After announcing a reduction in the alcohol content of Maker's Mark, its makers took questions from Quartz about the process—and why it's necessary. First off, why isn't the company simply raising its prices to respond to increased demand? Well, the company founder "did not like ostentatiousness," says former boss Bill Samuels. "It deliberately was not marketed as an image-transfer brand." Quartz reminds Samuels that the slogan was once, "It tastes expensive ... and is."
Now, though, it tends to be a mid-market brand, says COO Rob Samuels. The drink Maker's 46 is more expensive and higher-proof, so the watering-down could be seen as a means of diversifying. To cut the alcohol by volume from 45% to 42%, makers will increase the amount of added water; most bourbon brands add some. The only other way to increase supply would be less aging, but that makes the drink too "grainy." "All we’ve asked is that folks keep an open mind until they taste," Rob Samuels says. Click through for the full interview. (Read more Maker's Mark stories.)