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Beam CEO: Maker’s Mark can become ‘first global craft whiskey’

Beam Suntory will begin “in earnest” to grow Maker’s Mark around the world following a major drive to increase its production capacity, the company’s CEO has said.

Maker’s Mark could be the “world’s first global craft whiskey”, according to Matt Shattock

Speaking to The Spirits Business last month, Matt Shattock, chairman and CEO of Beam Suntory, said that “because of these investments, 2018 will be a very important year”.

Just last week, parent company Suntory Holdings confirmed that Beam Suntory’s American whiskey capacity is set to benefit even further from a ¥100 billion (US$917m) investment, which will be phased over the next five years.

“You have to be far-sighted in this business because it takes between four and 10 years for whiskey to mature,” said Shattock. “So we took a decision a number of years ago strategically to invest, as we really believe in the long-term global growth potential of American whiskey and particularly our Bourbon brands.”

Maker’s Mark will be a “very big focal point for us globally”, added Shattock, who has plans to position the brand as the “world’s first global craft whiskey”.

The Bourbon has previously struggled to meet demand, and Beam prompted outcry from fans five years ago when it announced plans to lower the abv of Maker’s Mark to stretch dwindling supplies – a decision it later overturned.

“I think going forward there will be a lot of opportunities, but certainly for our heartland brand Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark,” Shattock claimed. “They are our two big global icon brands and they will be the big global focus for us – they have been for some time, and going forward they will be the focus of our global efforts.”

Shattock also revealed that Jim Beam is expected to experience its “highest growth in 30 years” this year. Following Suntory’s US$16bn acquisition of Beam Inc in 2014 and the creation of Beam Suntory, Shattock said Jim Beam’s sales in Japan have grown from 320,000 bottles annually to a predicted 8m this year.

For the full interview with Matt Shattock, see the February 2018 issue of The Spirits Business magazine, out soon.

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