The Bond of Bourbon


The bottled in bond act of 1897 originated from the need for there to be consistency and legitimacy to bourbon. Before the act, there were no legal requirements to what could or could not be called “bourbon.” As a result, it was hard to tell if you were purchasing the genuine article when you purchased bourbon…this lead to the bottled in bond act of 1897.

Bottled in bond is a designated for bourbon that has been added and bottled according to a set of legal regulations laid out by the United States government. To be labeled as Bottled in Bond or Bonded, the bourbon must be the product of one distillation season (January-June or July-December), the product of one distiller at one distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under United States government supervision for a minimum of four years, and bottled at 100 proof. The label of the product must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled.

Today the number of bonded whiskeys on the market is lower than it was around 1897 but there are still several to choose from that are great pours. Some are pricier and rarer than others, but there are a few that are readily available and are both great pours and easy on the pocketbook:

Bonded Old Grandad: A spicier bourbon due to its high-rye mash bill. This is probably my personal favorite budget bourbon. Rich in aroma and flavor with plenty of rye spice and soft caramel notes. For under $20, it just doesn’t get much better than this.

Heaven Hill 6 year old Old Style Bourbon: Another fantastic pour at an even lower price point. Aged stated as well (something that is becoming rarer and rarer by the day in the bourbon industry). A great pour at a fantastic price.

J.T.S. Brown: Another bourbon that drinks like it’s priced at 20 or 30 dollars higher than it actually is. These three bourbons in general showcase what a premium product results from following the laws of the Bottled in Bond act. Not only did the act result in protecting and authenticating bourbon, but also set up a set of guidelines that resulted in some delicious bourbon being made!

These are just three of my personal favorites and readily available bonded bourbons. There are several others to discover at varying price points and rarities, but these three will give you a great picture of what bonded whiskey should be! Cheers!