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VERMOUTH - when did they start watering it down?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

As an experienced martini drinker, I have long been accustomed to Vermouth at 18% alcohol content.  I have just noticed that most, if not all brands are now 16%.  When did this happen?


I may have missed it because a few years ago I took up Trader Joe's Ponti brand Italian dry vermouth which is, as of this writing at least, still 18%.  Like most of TJ's stuff, it is fairly decent and very reasonably priced.  M & R or Noilly Prat it's not but, sufficiently diluted with cheap vodka, I can certainly live with it.


I completely understand this change as part on the ongoing repackage-with-less-contents marketing practice but... it NOTHING sacred??


Mike mad.gif

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #2 of 10
They did that years ago to Gordon's Gin here in the UK. irritating, isn't it.
post #3 of 10
I recall a news article from a year or two ago that discussed how Maker's Mark was thinking about (or maybe atually did) water down their bourbon to offset the increased cost of production and demand by stretching their available stock. I think they recinded that decision. I seem to recall a comment by the company that "the change is so insignificant people that shouldn't notice the difference." Lately it seems that many food producers are bilking the public by charging more for less... or if they are nice, charing the same for less.
post #4 of 10
p.s. No, nothng is sacred anymore.
post #5 of 10

Maker's Mark backed off the idea of reducing the alcohol content of their bourbon after a hugely negative reaction from their customers and tons of media attention. They were initially considering doing so because they could not keep production levels of their bourbon adequate to meet the demand and they said reducing the alcohol content would allow them to produce more bourbon.


 After a lot of media attention they decided that occasional shortages were preferable to losing tons of loyal customers who made clear they had no interest in purchasing what they perceived to be an inferior product when there are so many other good bourbons available these days.

post #6 of 10
I was told that The reasoning behind the reduction in the UK from over 40 per cent to 37.5 appears to be a way of paying less duty. All I know is that you can get full strength Gordon's in overseas countries, but I've never seen it for sale here.biggrin.gif
post #7 of 10

You're right, Ishbel, duty on alcohol over here is calculated per degree of alcohol, per liter. A stupid marketing trick is giving people the impression they pay a good price by simply lowering the alcohol percentage! Duty on alcohol makes the major part of the sales price of alcohol, not the product cost.

Same marketing trick is putting less cigarettes in a pack.

post #8 of 10
In psychology there's a thing called a "just noticeable difference". If you make a minor change to something and that changes slightly less than the just noticeable difference, it literally won't be noticed by people. That slight drop in alcohol by makers Mark or other brands may be set up to be just under the just noticeable difference. If it were done that way it wouldn't be noticed in terms of taste. However with truth in lending laws and the actual amount of alcohol clearly labeled on bottles, it's still noticeable in another way. I'm not sure what I think about marketing by slimming down the product just under I just noticeable difference. I know I wouldn't notice by taste, but it seems like it's a slippery slope.
post #9 of 10
Oh, believe me, you can DEFINITELY taste the difference. biggrin.gif
post #10 of 10

Exactly, glwestcott.  Additionally, JND is a statistical estimate so while it works for most people it doesn't necessarily work for all.. depending on how one calculates the JND.  While most won't notice, some will, and others may not even if more alcohol was removed.  :)


What gets me is that they seem to have little consideration for the concept of JND when they downsize the content quantity or increase the prices!

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