Rob if it doesn't say 'Bottled in Bond' somewhere on the label or bottle then it doesn't meet all the requirements. That isn't to say it is any less of a whisky though, I'm perfectly satisfied with 100 proof.
Years ago Bottled in Bond was an indication that you were buying a superior product but that distinction has blurred over time. The Bonded designation means the whisky was distilled in one season by one master distiller at one distillery and placed in new charred oak barrels to age for a minimum of four years in a government supervised Federally bonded warehouse, then bottled at 100 proof. The whisky could be aged longer but four years is the minimum.
The Bottled in Bond Act was passed in 1897 and one of it's original purposes was to ensure the consumer was getting the real deal as opposed to less desirable whisky imitations that were then on the market.
A hundred years ago distilleries shut down during the summer because it was too hot to make good whisky so distilling took place during the Spring and Fall and these periods were known as seasons. So, one season, one master distiller, one distillery and then locked up under government supervision until ready to be bottled for sale. Of course all this didn't make the whisky any better but did assure it's authenticity.
The term is archaic now because distilleries can run year round and quality control is not dependent on the supervision of one person. Some brands (Old Forester Signature comes to mind) that could qualify as Bonded no longer do so and the whisky is none the worse for it.
Frankly, we consumers may be better served by the producers having more leeway in mingling whiskies of different seasons to provide us with consistent quality in their regular brands.
Josh I thought I made that clear further in my post but let me rephrase. If it doesn't say 'Bottled in Bond' on the label or bottle then it may not meet all the requirements to be so labeled, or, the producer, for whatever reasons, may simply choose not to use that designation.
Once an indication of quality the phrase, though useful, we have an idea of what we are getting, doesn't carry the same weight it once did among consumers.
BIB never really meant superior quality, but people took it that way.
Old Bourbon Hollow is the bonded version of the Jim Beam recipe. It's not widely available, but you can find it in Kentucky.
My faves are OGD BIB, VOB BIB, Rittenhouse Rye BIB, Old Fitzgerald BIB, JTS Brown BIB, and Mellow Corn BIB.
I have no reason to believe JTS Brown is any different or better than any other Heaven Hill BIB, it just happens to be the one I usually buy. I have affection for the name because I used to know some guys in Columbus, Ohio, who had a band called JTS Brown and they used to perform a song I wrote.
Many producers these days choose not to use the BIB designation even though they can. Fred Noe has told me that Knob Creek could be labeled BIB, they just choose not to.
I thought it was interesting that the new E.H. Taylor that is supposed to be coming out is labeled BIB. I thought that was a nice sort of nostalgic touch on their part.
After tasting the new version of Old Fitz BIB today for the BOTM, I'll have to add it to my favorites list. I was impressed. I'd love to try some of the great old stuff from when the dinosaurs roamed...:bowdown:
Bernheim Fitz has a little bit more bitterness than SW Fitz ever did. That's the main difference to me.
Well, not superior quality, I wouldn't make that quantum leap, just something one wouldn't be embarrassed to serve to guests.