is I've got no problem with a company making more money. If you work hard to succeed, you definitely deserve success and I'm more than happy to add to it. The problem I have with Beam Global is that they're already making a ton of cash off this new whisk(e)y boom. They purchased Laphroaig and Ardmore in 2005, then moved in on Cooley this past year - three very successful distilleries. Diageo is now flirting with a ten billion dollar buy out offer. You've made it Beam Global! Ten billion dollars is likely coming your way. Congratulations.

But let's squeeze out just a bit more, someone thought. 3% more. Let's get 3% more volume per year. If Maker's Mark makes one million cases of booze per year, that's an extra 30,000. That means someone at Beam was willing to jeopardize the equity of their brand, the reputation of their slogan "we don't change," and the flavor profile of an iconic Bourbon for an extra 30,000 cases. Who greenlighted this idea?

I understand that money can be addictive. Believe me, we're in a boom period for booze so it must be tempting. People are hitting the jackpot like you wouldn't believe. Beam Global gave Bethenny Frankel $40 million for her Skinny Girl idea and everyone wants to be the next Pinnacle Vodka ($605 million - from Beam!). But this isn't a classist argument or a reaction against wealth and success. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm all for cashing in on a liquor brand. I wish I could do it! What bothers me is when a company displays a complete lack of respect for its clientele. The spin. The BS. The backtracking. The whole, "you spoke, we listened." It's completely patronizing. A patronizing of patrons, if you will.

That's what bothers me and that's what's bothering others. Don't talk to me like I'm an idiot.

-David Driscoll

UPDATE: Alcohol in one bottle of 'classic' Maker's Mark = 45% of 750 mL = 337.5 mL
Alcohol in one bottle of 'reduced' Maker's Mark = 42% of 750 mL = 315 mL
Number of bottles of 'reduced' Maker's Mark in one bottle of 'classic' Maker's Mark = 337.5 mL / 315 mL = 1.071429

So they actually would have made just over 7% more cases using the same amount of bourbon, or 71,429 in the example of a million cases. Thanks to SJ reader Ned for the math correction!

David Driscoll