March 3 is Bottled in Bond Day: What That Means and 6 Bourbons Worth Celebrating With
Each year on March 3, we celebrate Bottled in Bond Day, or the anniversary of the Bottled in Bond Act, which was signed in 1897. We’ve got you covered with an explanation of the Bottled in Bond Act, why it was so important and even a list of our top five Bottled in Bond bourbons to sip in honor of the holiday — plus an honorable mention!
What Was the Bottled in Bond Act?
For whiskey and other alcohol categories, methods of certifying authenticity and quality are vital in order to hold producers accountable. For American whiskey, Bottled in Bond is the most significant such certification. In the 1800s, bootleggers were frequently cutting their whiskey with unwanted additives in order to cut costs and make larger profits. In some cases, harmful chemicals even found their way into whiskeys, and consumers had no way of knowing quite what they were putting in their bodies.
To help put a halt to this issue, the federal government passed the Bottled in Bond Act, whose primary purpose was to ensure that the whiskey that consumers were buying was really whiskey. The act introduced the Bottled in Bond label, which producers would be able to stamp their whiskeys with to guarantee authenticity. For a spirit to be labeled “Bottled in Bond,” it must adhere to these stipulations:
- It must have been produced in a single distillation season by a single distillery.
- It must be bottled and aged for at least four years in a federally bonded warehouse under federal government supervision.
- It must be bottled at exactly 100 proof, or 50% ABV.
Today, we have much higher standards for our whiskeys, and producers are held much more accountable. Thus, finding a whiskey that is labeled Bottled in Bond is no longer as important as it once was. Still, many producers continue to release Bottled in Bond whiskeys, and the label still ensures a certain level of quality. Some of the absolute best-value whiskeys on the market are Bottled in Bond.
The Best Bottled in Bond Whiskeys to Drink in 2023
Honorable mention: Jack Daniel’s Bonded
Tennessee’s whiskey goliath, Jack Daniel’s, released its Bottled in Bond whiskey in May 2022. This whiskey was a hit upon its launch and for good reason — it arrived as a much-needed middle ground in the Jack Daniel’s portfolio. Jack Daniel’s Bonded is a major upgrade over the basic Jack Daniel’s products, like Old No. 7 and Gentleman Jack, but is more affordable and accessible than the the brand’s limited and top-shelf releases, like Sinatra Select and Single Barrel Select.
Jack Daniel’s Bonded features notes of sweet cornbread muffins, honey, toffee, light pepper and banana split ice cream on the nose; lots of buttercream, cornbread, honey-roasted peanuts and creamy cocoa on the palate; and a short, pleasant and buttery finish. This whiskey isn’t too complex, but it’s pleasant and an easy sipper. It’s enjoyable, has plenty of character and is worth grabbing for its $30 price tag.
Chattanooga Vintage Series: Bottled In Bond Spring 2018 Vintage Series
Distilled by Chattanooga Whiskey, this release was distilled in spring 2018 and is a blend of four mashbills, all distilled and stored in bond. This whiskey is a pure delight and quite complex, featuring an enticing nose, a medium mouthfeel with a gradually growing oak presence and a sweet finish.
Found for an approachable suggested retail price of $52.99, this bottle is worth every penny.
Old Fitzgerald 17 Year Bottled In Bond 2004
Distilled from Heaven Hill’s wheated mashbill, this whiskey is bold, oaky and a total winner. The rich, complex nose draws you in with aromas of maple candies, brown sugar, clove, toffee and cocoa. On the palate, there’s plenty of oak and tannin without being overbearing. The finish is long and complex and excels in the middle ground between old and oaky and complex, dessert-forward and loaded with baking spices.
Aged 17 years and nearly impossible to find for anywhere near its already pricy suggested retail price of $185, this bottling is a splurge and worth grabbing if you ever find it near MSRP.
Speaking of whiskeys to splurge on…
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond
Hailing from Wild Turkey’s acclaimed Master’s Keep series, this whiskey’s $200 MSRP is actually quite low for its age and stature. Like the previous entry on this list, if you find it anywhere near that price, you should probably snatch it up.
Released in 2020, Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond is fruity and oaky on the nose and sweeter, brighter and fruitier on the palate than you’d expect given its age. This sip concludes with a long, oaky finish with notes of cocoa, praline and some tobacco and pepper.
Early Times Bottled in Bond
We’re now done with the uber-expensive whiskeys, so if those weren’t your jam, here’s a much more approachable option. A Brown-Forman release under the Early Times label, this four-year Bottled in Bond bourbon can be had for under $30.
This whiskey delivers cinnamon and fruity, funky sweetness on the nose, along with banana bread, honey and toffee. The palate is rich, with banana bread once again, along with cocoa, cinnamon, caramel, buttercream and honey.
This is an enjoyable bourbon at a great price point. It’s worth a pickup for sure, especially if you’re a fan of Brown-Forman distillate, as this is unmistakably that.
Starlight Bottled in Bond Bourbon
Distilled by Starlight Distillery in Indiana, this straight bourbon whiskey is 4.5 years old.
When tasting this whiskey, a sweet, inviting nose with cocoa, honey, caramel and rising bread reels you in. The palate presents you with a moderate viscosity with prevalent notes of toffee, coffee and praline. The finish is long with caramel and a prickle of ethanol.
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