Meet the Maker's Mark® family.

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.

Founder Bill Samuels Sr. Smelling Bourbon
Founder Bill Samuels Sr. Smelling Bourbon

Born to bourbon Bill Samuels, Sr.

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.

Give me a bourbon that won't blow my ears off.

Bill Samuels, Sr.
Black and White Photo of Bill Samuels Jr
Black and White Photo of Bill Samuels Jr

Bourbon revolutionary

Through ingenuity, patience and a determined taste vision, Bill not only reinvented the family whisky, he and his collaborator – Margie – also revolutionized an industry.

Margie Samuels: Making her mark.

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.

My aim was to bring good taste to tastes good.

Margie Samuels
Printed Maker's Mark Labels and Wax Stamps
Printed Maker's Mark Labels and Wax Stamps

The Name & SIV

When naming this new bourbon, Margie was inspired by the "maker's marks" that pewter whitesmiths put on their best work. Her mark features a star for Star Hill Farm, the Bardstown farm where the family resided.

Margie's "S" is for Samuels, and the Roman numeral IV symbolizes her husband's status as a fourth-generation distiller. (Son, Bill, Jr., later discovered that his father was actually a sixth-generation distiller. But, SIV stuck and is here to stay.)

Blueprint Papers of Distillery
Blueprint Papers of Distillery

The Distillery

Margie was much more than a homemaker, but she sure knew how to make distillery visitors feel at home. Some even credit her with inventing bourbon tourism. Margie ensured the distillery would receive the same attention to detail as the whisky, from its picturesque landscape to its distinctive red shutters. Margie even made Bill, Sr., agree that for every dollar that went into the bourbon, another would go into restoring the distillery's buildings and grounds.

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Bottle of Maker's Mark Bourbon Beside Pot of Red Wax
Bottle of Maker's Mark Bourbon Beside Pot of Red Wax

The Bottle

If character came in a bottle, it might look something like this one. Margie's signature red wax topper isn't the only feature that helps Maker's Mark stand out from the crowd. The shape of the bottle, look of the label and even the name itself are all thanks to Margie the marketer. That square shape was inspired by Margie's collection of 19th-century cognac bottles – as was the wax that typically sealed them.

Creating Maker's Mark 46 was trickier than working on the damn Polaris missile.

Bill Samuels, Jr.

Bourbon is nature, distilled.

Rob Samuels

See the distillery for yourself.

There's a reason so many generations of the Samuels family drew inspiration from this place. We'd love to show you the special reasons why.