“Bottled-in-Bond” is a term seen on bottles of spirits – primarily Whiskey – in America. Many new Whiskey drinkers have written to BevX asking about its significance. Unlike nearly useful terms such as “craft” or “small batch” Bottled-in-Bond has real meaning, as well as historical importance.
The term Bottled-in-Bond comes from the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. In simple terms the Bottled-in-Bond Act states the following: a spirit must be made at one American distillery, from spirit produced within the same calendar year, aged in wood for a minimum of four years, aged in locked – government supervised warehouses, and bottled at no less than 100 proof (50% abv).
All of these requirements may seem simple today but in the late 19th century fraudulent and sometimes dangerous Whiskey was frequently sold. Bonded Whiskey was a guarantee to the consumer that the spirit would be free of additions, aged, and less diluted than the typical Whiskey of the time.
As the popularity of Whiskey waned in the USA in the middle 20th century these old-school brands being sold as Bottled-in-Bond Whiskies frequently occupied the bottom shelf and could be obtained at bargain prices.
In our current Whiskey renaissance these Bottled-in-Bond brands and bottlings frequently get mistaken simply as “grandfather Whiskies” and ignored by the younger crowd seeking the latest craze. Longtime Whiskey lovers know that Bottled-in-Bond means quality and most often it also means value. Let’s keep the secret as the last thing we want is to lose our last reliable stash of quality, bargain Whiskey.