Bottled-in-bond bourbon holds a particular fascination for a segment of American whiskey drinkers, owing much to the fact there are very specific requirements the spirit must adhere to in order to garner this label. The age requirement alone – four years – is something that, until now, has only been a threshold the older, established Kentucky distilleries could touch. Craft bourbon is now pushing into that space, however, with at least two three new bottlings surfacing which could mark new territory for young distilleries to tread in.
image via Laws Whiskey House
For those who don’t know, bottled-in-bond, as we pointed out in this article not too long ago, must meet the following standards: it must be distilled in one distilling season (a single calendar year), at one distillery, by one distiller, aged four years in a bonded (i.e. government monitored) warehouse, and bottled at no less than 100 proof (50 percent ABV). This was created as a result of
the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897, a piece of legislation originated by distillers to reduce the marketing tomfoolery of unscrupulous distributors, rectifiers, and hucksters who made upscale claims about downscale liquors.
Of the four craft distilleries we’ve seen thus far which are adhering to these standards to label their bourbon as such, Laws Whiskey House out of Colorado seems to be the first second out the gate with an actual product to market [see last paragraph for what looks to be the first craft distillery to do a BiB expression]. They unveiled their Four Grain Straight Bourbon Bottled in Bond to the world on March 9th. Here’s what Laws had to say of this release on its Facebook page when it debuted:
We are selling this product exclusively at the distillery for $90 a bottle. “Bottled-in-Bond” is federally regulated and to be labeled as such we followed strict regulations. It has to be made from the grain of one season, by one distiller at one distillery. It must be aged on premise for a minimum of four years and bottled at 100 proof. Alan Laws added his personal touch and has sign every bottle. This is a limited release.
Also, just brought to our attention today (March 16) is Tom’s Foolery, a young Ohio distillery we’ve written about before. They cleared a label with the TTB, which you can see below, earlier this month for bottled-in-bond offering that was double pot distilled.
As for the first, that title, at the moment anyhow, looks to below to Rock Town out of Arkansas. They wrote us to let us know their 5th anniversary bourbon, which was released last year, is a bottled-in-bond offering. It was a one off release for them, so it may be very hard to track down a bottle of. It received a 90 from Whiskey Advocate and a 92 in the 2016 Whisky Bible from Jim Murray.
We look forward to seeing other craft distilleries getting into the bottled-in-bond space as time goes along, and will find it interesting when enough stock is available to do a cross tasting comparison of bourbons, from large and small alike, which all fall into these very specific creation guidelines.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...