Bottled in bond

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A 750 ml bottle of J.T.S. Brown Bottled in Bond Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Note the writing in the red banner.

Bottled in bond is a label for American-made distilled beverage that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal regulations contained in the United States government's Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits,[1] as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. A reaction to widespread adulteration in American whiskey, the act made the federal government the guarantor of a spirit's authenticity, gave producers a tax incentive for participating, and helped ensure proper accounting and the eventual collection of the tax that was due. While the regulations apply to all spirits, in practice, most bonded spirits are whiskeys.

To be labeled as Bottled-in-Bond or Bonded, the liquor must be the product of one distillation season (January to December) and one distiller at one distillery. It must have been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 (U.S.) proof (50% alcohol by volume). The bottled product's label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled.[2][3] Only spirits produced in the United States may be designated as bonded.

Some consumers consider the term as an endorsement of quality, but many producers consider it archaic and do not use it.[3] Even products that could qualify for the designation are not labeled as such.[citation needed] However, since bottled-in-bond whiskey must be the product of one distillation season, one distillery and one distiller (whereas ordinary straight whiskey may be a product of the mingling of straight whiskeys (of the same grain type) with differing ages and producers within a single State), it may be regarded as a better indication of the distiller's skill – making it similar in concept to a single malt whisky, small batch whiskey, or single barrel whiskey. Bonded whiskeys are also valued for their higher-than-usual alcohol content (100 proof rather than 80 proof), as this means that the product contains a less diluted spirit with correspondingly more flavor. However, they are more expensive to produce, since aged whisky is more expensive to produce than water, and therefore a higher-proof whiskey is more expensive to produce than a lower-proof whiskey.

History of the Bottled-in-Bond Act[edit]

One purpose of the Bottled-in-Bond Act was to create a standard of quality for Bourbon whiskey.[4] Prior to the Act's passage, much of the whiskey sold as straight whiskey was anything but. So much of it was adulterated out of greed – flavored and colored with iodine, tobacco, and other substances – that some perceived a need for verifiable quality assurance. The practice was also connected to tax law, which provided the primary incentive for distilleries to participate. Distilleries were allowed to delay payment of the excise tax on the stored whiskey until the aging of the whiskey was completed (and the supervision of the warehouse ensured proper accounting and the eventual collection of the tax). This combination of advantages led a group of whiskey distillers, led by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. (creator of Old Taylor bourbon), joined with then Secretary of the Treasury John G. Carlisle to fight for the Bottled-in-Bond Act. To ensure compliance, Treasury agents were assigned to control access to so-called bonded warehouses at the distilleries.

Current bonded spirits[edit]

In addition to producing bonded bourbon,[5] some companies produce bonded rye whiskey, corn whiskey, and apple brandy.[6] Bottled-in-bond products include the following brands:


  1. ^ "Chapter I--Alcohol And Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau, Department Of The Treasury ; Part 5—Labeling And Advertising of Distilled Spirits". TITLE 27--Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms. US Government. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Bottled in Bond Law & Legal Definition". Definitions. USLegal, Inc. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Flicker, Jonah (September 24, 2015). "Everything you need to know about bottled-in-bond". Paste (magazine) Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Bottled In Bond". the Bourbon Observer. Retrieved 14 March 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  5. ^ "Bottled In Bond". The Whiskey Professor. Bernie Lubbers. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Laird files". Drink Boston. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Mellow corn page at
  8. ^ "Old Grand-dad Bourbon (Bottled In Bond) Review". Sour Mash Manifesto. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Review: Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy, bottled-in-bond". Sipology. Retrieved 14 March 2013.