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What Is Bottled In Bond Bourbon & Why Is It Popular? (2022)

Last Updated on August 6, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Innovation in spirits hits shelves almost every day, but one of the most notable standards is the Bottled-in-Bond designation on whiskeys. If you are new to whiskey, you may find the term mysterious.  

Today, we will go over the world’s highest quality standard for whiskey and help you answer the question – what is Bottled-in-Bond bourbon?

All About Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon

All About Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon

Transparency and Provenance. Bottled-in-Bond bourbon can be equated to these two words. It is one of the earliest examples of protecting consumers from drinking tainted whiskeys. 

Drinking concerns started in the 19th century, so some whiskey makers demanded an end to counterfeit blending and required legal protections for high-quality bourbons.

There have been age statements and transparency concerns, so with the help of the BiB, consumers will be guaranteed that they are drinking the best of the best. 

Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon Act 

Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon Act 

The Bottled-In-Bond Act is a consumer protection law that protects people from buying poor quality and other spirits disguised as bourbons.

Previously, there were no labeling requirements on high-quality bourbons, so to be labeled as one, the Bottled-in-Bond of 1897 was made. 

To be labeled as a Bottled-in-Bond whiskey [1], a bourbon should be: 

  1. Made by one distiller only
  2. Made in a single distilling season (January to June) or (July to December)
  3. Aged for at least four years in wood casks (new charred oak barrels for bourbons)
  4. Stored in a Federal bonded warehouse
  5. Contains 50% ABV (100 Proof)
  6. No blending and flavoring
  7. Reduce in barrel proof using pure water only
  8. Labeled with real distillery name and unique D.S.P. number

Interesting Facts 

Interesting Facts 

History

It was common in the 1800s to make adulterated whiskey by mixing legitimate whiskey with caramel coloring, brown sugar, wood chips, and neutral grain spirit.

With this, John G. Carlisle, Secretary of Treasury, and Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. worked to set the standard for real whiskey. 

The Act aims to ensure that the consumers know where and who produced the product and get the good stuff. In 1906 it was amended by adding “straight whiskey” for water added and “imitation” for coloring and additives.

However, in 1909, President Taft amended the rule with “blended” whiskey on whiskeys with added neutral spirits. 

How This Bourbon Type Resurfaced 

How This Bourbon Type Resurfaced 

Higher proof became less popular in the 70s and 80s than lighter and blended bourbon. While other distilleries still made BiB spirits, most bottles were left to collect dust on the bottom shelves.

In 2014, many craft distilleries began to resurface the Bottled-in-Bond label because of the popularity of higher-proof bourbons and the rise in demand in the craft-bartending community.

The Bottled-in-Bond designation is more than a marketing strategy because many brands have adopted it to ensure appreciation and authenticity in their whiskey production. 

Until today, Bottled-in-Bond is the world’s highest quality standard in American distilling heritage.

Despite the restriction, the prices are not debilitating because many distillers today believe that the production requirement will give uniqueness between one craft distillery and another. 

Alcohol Proof 

All Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys contain one alcohol proof- 100 (50% ABV). The alcohol proof will always be the same because it is one of the requirements by the Federal government to have a bonded label.

The 100 proof makes sense because it gives more flavor that will stand up well in cocktails. 

How It’s Made

How It’s Made

Based on the Bottled-in-Bond Act, the BiB distilled spirits should only be made by one distillery in one distilling season (Spring or Fall).

Bourbons should be made with at least 51% corn [2], distilled for not more than 160 proof, and aged for at least four years in new charred oak barrels.

Distillers should store it in a Federally bonded warehouse before bottling at exactly 100 proof (50% ABV).  

What Makes It Popular Today 

Innovation in spirits reaches the liquor stores and shelves almost daily- cold brew liqueurs, spirits made sans alcohol, and color-changing gins.

Bottled-in-Bond labels, which started more than a century ago, are getting popular again because they still hold their standard. 

Bottled-in-Bond is considered a phrase that will be a craft certification for whiskey today. It is a mark of provenance and transparency that is relevant in dozen distilleries and Kentucky distillers today. 

Can Any Bourbon Be Labeled Bottled-In-Bond?

Can Any Bourbon Be Labeled Bottled-In-Bond? Yes, any bourbon can be labeled Bottled-In-Bond as long as it meets the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897.

All New Riff whiskey is Bottled-in-Bond along with other brands like Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Old Forester, Old Tub, Henry McKenna, and Evan Williams White Label. 

Amid pressure, the regulation is strictly imposed to protect the consumers and the integrity of distilleries. 

Bottled-In-Bond Bourbons To Try 

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7-Year Bourbon

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7-Year Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $60.49 (Drizly)

Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery

Alcohol Content: 50%

Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Average Price: Roughly $18.99/750 ml (Drizly)

Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery

Alcohol Content: 50%

1792 Bottled In Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

1792 Bottled In Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Roughly $36.83

Distillery: Barton 1792 Distillery

Alcohol Content: 50%

FAQs

Is bottled-in-bond bourbon stronger than cask strength?

No, Bottled-in-Bond is not stronger than cask strength because the alcohol content of Bottled-in-Bond spirits is limited to 50% only. Cask strength may contain above 50% ABV and is not watered down, unlike BiB. 

Is Bottled-in-Bond the most expensive bourbon type?

No, Bottled-in-Bond is not an expensive bourbon type. While you can find expensive BiB bottles, some brands offer BiB at affordable prices, like Evan Williams and Barton 1792.  

Final Thoughts

Bottled-in-Bond bourbons are not just a market segment but a world quality standard for spirits. It should be made by one distillery in a single season and aged for a minimum of four years in a warehouse under government supervision. 

Unlike other spirits with no distinction, the set of legal requirements of the BiB Act will help both the consumers and the distilleries.  

References:

  1. https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-27/chapter-I/subchapter-A/part-5/subpart-F/section-5.88
  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html

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