Beam Suntory has begun the travel retail roll-out of its Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Bourbon. The limited-edition expression is the distillery’s oldest release to date.
The travel retail roll-out begins this month in the US, at New York JFK and Los Angeles International Airports. The whisky will then make its debut at Sydney International Airport in December.
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is a blend of 12- and 11-year-old bourbon – 87% and 13%, respectively – bottled at cask strength (115.7 proof). The domestic RRSP is US$150.
Cellar Aged: a new bourbon series
The launch marks the start of a series of annual limited releases that will be available in selected domestic and travel retail locations around the world. The unique maturation approach of Cellar Aged will be consistent every year, but the specific blend of aged bourbon will vary based on which barrels are ready, by taste.
“For more than 65 years, ageing our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did,” noted Rob Samuels, eight generation whisky maker and grandson of the founders at Maker’s Mark.
“It’s not that we didn’t believe in it; we simply hadn’t found a way to do it that didn’t compromise on our taste vision – until now. Cellar Aged embodies an older whisky that’s distinctly Maker’s Mark. One rooted in challenging convention, delivering new flavour experiences from the environment that surrounds us, and building on a taste vision that’s been generations in the making.”
In New York JFK, the travel retail launch will be supported by an innovative digital advertising campaign, in partnership with Uber. The campaign is designed to drive footfall to the JFK Terminal 4 DFS store, where the new Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Bourbon is being showcased.
From 9 November 2023 until 15 January 2024, Legal Drinking Age (LDA)-compliant travellers who book an Uber transfer to the terminal will have access to curated visuals, info and click-through options via the Uber app at all key touchpoints on their journey. This campaign will be complemented by exclusive in-store Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged tastings at the airport, conducted by specialist Brand Ambassadors.
In Sydney International Airport, the travel retail introduction of Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged Bourbon will be supported by a high-profile pop-up activation, scheduled to run from December until January 2024.
This immersive engagement space will incorporate Taste and Scent experiences, interactive digital activities, exclusive travel-themed GWPs, and customised gift wrap that is unique to the airport location.
“We continue to drive our premiumisation strategy across our portfolio,” commented Beam Suntory Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail Manuel Gonzalez. “The American whisky category is experiencing rapid growth within the ultra-premium price segment, and Maker’s Mark will further support this.
“This new release is truly a milestone for Maker’s Mark – a product set to become the pinnacle of the brand, while staying close to its roots. To make it even more special, we will be offering annual limited-edition batches, with very selective GTR distribution, to amplify its global reach. We are confident this new introduction from Maker’s Mark will further raise the profile of our bourbon offer.”
He added: “Today’s international whisky consumers have high expectations whenever they travel. We are committed to creating enticing products, supported by impactful advertising campaigns and airport activations, to create memorable experiences, enhance our brand storytelling – and further drive sales and trade-up.”
To become Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, barrels of the distillery’s classic distillate will first spend around six years ageing in traditional bourbon warehouses, where they experience the Kentucky climate and its temperature swings season after season until they reach full maturity and can be called “Maker’s Mark.”
Selected barrels will be then moved into the distillery’s proprietary whisky cellar for an additional five to six years of ageing before being blended to taste and bottled. Built into the natural limestone shelf of the Kentucky hills, the cellar’s consistently cool environment slows down the tannic impact that occurs during maturation. This allows the bourbon to develop a deeper, darker flavour with hidden depths, but no bitterness, according to the brand.