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Thread: Bonded bourbons

  1. #11
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    Hummm, let me think. I do recall an article entitled, "'The Good Stuff,' Once Again? Reconsidering Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon," which appeared in Malt Advocate, Volume 11, Number 3 (Third Quarter 2002 Issue). I seem to recall that it was written by a bourbon expert who is beholden to no one and also a fine looking man, if memory serves.

  2. #12
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    I'll keep an eye out for the Old Fitz BIB, but what other bonded bottlings are still out there that I might run into?
    Downunder & in many of the Asia/Pacific Duty Free stores (Australia, New Zealand & Fiji I can speak for personally), we get Jim Beam Gold Label Bottled in Bond.
    As far as I know, it is the only "stated" BIB product that our market has.

  3. #13
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    Chuck,

    If one wished to read a comprehensive article, one written by a bourbon expert beholden to no one, on the subject of bonded bourbon, where should one look?

    Jim Murray is especially beholden to no one. If he is irritated with or dislikes any brand or bottling, he does not hesitate to make his opinion known. I think the most comprehensive negative review I've ever seen him write was for the original bottling of 20YO Pappy, but obviously not everyone agreed with him.

    Bottling in Bond really isn't necessary anymore, I believe. It was a law that was enacted to protect the public from the products of unscrupulous distillers and pseudo-rectifiers who were diluting spirits with flavorings and colorings, then bottling the result as "straight whiskey". To qualify as Bottled in Bond, the product had to be genuine straight whiskey, kept in bonded warehouses for a minimum of four years' maturation, mingled from the same distilling season, and bottled at 100 proof - among other requirements that I cannot recall at the moment.

    But that was all some seventy years before the US Government set guidelines for what constitutes straight whiskey (and straight bourbon, Kentucky straight bourbon, straight rye, and Tennessee) vs blended whiskey...I believe this was slightly more liberal, allowing for a minimum proof of 80 and not requiring the mingling of a single season's output - but requiring new charred barrels and forbidding any coloring or flavoring additives. These laws have pretty much made the Bottling-In-Bond legislation obsolete. The marketplace has made it obsolete as well; there is no law requiring straight whiskey to be bottled at 100 proof, but there is still a substantial market for 100+ proof whiskey, and so long as that market is there it will be happily provided for by the distillers, rectifiers, and marketers.

  4. #14

    Re: Bonded bourbons

    I suggested Heaven Hill's current BOB may have new labelling. The bottle I saw in Florida was bonded but not (if memory serves) 10 years old, it had a white label and a rounded bottle shape. That bottle probably is a different offering from the 10 year old in the square bottle with the buff label, so in all likelihood no labelling change has been made.
    Either Heaven Hill puts out quite a variety of BIBs, or there's a lot of old stock floating around out there -- I have the square-bottle "Very Rare Old" 10yo BIB, and recently finished a 375 of a no-age-statement (presumably, then 4yo) gold-label version with BIB written across a red stripe at the top of the label. Your 10yo with a buff label would make three, at least.

  5. #15
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    I cordially disagree. Others have made the argument more eloquently than I, but I think that BIB expressions truly highlight the distiller's art, more than the "minglers" art.

  6. #16
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    Good comments, and they reveal also a possible error in an earlier post of mine. I suggested Heaven Hill's current BOB may have new labelling. The bottle I saw in Florida was bonded but not (if memory serves) 10 years old, it had a white label and a rounded bottle shape. That bottle probably is a different offering from the 10 year old in the square bottle with the buff label, so in all likelihood no labelling change has been made.
    A white label on a rounded bottle? I don't think I've seen that BIB, although none of the eponymous Heaven Hill brands are available in VA, so we don't see many of them at all unless we travel. Do you remember if it was called "Old Heaven Hill" or just "Heaven Hill?" I'm not sure that my post suggests an error on your part - couldn't the bottle you saw in Florida be an "updated" labelling of the gold BIB?

    I didn't mention it earlier, but EW BIB is available in VA. We don't have any right now, but we have in the past. We found it unimpressive, but not "bad."

    Does anybody know how the JTS Brown BIB differs from the OHH or EW BIB? Can you label the "same" BIB differently? IE, if you have a whiskey "pool" that was distilled in 1997 and bottled at 100 proof in 2001, could you call half of it JTS Brown and half Evan Williams? If so, is that done in practice?

    Hmm...I wonder if Bettye Jo knows the inside scoop on all these HH BIBs...

    As a visual reference, here is a photo of the two bottles I referenced. You might note that the 10 year has been opened preferentially, but we haven't done a side-by-side here, either.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #17

    Re: Bonded bourbons

    Those are the two bottles I have/have had recently. I really like the 10yo "Very Rare Old". Nothing wrong with the gold-label one -- it's just analogous to comparing chocolate syrup to chocolate fudge.

  8. #18
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    You are absolutely right, Mike, that "Bottling in Bond really isn't necessary anymore," but the fact that it is unnecessary with regard to the practices it was intended to correct doesn't mean it can't still be a good thing. What I call the "singularity requirements" of the BIB designation put it somewhere in between a standard straight and a single barrel. Because a bond must be made by one distiller at one distillery in one season, it has those characteristics in common with a single barrel, as opposed to a straight which can include whiskey of different ages and even whiskey from different sources. That doesn't make one better than the other, just different. In fact, some bonds are pretty ordinary, but the existence of the designation gives us one more way to actually know what we're getting, which I consider a good thing.

  9. #19
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    There is nothing in the regulations to prevent Heaven Hill from taking its bonded whiskey and selling some of it as Heaven Hill BIB and some of it as J.T.S. Brown BIB, or J.W. Dant or anything else. It is really only the whiskey in the individual bottle that has to be all from the same distiller, distillery and season. The J.T.S. Brown might be from a different distiller/distillery/season, but it doesn't have to be.

    As for labels, I don't know to what extent this is still the case (Bettye Jo will know) but Heaven Hill has traditionally been very happy to let its distributors have unique, if only slightly different, labels, especially for its Heaven Hill brands and some of its other lesser brands (with Evan Williams, for example, they're more prone to try to keep everything uniform). So you might very well see "Old Heaven Hill BIB 10-year-old" with a white label in one state and "Heaven Hill 10-year-old BIB" (i.e., no "old" and slightly different arragement of the words) with a gold label in a different state. The difference doesn't mean anything except one distributor liked the gold label and the other liked the white label, and Heaven Hill was happy to oblige.

    As a practical matter, distributors may like this arrangement because it helps them monitor poaching, i.e., a distributor selling in another distributor's territory. Isn't that illegal? In many places it is and I'm shocked, shocked, that such a thing could take place.

  10. #20
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    Re: Bonded bourbons

    I also seem to recall an article entitled, "Bonded Bourbon Still A Unique Whiskey Experience," that appeared in the March, 2001 (Vol. 5, No. 5) issue of a publication called The Bourbon Country Reader.

 

 

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