Despite examining this topic previously, it is time for a new look at bottled in bond.

March 3, 1897, the Bottled in Bond Act became law.  It was significant in protecting the American consumer from rectifiers who sold whiskey that was dangerous.  This act is often considered the first consumer protection act in the United States. One hundred and twenty-three years ago, the government stepped in to protect people from unknown additives that could be toxic. To protect the consumer, the government would place a green label or stamp on the bottle if it met the following conditions.

  1. Must be distilled in a single distillery in the same distilling season.
  2. Aged for a minimum of 4 years and bottled at 100 proof.
  3. The label must identify the distillery that made the whiskey and identify the bottling location if different from the distillery.
  4. Only water can be added.

The Green Stamp

Placing the green stamp on bottles that met the criteria of bottled in bond. This stamp gave the consumer confidence that what they were buying and drinking was authentic and safe. Interestingly, the green government stamp is no longer required when it was discontinued in 1984 by the deficit reduction act.  Not only was the stamp no longer required, but government-supervised warehouses no longer required an actual agent to supervise barrel storage. It went from a human agent to a computerized method of verifying proper storage and aging.

McKenna, New Riff, and Old Forester Bourbons.
Three modern Bottled in Bond bourbons. Note that New Riff has the words bottled in bond stamped in the bottle.

Bottled in Bond today

The new standards to use the terms BIB or bonded.

  1. Spirits must be the same kind created by the same class of materials.
  2. It is distilled in the same season by one distiller in one distillery.
  3. It is aged for a minimum of four years in wooden containers where the distillate comes in contact with the wood.
  4. The product is not altered by the addition or deletion of any substance. Chill proofing, filtration, and other physical treatment are acceptable as long as it does not involve the addition of any substance that will remain in the finished product or change its class or type.
  5. Add water only to reduce the proof.
  6. Bottle at 100 proof.
  7. The bottle label must contain the real or trade name of the distillery that produced and warehoused the spirits, and the DSP number of the distillery that produced and the plant number of the bottler if different.  

Some bourbons that meet the criteria of being bottled in bond do not even advertise that fact.  However, bottled in bond remains a reminder that the product meets specific criteria, and many bourbon followers see it as a guarantee of quality.  In the era of unlimited sourcing by many brands, BIB remains a tradition and guarantee of quality. You only have to read about deaths from tainted alcohol in India, Mexico, and other countries to understand the importance of the Bottled in Bond act of 1897. It was designed to protect the consumer from tainted or dangerous products. A new look at Bottled in Bond shows guarantees the product meets a standard of quality.