Bottled-in-Bond was created to set straight whiskey apart from rectified whiskey. It set a minimum standard of quality that requires the whiskey had to be 1) Made at one distillery, 2) Made in the same season, 3) Aged at least four years in a bonded warehouse, and 4) Bottled at 100 proof with nothing added but pure water. Many distilleries are mature enough now that they have four year old whiskey in their bonded warehouses and they are releasing bonded whiskey. It is their way of stating to the market that they are authentic and their whiskey was all made by them and not sourced. The law states that the DSP number of the distillery has to be placed on the label of bonded whiskey to show the source of the whiskey. In the past, some whiskey that was contract distilled was Bottled-in-Bond and the distillery making the whiskey allowed their DSP number to be used on the label or tax stamp. The prime examples for this were the private labels made by Stitzel-Weller for places such as the Drake Hotel and other labels that purchased barrels of whiskey from them with a contract to distill the whiskey for them.
I have tasted some very good bonded whiskeys in the last year. I am listing them here in alphabetical order, not by preference in any way. They are all good, solid whiskeys. These distilleries are making their own whiskey and are proud of their products and pleased to be able to show the consumer that they are making good, old bonded whiskey.
- Ben Holladay Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: The McCormick Distillery has been out of the whiskey business since the 1990s. They decided to get back into whiskey production with this brand. They have returned to their tradition of making Bourbon in Weston, Missouri with a six year old bonded Bourbon that has caramel and citrus flavors, balanced with a little baking spice and wood. It is a very good whiskey.
- Carl T. Huber’s Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: The Starlight Distillery in Indiana has been distilling for whiskey for over four years now. They have released Carl T. Huber’s Bourbon as a bonded Bourbon. It has a rich caramel and fruit flavor that is sure to please.
- Leiper’s Fork Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: Leiper’s Fork Distillery is in Tennessee makes a bonded Tennessee whiskey, but their distiller, Lee Kennedy, likes Bourbon, so he has released a bonded Bourbon, as well as, their Tennessee whiskey. It is a wheated Bourbon made with70% corn, 15% wheat and 15% malted barley. It is full of fruity plum and date flavors with rich French vanilla and pepper spice. This is a bottle worth purchasing when you find yourself in Tennessee.
- Old Fourth Distillery Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: This bonded Bourbon is made in Georgia. My bottle was a gift from a Georgia resident whom I helped out with some research. I have not seen it here in Kentucky, but I would be happy to purchase another bottle the next time I find myself in Georgia. The whiskey is a spicy Bourbon with corn, vanilla and lots of spice notes. There is white pepper on the taste with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice on the finish. It is a very good Bourbon.
- The Mattie Gladden Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: This Bourbon is from the Spirits of French Lick Distillery in Indiana and distilled by Alan Bishop. Alan always bottles very good whiskey and he likes bottled-in-bond products. This whiskey is made with 55% corn, 35% rye and 10% malted barley. It is very well balanced Bourbon with vanilla, apple fruit and pepper spice flavors on the taste and a pleasant finish of oak and pepper.
- The Morning Glory Bottled-in-Bond Kasha Bourbon: This is also from Alan Bishop’s stills at the Spirits of French Lick Distillery. It has a mash bill of 66% corn, 12% rye, 16% Kasha, 2% buckwheat, and 4% malted barley. Alan loves to experiment with his mash bill and his yeast strains. This is an excellent Bourbon variant that is fruity with peach and apricot notes, with rich caramel. a hint of chocolate and white pepper spice.
Bottled-in-Bond spirits are making a comeback. The category almost died out in the decline of whiskey in the 1970s and 80s. Thanks to the work of people such as Bernie Lubbers, Chuck Cowdery and others, people are being educated on the benefits of bonded whiskey and are looking for these whiskey in the market. The category is growing and is stronger than it has been for decades. Here are just six of the growing number of bonded whiskeys on the market today.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller