Maker’s Mark to use ‘barrel rinse’ to stretch supply

3rd June, 2013 by Annie Hayes

Maker’s Mark plans to begin using a “barrel-rinse process” in an attempt to stretch its limited stocks of Bourbon to meet soaring demand.

Makers-Mark Bourbon shortage

Maker’s Mark is using Jim Beam Devil’s Cut’s “barrel rinsing” process to make its liquid go further

The process – which is expected to extract thousands of gallons during the production process – is part of an US$8.2 million investment in increasing capacity at its Kentucky distillery.

According to a filing from the state, the expansion includes the construction of a 50,000-barrel warehouse, as well as a new facility that will house the barrel-rinse process.

Brand owner Beam Inc has already developed a “barrel-rinse” process for its Jim Beam Devil’s Cut brand, which releases “the rich whiskey trapped inside the barrels’ wood after they’re emptied”.

While Beam Inc would not reveal the exact process of its barrel rinse, it confirmed the barrels are part-filled with water and “agitated”. The resulting water-whiskey is then used to dilute the Bourbon to the required abv.

The plans bear particular significance because earlier this year the company announced intentions to reduce Maker’s Mark’s abv from 45% to 42%, after a prolonged bout of supply shortages.

The decision was made in an effort to make the supply go further and support long-term growth, but a backlash from angry fans forced the company to reconsider. Since reversing the decision, sales of Maker’s Mark have risen by 44%.

The company, which was approved for $100,000 in state sales tax rebates, revealed its plans on Thursday, during the monthly meeting of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board.

Just last month Buffalo Trace Distillery also admitted a supply and demand issue, claiming shortages of its most popular whiskies are likely to happen any time soon and last for a few years.

“We won’t take drastic measures to mitigate the shortages, such as raising prices excessively, lowering the proof or reducing the age of our whiskies,” said Kris Comstock, Bourbon marketing director at Beam Inc. “We’ve made a commitment to quality that we’re not willing to compromise.”

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