March 3rd marks the 124th anniversary of Congress passing the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. It was one of the first consumer protection laws passed and preceded the Pure Drug and Food Act by almost a decade.
When the 54th Congress passed this act, they set standards for distilled spirits that had to be met in order to qualify as “bottled in bond”. While we tend to think of bottled in bond as it refers to bourbon, there are rye, corn whiskey, and apple brandy bottled in bond spirits as well.
To be qualify as bottled in bond, the distilled spirit must:
- Be bottled at 100 proof
- Aged for a minimum of four years
- Distillation must be from one distillery only
- It was distilled in one distilling season (fall or spring) only
- The name of the distiller must be on the label
- Must identify the bottling location if different from the location of the distiller or distillery
- Only pure water could be added
If a distilled spirit met those qualifications, a green stamp was put on the bottle as a measure of its quality. The law had very strict penalties for counterfeiting these stamps. This law in now codified in the Code of Federal Regulations under Title 27 CFR 5.42.
The Whiskey Professor, Bernie Lubbers, is quite the fan of BIB bourbons and whiskies. He calls it, “the most restricted of the most restricted whiskies!”
So, for that matter, am I! At last count, and I could be wrong on this, I think I have 10 or 11 different bottles of bottled in bond bourbon and corn whiskey. To the great consternation of the Complementary Spouse, I’m always on the lookout for a new one – even though it would take me years to finish the bourbon I have on hand.
So on this, the 124th anniversary of the Bottled in Bond Act, let us lift a glass filled preferably with something bottled in bond to Congress actually getting something right for once.