Before the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, there were no rules about whisky. Bottling was cost prohibitive, so bourbon was sold by the barrel and you’d have to take your jug down to the tavern to fill it up. Sometimes supplies ran low or the whisky hadn’t fully matured yet, so in order to keep selling it rectifiers and tavern keeps would add things like prune juice and tobacco spit to make it taste and appear ready for sale. As you can imagine, this made people quite ill sometimes, and at best it was annoying.
There were several people who led the way in making whisky safer for consumers, and George Garvin Brown was one of them. He was a pharmaceutical salesman in Louisville, KY and after hearing frequent complaints from doctors about variations in the quality of the whisky they were prescribing, he decided to do something about it. He partnered with his half-brother, J.T.S. Brown, Jr., in 1870 to start bottling Old Forrester in sealed bottles with his signature on them in order to assure customers of quality. It was a major step forward into the future of the bourbon industry. Learn more about bourbon without rules from the infographic below!
One night during Derby week, I was working in the liquor store while Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge was doing a tasting. I kept trying to make my way over to talk to him, but we were super busy (did I mention it was Derby week?) and I didn't...