Whiskey Review: Filibuster Bottled-in-Bond Virginia Straight Bourbon

, | September 23, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Filibuster. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

First-generation immigrants Suman and Siddharth Dilawri opened the liquor store Modern Liquors in the trendy Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, in 2010. A few years later, they bought a 12,000-square-foot former apple-packing warehouse 90 minutes outside the city, in Maurertown, Virginia, and laid the foundations for a distillery and tasting room.

From out in the Shenandoah Valley, their Filibuster Distillery made a name for itself in the Mid-Atlantic states where it was initially distributed based largely on its dual-cask-finished bourbons – sourced whiskeys finished in wine barrels. But Filibuster added a continuous still on-site in Maurertown in 2016, where it has a deep limestone well, and has been moving toward whiskeys made on-site in recent years.

The Bottled-in-Bond Virginia Straight Bourbon uses grains grown near the distillery at Shenandoah HWK Farms, which are distilled and aged at Filibuster. It’s a more straightforward approach than many of the distillery’s earlier releases, allowing the whiskey-making process to stand on its own without any finishing flourishes.

The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, which gives this bottle its name and distinctiveness, was originally passed because the federal government was concerned about the amount of fraudulent booze being sold in the country. The feds wanted a way for buyers to know they were getting what they were paying for in a whiskey bottle during those largely unregulated pre-Prohibition days.

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Under the law, bottled-in-bond bourbons had to be distilled at a single distillery in a single distilling season, aged at least four years in a warehouse certified by the government as legitimate, bottled at exactly 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume), altered with no additives other than water, and provided with labels that included specific product information. Bottles came affixed with a tax stamp to show their bona fides under the law.

The requirements to use the term are largely the same as they were in 1897, but it’s a matter of debate whether the claim is particularly meaningful in an era when a wide variety of other food safety and labeling laws also apply. In any case, it lets you know the whiskey is 100 proof and at least four years old.

Filibuster Bottled-in-Bond Virginia Straight Bourbon review

Filibuster Bottled-in-Bond Virginia Straight Bourbon (image via Debbie Nelson/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Filibuster Bottled-in-Bond Virginia Straight Bourbon

Vital stats: Mash bill of 70% corn, 20% rye, 10% malted barley, aged five years in new oak; 100 proof/50% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $89.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: A pleasant orangey, amber color. Watery legs on the side of the glass.

Nose: There’s something earthy and grassy going on that makes me think of hay bales in a field sitting in the summer sun. Also apricots, flowers, and allspice. The overall effect is of a mellow, approachable whiskey.

Palate: Sometimes, high-rye bourbons hit you with spice right away and then melt into bourbon sweetness. Not in this case. The hay smell I noticed earlier presents itself as rye spiciness in the mouth, and it lingers across the palate front to back. It’s not overwhelming, though; just a nice, light spiciness that cuts the vanilla, brown sugar, and honey sweetness you expect from bourbon.

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I really like this bourbon, especially as something new and different next to all the Kentucky bourbons I have on my bar. It’s distributed in 20 states, though Sid Dilawri said further expansion is coming soon. If Filibuster can manage its growth carefully and keep quality where it is now – not an easy thing to do as a craft distillery tries to grow into a bigger company – then I look forward to opening bottles of their whiskeys for many years to come.

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Scott Bernard Nelson

Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. When he's not working, you can often find him fly fishing or rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest.