Maker’s Mark® began with one family’s quest to create a bourbon they enjoyed drinking and sharing with friends. That’s hardly revolutionary today, but in 1953 it changed an industry.
Bill Samuels, Sr.’s quest to create Maker’s Mark began with his only copy of the family’s trusted, 170-year-old recipe. The one the sixth-generation distiller promptly set on fire, of course.
After accidentally burning a set of drapes in the process, Bill experimented with different flavoring grains, searching for a mash bill all his own. To save years of aging time, Bill baked several loaves of bread with various grain combinations instead of distilling them. His quick thinking not only saved time but also led him to swap out the traditional rye grain that is commonly used in bourbons for soft, red winter wheat. This replaced the hot bite of rye with the delicate sweetness that Maker’s® is known for today.
Through ingenuity, patience and a determined taste vision, Bill not only reinvented the family whisky, he and his collaborator – Margie – also revolutionized an industry.
The flavor of Maker’s Mark stood out from the crowd, so co-founder Margie Samuels wanted to ensure the bottle did the same on store shelves. It’s said that Margie is the reason most folks buy their first bottle of Maker’s Mark and Bill is the reason they buy their second.The shape of the bottle, look of the label, signature red wax topper and even the name itself are all thanks to Margie.
The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer (the first woman involved with a distillery to be inducted, by the way) hand-dipped the first bottles in her kitchen using a home fryer to melt the wax. Margie’s fried chicken was never quite the same, and neither was the whisky business. While every sip of Maker’s® tastes just like the one before it, no two bottles are exactly alike. Those red tendrils give each bottle its own unique flourish.