Southern writer Walker Percy once said, “The joy of bourbon drinking is not the pharmacological effect of the [alcohol] on the cortex but rather the instant of the whiskey being knocked back and the little explosion of Kentucky U.S.A. sunshine in the cavity of the nasopharynx.”
For drinkers of the famously red wax-sealed bourbon brand Maker’s Mark, that little explosion just got a little smaller, as Quartz points out. The brand has announced that it will be reducing the alcohol content in the bourbon in order to compensate for the rising international popularity of the beverage.
According to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, bourbon sales now account for approximately 35 percent of the value of all spirits distilled in the United States. As the home of around 95 percent of the country’s bourbon production, Kentucky exports around 2.5 billion dollars worth of bourbon products each year to 126 countries. Beam Inc., the company that produces both Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam, says that Japan, Australia, and Germany are all strong markets for bourbon sales.
An email from Beam, Inc. states that the alcohol by volume in Maker’s Mark will decrease from 45 percent to 42 percent, moving the beverage down to 84 proof from its previous 90 proof. The statement also claimed the company has done “extensive testing with Maker’s Mark drinkers, and they couldn’t tell a difference.” You can read the whole letter here.
If we’re looking for an explanation for the rise in bourbon’s popularity, perhaps we should blame Don Draper and his affection for an Old Fashioned cocktail.