THE BOURBON RINSE
Bourbon has become so popular over the last few years that producers are forever trying to figure out tricks to produce more. In order to keep up with its demand, Maker’s Mark is getting creative and plans to rinse its bourbon barrels to get as much liquor out of them as possible.
The state-of-the-art rinse process would be part of a plan for $8.2 million in upgrades at its Kentucky distillery. The move comes less than four months after Maker’s Mark announced an ill-fated plan to add more water to the bourbon – decreasing its alcohol content, but stretching supply to meet strong demand worldwide. The company quickly walked back from the plan after a backlash from customers. Maker’s Mark now plans to extract additional gallons from its barreled bourbon with the process. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority offered them $1OO,OOO in rebates on construction materials and building fixtures if it moves forward with the plan. Maker’s Mark parent Beam has already developed a process to extract the whiskey trapped inside the barrels’ wood after they’re emptied, according to Beam’s description of Devil’s Cut, a bourbon that it makes using the extracted liquor.
With the years required to age bourbon, distillers have to predict the market far in advance. Buffalo Trace said recently its supply isn’t keeping pace with demand. Rather than take any extraordinary measures, the company said its supplies would simply be tighter. Buffalo Trace bourbons are aged from eight to 23 years. The company’s previous effort to extend supplies by adding extra water would have reduced the alcohol content of its signature bourbon to 84 proof from 9O proof, increasing supplies by up to 6 percent. Maker’s Mark, which ages its bourbon at least five years and nine months, also plans a new 5O,OOO-barrel aging warehouse. According to the state, production of Maker’s Mark has increased 1O percent a year for the last 2O years, and sales volume is expected to grow significantly.