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bourbon-n00b
11-03-2009, 11:22
Hi:

From what I understand, to be bottled in bond, a whiskey has to be aged a minimum of 4 years (can be longer) but has to be exactly 100 proof (cannot be higher).

Just curious as to why the proof was fixed like that, while the age is a floor, with longer periods permitted. Any ideas?

Skunk
11-03-2009, 19:54
I believe that, like the age statement, the 100 proof requirement is a minimum.

MrB
11-03-2009, 22:05
:drinking:Wiki says
Bottled in bond refers to American-made whiskey that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal stipulations contained in the United States government's Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5.21, et. seq.), as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897
To be labeled as "Bottled-in-Bond" or "Bonded," the whiskey must be straight whiskey that is the product of one distillation season and one distiller at one distillery. It must have been stored (i.e., aged) in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 (U.S.) proof (50% alcohol by volume). The bottled product's label must identify the distillery (by DSP number) where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled.
The Bottled-in-Bond Act made the United States government the guarantor of the whiskey's authenticity. Although without assurance of quality, "bottled-in-bond" whiskey came to be regarded as "the good stuff."
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Josh
11-04-2009, 05:02
I've never figured out why Laird's has an apple brandy that is labeled as "Bottled in Bond". It fits are the requirements, except for the fact that it's not a whiskey.

Gillman
11-04-2009, 05:59
The bottling-in-bond rules were indirectly a guarantee of quality in that the consumer by purchasing a bottle stamped to indicated a bonded product knew that the product was all-straight whiskey and not mixed with neutral spirits, flavouring or other things that were not part of a traditional whiskey's make-up. The Wiki note recognizes this by referring to "authenticity". But of course a distiller could (and I am sure many did in those days, circa 1900) make a whiskey that did not taste great - there were many qualities, in this sense, then as now. The government felt that to allow deferral of the tax on spirits, which continued while the product was sheltered in bond, the distillers should ensure an authentic product in the sense mentioned - it was an early example of government-industry cooperation.

I believe that bonded whiskey acquired additional cachet in later years simply because of coincidence. A bond also means a promise. The term implied that distillers were vouchsafing to consumers the quality of the product. Had the term used not been bonded but something else, perhaps the cachet would not have attached, it is hard to say. But term bonded surely came from a bonded warehouse which means one in which an area is set aside and sealed off for non-duty paid goods, nothing to do with promises.

100 proof seems to be, as Pappy Van Winkle noted in the ad discussed in another thread, a balance point for best quality (all other things being equal, I would add). It is difficult to know why 100 proof was selected in the 1800's as the standard for vending quality whiskey, and bottled whiskey, essentially. In Britain at the time, 100 proof meant 57% ABV. (OGD 114 is still 57% ABV and reflects in my view a yet older concept of proof). I think it was more a commercial decision than anything else. To sell spirits at a standard deemed acceptable, it had to be half-alcohol, not so much for taste perhaps, but to ensure the consumer got fair bang for his buck. And quite literally proof originated in the idea that alcohol was strong enough to be sold if it burned when mixed with gunpowder. But it burns at different levels of concentration of alcohol of course. 57% ABV emerged in Britain as the concentration deemed correct for this purpose, and in the U.S., by the time 100 proof was adoped it had nothing to do I am sure with gunpowder but more the idea of a consumer standard.

In any case, 100 proof became part of the bonded requirement and still is.

Gary

unclebunk
11-04-2009, 06:05
I've always been curious why some Irish whiskeys say "Bottled In Bond" on the label. I'm guessing it is merely to suggest that their product is of superior quality but not that it meets some particular required standard.

bourbon-n00b
11-04-2009, 06:38
Thanks guys for the info, but I guess I am still confused about why a 101, 107, 114, 125 proof whiskey could not be labeled bonded (assuming it meets all the other characteristics). It's acceptable to exceed the 4-year aging minimum but unacceptable to exceed 100 proof.

On its face, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But lots of things are like that.

Gillman
11-04-2009, 06:48
It may have been an unintentional result, just the way the law was written. The person writing it may not have intended even to exclude whiskey over 100 proof, but that is how it came out due to the wording selected. ("Bonded has to be 100 proof" meaning really "Bonded has to mean minimum 100 proof but it was written the former way not the latter). Also, distillers would not want (then anyway) to put more alcohol in the bottle than they had to. 100 proof was, I am pretty sure, a maximum amount in the market then - for labelled bottled whiskey I mean. You could put out 110 proof, say, but that must have been rare even before the BIB Act. Perhaps it was just an arbitrary decision, one that combined quality considerations such as Pappy referred to and a consumer standard in terms of minimum alcohol content - the consumer gets half alcohol half water.

Gary

bourbon-n00b
11-04-2009, 06:50
That makes sense. Thanks Gary!

Gillman
11-04-2009, 07:12
But here is more food for thought:

http://books.google.com/books?id=6EkAHjj2o-IC&pg=PA310&dq=bottled+in+bond+act#v=onepage&q=bottled%20in%20bond%20act&f=false

The author, Wiley, is famous in whiskey history circles. He was a government official very concerned with food and whiskey quality. He would know more than anyone the history of the BIB Act.

Note his statement that the proof had to be at least 100 to qualify under the Act, not 100 exactly. Maybe the Act did originally say that and was changed later (if it was, I have always understood too though that the proof must be exactly 100). Or maybe Wiley got it wrong.

His comments on charred barrel aging are interesting too. The way he explains it, charring was a short-cut only, a way to get 8 years aging in 4 and even then he seems doubtful it worked apart from color! This shows that so often the things we take for granted, that become shibboleths, were originally commercial expedients, short-cuts of one kind or another.

Gary

bourbon-n00b
11-04-2009, 07:30
But here is more food for thought:

http://books.google.com/books?id=6EkAHjj2o-IC&pg=PA310&dq=bottled+in+bond+act#v=onepage&q=bottled%20in%20bond%20act&f=false

The author, Wiley, is famous in whiskey history circles. He was a government official very concerned with food and whiskey quality. He would know more than anyone the history of the BIB Act.

Note his statement that the proof had to be at least 100 to qualify under the Act, not 100 exactly. Maybe the Act did originally say that and was changed later (if it was, I have always understood too though that the proof must be exactly 100). Or maybe Wiley got it wrong.

His comments on charred barrel aging are interesting too. The way he explains it, charring was a short-cut only, a way to get 8 years aging in 4 and even then he seems doubtful it worked apart from color! This shows that so often the things we take for granted, that become shibboleths, were originally commercial expedients, short-cuts of one kind or another.

Gary

Cool stuff! :toast:

p_elliott
11-04-2009, 08:36
It's my understanding that when mixed with gunpowder whiskey burnt blue at 100 proof any thing less it was yellow. So a blue flame meant proof of 50% alcohol. I will need someone else to chime in on this I have also read/heard that the blue flame meant it was safe to drink if the flame was yellow it was methanol and therefor unsafe. Again blue flame meant proof this was from an interview from a moon shiner.

Gillman
11-04-2009, 11:19
http://books.google.com/books?id=dZDPAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA105&dq=proof+gunpowder+alcohol&lr=#v=onepage&q=proof%20gunpowder%20alcohol&f=fa

Some background.

Gary

funknik
11-04-2009, 11:51
This is not exactly related, but it's something I've been wondering about and I don't really think it deserves its own thread . . . it's a scientific question so all you lab geeks can answer ---

does ice melt quicker in liquor with a higher alcohol content?

It had never occurred to me until recently as I had assumed that temperature was the only factor, but it seems to me that ice melts faster in a higher proof bourbon.

anyway, that was pretty dumb, but . . .

loose proton
11-04-2009, 14:42
commercial liquid de-icer (like for windshield) is methanol. windsheild wiper fluid doesn't freeze unless it gets really cold, it's methanol solution. The higher the methanol, the colder it can stay liquid.

cowdery
11-04-2009, 15:34
In the days of low entry proof, whiskey didn't finish out much above 100. It may not have occurred to anyone that there might come a day when there would be whiskeys sold at more than 100 proof. Now it's just a peculiarity of the law. The law says it has to be 100 proof so it can't be more or less, but I don't think it was done that way (the upper limit, anyway) on purpose.

On the other hand, possibly it was since the broad consumer protection purpose was so people would know what they were getting, and a consistent proof would seem to support that.

Any aged spirit can be bottled in bond, not just whiskey.

cowdery
11-04-2009, 15:35
This is not exactly related, but it's something I've been wondering about and I don't really think it deserves its own thread . . . it's a scientific question so all you lab geeks can answer ---

does ice melt quicker in liquor with a higher alcohol content?

It had never occurred to me until recently as I had assumed that temperature was the only factor, but it seems to me that ice melts faster in a higher proof bourbon.

anyway, that was pretty dumb, but . . .

Seems like a pretty easy experiment to conduct.