All rejoice, March 3rd marks a very special day in the Bourbon world – National Bottled-in-Bond Day! And it should come as no surprise that 2 Kentuckians were at the epicenter of turning the big wheels of big government and spearheading a monumental change in the booze industry of America.
What is “Bottled-in-Bond”?
1897’s Bottled-in-Bond Act was the first major legislation providing specific standards of quality for American Whiskey. It guaranteed you knew who made your whiskey and that no funny business occurred from after the time it was initially produced. Hard to imagine now but back in those days, it was truly The Wild Wild West and a lot could happen to your whiskey from producer to barkeeper. Outside whiskey flavoring and coloring additives such as tobacco spit, tea, sulfuric acid, turpentine, and more unscrupulous methods were not uncommon.
Regulation was desperately needed to ensure not only a quality product was being served, but a safe one at that. The “BiB Act” was designed and implemented to accomplish precisely these two critical measures.
Of huge significance, BiB was the very first consumer protection act implemented by the government in American history! It even predates the 1906 Pure Food & Drug Act.
Rules of Bottled-in-Bond:
- The product of one distillation season (either January to June or July to December), at one distillery, by one distiller
- Aged in a federally bonded warehouse under government supervision for at least four years
- Bottled at 100 proof
- Labeled with both the location of the distillery and the bottling
- Produced in the USA
Essentially, you knew were it was made, a bare minimum length of aging had occurred, and the liquid was at a bare minimum proof (not diluted).
The Kentucky Connection: Making It Happen
John G. Carlisle (1834 – 1910)
Northern Kentucky’s Covington area was the native stomping grounds to the most important politician backing BiB – US Secretary of Treasure John G. Carlisle (resume also boasts US Senator, POTUS candidacy, and a bunch of other gov stuff). As a proud Kentuckian, he was deeply immersed in the Bourbon world as he, along with close friend E.H. Taylor Jr. fought hard to push BiB through. To make something actually happen in politics, it takes a bold politician to stand behind it through all adversity and see it through.
Covington has started an annual event tradition honoring his legacy. To learn more – CLICK HERE.
Edmund Hayes “E.H.” Taylor, Jr. ((1830-1923)
Ever the dapper aristocrat, E.H. Taylor Jr. is a legendary name in the distilling industry. He started or owned seven distilleries in his lifetime. In the 1800’s, Taylor purchased a small distillery on the banks of the KY River, naming it O.F.C. (Old Fashioned Copper). That distillery is now known as Buffalo Trace. Taylor would implement colossal distilling changes and improvements in his tenure there. His namesake is honored today by Buffalo Trace with a coveted portfolio of whiskies.
Taylor would later go on to build his namesake distillery, “Old Taylor Distillery”, now called Castle & Key which has been restored and revived to its former decadent glory within the last decade.
Taylor’s astounding resume includes being a key figure in the passage of the 1897 BiB Act. A man known for elegant taste and uncompromising quality, he sits at the epicenter of one of the most important legislative measures in American history. His name now stands as a badge of integrity for American Whiskey.
Currently, Bottled-in-Bond has approached en vogue status. Long standing BiB brands like Old Grandad and Evan Williams have become faves of the bartending community and a darling of the American cocktail scene in recent years. We’ll also hat tip long time BiB advocate, “Whiskey Professor” Bernie Lubbers, currently with Heaven Hill, for his passion of the BiB Act way before it was “in”.
We hope you enjoyed this historical run down while enjoying your favorite BiB Bourbon sipper! And if you’re glass is empty, well, it’s time for a refresher;)