Bond, Bottled in Bond

September 15, 2020

For some reason, we like buzzwords. “Artisanal, “social media influencer” or one that always stumps me “synergy”. You see these words pop up all the time. But it’s not often that a buzzword is a government-protected designation that serves a real purpose.

Lately, you might have come across whiskies or bourbons that carry the words “bottled-in-bond”. Again, you might believe this is just a set of buzzwords created to make you think that this specific spirit has more going for it. And in a very real way, it does.

Up until 1897 whiskey was often tainted with additives like neutral grain spirit, iodine, tobacco, or worse, allowing shady brands to save a few bucks by selling dangerous whiskey to unsuspecting consumers. And in a rare twist people in the United States actually wanted the government to stand up and do something about it! So in 1897 the Bottled In Bond Act was signed into law. This means the bourbon was made at a single distillery, by one distiller in one distillation season, aged for at least four years in a federally bonded and supervised warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof. In effect, it was America’s first consumer protection law, predating the Pure Food and Drug Act. In short, it ensured the quality of any spirit labeled “whiskey.”

And as a side note, bartenders love the higher proof that bottled in bond whiskies must adhere to. Higher proof whiskies make for a much better cocktail. I guess you could say there is a lot of “synergy” between the two.