Thursday, February 21, 2013

Whiskey Lists: Bottled in Bond Whiskeys

Our last whiskey list looks at Bottled in Bond whiskeys. The Bottled in Bond act was passed in 1897 to restore some consumer confidence to the whiskey industry. It guaranteed to consumers that whiskey labeled "bottled in bond" would conform to certain standards of quality. Even through mid-century, the bottled in bond ("BIB") label was a sign of quality. In an early 1960s catalog I have from an old Los Angeles liquor store, the bourbons are divided into regular and bonded.

A bonded whiskey has to conform to the following standards. It must be (1) made of one type of whiskey (i.e. bourbon or rye); (2) produced by one distillery in one distilling season; (3) aged at least four years; (4) 100 proof/50% abv. (Any spirit can be bonded, but whiskeys are the most common).

Today, bonded whiskey has faded from the shelf, and few people beyond major whiskey nerds know what the term means. I've tried to put together a list of all of the bonded whiskeys that are currently available, though many of them are available only in the Kentucky area. Heaven Hill seems to make the widest variety of bonded whiskeys; indeed, more than half of the labels listed below are from Heaven Hill.

Current Bottled in Bond Whiskeys

David Nicholson 1843 (Luxco, distilled by Heaven Hill)
EH Taylor (except the Barrel Proof) (Buffalo Trace)
Evan Williams BIB (Heaven Hill)
Heaven Hill BIB (several expressions)(Heaven Hill)
Henry McKenna (Heaven Hill)
JTS Brown BIB (Heaven Hill)
JW Dant (Heaven Hill)
Mellow Corn (corn whiskey) (Heaven Hill)
Old Bourbon Hollow (Beam)
Old Fitzgerald BIB (Heaven Hill)
Old Grand-Dad BIB (Beam)
Old Heaven Hill BIB (Heaven Hill)
Old Potrero Hotalings (Anchor)
Old Tub (Beam - distillery only)
Rittenhouse 100 (Heaven Hill)
TW Samuels (Heaven Hill)
Tom Moore BIB (Barton)
Very Old Barton BIB (Barton)

If I left any out, please let me know (and thanks to everyone who helped add to my high proof and extra aged whiskey lists).


NP said...

i thought it was 'at least 100 proof' and therefore could be higher than 50% alc no?

Tom said...

Maker's Mark is Bourbon Whisky BIB, according to the COLA Registry.

sku said...

NP, nope it has to be exactly 100 proof, no more.

Anonymous said...

Rock Hill Farms meets the BIB requirements although it's not labeled as such. Same for the standard Four Roses single barrel.

sku said...

Tom, yeah, you can't trust those designations.

Anonymous said...

John J Bowman Single Barrel meets it as well even though it is not labeled as such

Anonymous said...

Beam's Old Tub is also a BIB. It is only sold at the visitor center at this time

Greg said...

Steve - Old Charter also did a BIB

sam k said...

Excellent work on these diverse and very interesting American whiskey lists, Sku.

Another job well done and another service to the whiskey community ably rendered!

Trey said...

Well, I feel like a broken record here. I know it's not really currently available, but the WT American Spirit was also BIB. To my knowledge it is the only BIB ever released by WT.

sku said...

Trey, I didn't include the American Spirit because it's no longer being produced, but I believe you're correct that it was Wild Turkey's only BIB.

SteveBM said...

I thought one of the stipulations was that the whiskey must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse under government supervision? Not just aged 4 years in any old warehouse. Maybe I'm missing something?

sku said...

SteveBM, that's right, but pretty much all spirits warehouses are bonded, which is just a tax procedure to allow goods to be stored in the warehouse without being taxed.

Until the 1980s, there was actually a government agent on the premises of a bonded warehouse that was the only person who could open and close it, but that is no longer the case.

Lazer said...

you forgot about wild turkey 101, knob creek, and four roses single barrel. Those are some of my favorite BIB's.

sku said...

Lazer, BIBs have to be 100 proof which counts out Wild Turkey. Even those that are 100 proof have to be from a single distilling season and Knob Creek makes no such claim.

As some have noted, any single barrel at 100 proof and over four years old (such as Four Roses or Rock Hill Farms) could have a BIB designation, but I'm only listing those that are actually BIB. That means that not only do they comply with the requirements, but they list the distillery number on the label.

BIBs are the only American whiskeys required to disclose the distillery on the label.

Anonymous said...

Since producers already must have only whisky from a particular "distilling season" (whatever that is), I wonder why producers do not try to distinguish their BIB in offerings by making yearly vintages. That way we could compare the virtues of say a 2006 OGD BIB with a 2007 VOB BIB. It seems like vintages are popular with the yearly Evan Williams single barrels yet not possible with many others where whiskies do not have an age statement (Buffalo Trace) or only an at least so many years old statement like Knob Creek ( i.e. at least 9). Perhaps vintages could put more life into this moribund category?

Alegro Borracho said...

Sku, I have a late add to this thread: I.W. Harper used to release bottled-in-bonds at 100 proof. Some years ago, I found a number of these labeled as distilled in Spring 1976 and bottles in Fall 1982 from Frankfort, DSP KY 1. I have found these both in 750 ml and 1L.

A. Borracho

Anonymous said...

B.K. I have a bottle of I. W. Harper 100 Proof Whiskey. Bottled in Bond. Made fall of 1949, bottled fall of 1954. I this something Ishould open and drink or save and sell? What is it worth?

sku said...

Anon, IW Harper isn't particularly heralded by collectors, but that's an old one. I would ask the guys at LA Whiskey Society:

Anonymous said...

William Heavenhill is BIB but only available at the distillery's visitor center.

Anonymous said...

Also, Fleischmann's made a BIB (which I have been looking for) but discontinued it around 20 years ago

ron nap said...

Jim Beam Bonded came out in 2015

JaketheSnake said...

George T. Stagg is another.