The column still at Barton Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

Bottled in Bond is United States Government Guaranteed Bourbon Whiskey

Yes, you can purchase United States Government guaranteed whiskey. If you are new to bourbon or just beginning to add bottles to your collection, then you should consider a bottled in bond selection. We will examine one example of a bottled in bond selection later but first a little history.

Bourbon by its very definition is a highly regulated whiskey.  It can only be produced in the United States. However, there is a class within bourbon that increases the regulation and sets a standard that consumers can rely on. This was extremely important during the 1800’s. That class of bourbon is known as bottled in bond.

During the 1800’s the whiskey consuming public was often offered an inferior product that was frequently watered down or rectified with various impurities.  Because bourbon was usually sold out of the barrel, it was frequently watered down or cut with chemicals like turpentine, or even tobacco juice before it made its way to the consumer. In 1870, Old Forrester Bourbon was the first to be sold exclusively in glass bottles. Bottling gave Old Forrester the ability to better control the product, and it earned the reputation of a consistent and safe spirit.

However, the rectifiers and the distillers continued to be at odds about the purity of the product.  Distillers needed a way to distinguish their product and gain favor in the marketplace.

On March 3, 1897, President Grover Cleveland signed the Bottled in Bond Act essentially siding with the straight bourbon manufacturers versus the rectifiers. Essentially, the act placed the responsibility of ensuring the finished product was legitimate on the U.S. government. Bottled in bond now meant that the United State Government guaranteed whiskey. These standards included that the spirit must be 100 proof, it must age in a bonded warehouse for at least four years, nothing but water can be added, and it must be produced in the United States with the distillery location printed on the label.

It is easy to visualize how popular bottled in bond bourbon would become after some of the undrinkable products that were sold as bourbon. Now the consumer had a guarantee that the bourbon they were drinking was not altered in any way.

The Pure Food and Drug Act came to be nine years after the bottled in bond act.  Perhaps this shows how important the distilled spirits industry was to the country or shows that the politicians cared more about whiskey than food.

Add Bottled in Bond to your collection

You can purchase one bottle that will add bourbon history to your collection. Bottled in bond Old Forester 1897.  Old Forester is the only distillery in the country that is operated by the same family before, during, and after prohibition. It was also the first bourbon to sell exclusively in bottles. This 100 proof selection is one of the Old Foresters whiskey row series. It is a robust bourbon distilled to be similar to a 19th Century selection.  The mash bill for Old Forester 1897 is 72% corn, 18% Rye, and 10% barley. The distiller considers this a throwback to the way bourbon was made in the 19th Century. The bourbon itself has a bold finish with good caramel color. You will not be sorry adding this bourbon to your collection.

Old Forester has returned to Whiskey Row in Louisville Kentucky.  To find out more or to schedule a tour select this link  Old Forester Distillery