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  1. #1
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    So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    <font color=blue>The following is a string of messages taken from another thread, where they really don't belong, and brought here where they might hopefully be of use to someone interested in figuring out how old that bottle of bourbon in Grandma's spice cabinet really is...</font color=blue>
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    Subject Re: What is your favorite bourbon? [re: cowdery]
    Posted by Forbes ()
    Posted on Sun Nov 4 17:39:41 2001
    From IP 12.84.233.12

    One of my prized possessions is an unopen bottle of Very Very Old Fitzgerald (Bonded 12 year) that my wife received as a Christmas gift in 1987.

    Is there a way from the bottle to determine when it made or bottled? The bottle has gold lines covering it, a beige label with gold print, and a burgundy label on the neck of the bottle.
    There is a number in the back of the neck label (N 05 S 12 100-CG82). Per the back label the "Original Sour Mash Kentucky Bonded Bourbon" was distilled, aged, and bottled by the Old Fitzgerald Distillary, Inc. (DSP-Ky-16) in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Any information would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Todd
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    Subject Re: What is your favorite bourbon? [re: Forbes]
    Posted by cowdery ()
    Posted on Mon Nov 5 13:25:18 2001
    From IP 24.148.26.201

    Because you didn't mention it, I'm guessing this bottle doesn't have a tax stamp over the cap. That is where the dates typically would appear. A rough way of determining when a product was bottled is to look at the bottom of the bottle itself. Usually (though not always) you can find two digits that are recognizable as a year (e.g., 87). That is the year the bottle was made, but is probably also the year the whiskey was bottled. Count back twelve years and you have the probable distillation date, or as near as you are likely to get.

    --Chuck Cowdery
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    Subject Re: VVOF [re: Forbes]
    Posted by J_Lipman ()
    Posted on Mon Nov 5 21:59:36 2001
    From IP 65.27.147.83

    Hi Todd,

    Of course, Chuck's suggestion about the tax stamp is the most accurate. If there is one. Doesn't help much if it's gone, though. Or if the red ink the dates are stamped with has faded beyond recognition.

    A couple of things I've learned about bottle-age-guessing that might be helpful...

    1. The words "Federal Law Prohibits the Resale or Reuse of this Bottle," molded into the glass or printed on the label were required on all bottles made between 1932-1964.

    2. If your bottle has the green "Bottled in Bond" federal excise tax stamp, it was filled before December 1982

    3. Metric sizes began to appear in 1979 or 1980. According to Mike Veach, bottles displaying both metric and fluid ounces were made mostly between 1980 and 1984

    4. If it doesn't have a UPC code, it's probably from the mid-'80s or before

    5. The health warning label first appeared in November 1989

    =John=
    http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey
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    Subject Re: VVOF [re: J_Lipman]
    Posted by cowdery ()
    Posted on Tue Nov 6 18:46:41 2001
    From IP 24.148.26.201

    That's great information, John.

    Were the tax stamps just for bonds or were all spirits products tax-stamped at one time, for federal excise tax purposes?

    As I recall, stamping disappeared gradually in the early 1980s. For one thing, their elimination required the manufacturers to find another way to "tamper-proof" their bottles. That is when the plastic capsule tops were introduced.

    --Chuck Cowdery


    =John=
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>

  2. #2
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    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    Actually, the regular red & white stamp used on all non-bonded liquor hung on until they were repealed by the "Deficit Reduction Act of 1984" (which became effective July 1, 1985)

    =John=
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>

  3. #3
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    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    John,

    I appreciate yours and Chuck's information on this subject. I printed the posting then got out my bottle of VVOF.

    It does have a green stamp over the cap. It has no specific information, but has a small picture of a still and the words "Distilled Spirit" on the top. The label on the neck has "Bottled in Bond" but the stamp does not. Would this be in federal excise stamp? There is a federal stamp notice on the label on the back of the bottle.

    So using your system:
    (1) It was bottled after 1964 since its bottle does not have "Federal Law Prohibits the Resale or Reuse of the Bottle" molded into it.
    (2) If the stamp I described above is a federal excise stamp, then it would have been bottled prior to December 1982.
    (3) The bottle size is shown in metric (750ml) and fluid ounces (25.4 fl. oz.) so therefore, per Mike Veach, it was probably bottled between 1980 and 1984.
    (4) It does not have a UPC code, so it's probably before the mid-80's.
    (5) It has no health warning label so the bottle is prior to 1989.

    Then going to Chuck's system there are two numbers in the bottom of the bottle a "79" and a smaller "86". However, because of items (2), (3), and (4) above 1986 would not work.

    Therefore, my conclusion is that bottle was made in 1979, the bourbon was bottled in 1980 and since it is a 12 year bourbon it was made in 1968.
    Would you agree with this conclusion?

    Thanks, Todd



  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,604

    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    Your analysis is flawless.

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

  5. #5
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    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    Yes, except that your description of the tax stamp disturbs me. The federal excise tax stamp was FULL of information. It had the engraved look that postage stamps of the same period used to have, and there was a lot of information on it, such as the year and season it was bottled and a serial number. The older ones say "4/5 Quart" on one end; this was replaced in the late '70s by "100 Proof". Also around that time they started adding the name of the producer, stamped in the same fadeable red ink as the dates. All of them have our buddy Al Hamilton's kisser in the center and the words, "Bottled Under the Supervision of the U.S. Government Bonded Warehouse" along both sides of the stamp.

    If your's doesn't have these features, then it's not a federal excise stamp for bonded whiskey. It's probably meant to APPEAR like one (a marketing "feature" still commonly used), but that would make the bottle newer than 1982. Or at least the bottling... the bottle itself probably WAS made in '79; fancy bottles like that might have to be ordered and stocked further ahead of need than ordinary bottles (Julian or Bettye Jo could help us here).

    =John=
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by j_lipman on Wed Nov 7 04:17:34 2001 (server time).</FONT></P>

  6. #6
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    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    Todd,
    I would say that your bourbon was bottled in 1985 or later. The telling clue is the "tax stamp" green strip across the top of the bottle. If the bottle was bottled in 1979 there would be a tax stamp, green with the season and year the whiskey was made and the season and year the whiskey was bottled. There would also be a portrait of John Carlisle (sorry John, it is not Hamilton), the Kentuckian who was the head of the Treasury Department under Grover Cleveland when the bottled in Bond act was passed, on the top where the still is on your stamp. The stamp on your bottle was used after the Regan Adminstration de-regulated the industry in 1984 doing away with both the green and red tax stamps on whiskey. If I am not mistaken the law took effect in January 1985. The bottle on the other hand was probably made in 1979 but you have to remember that the Very Very Old Fitzgerald brand was a small volume brand the bottles purchased in bulk for a better price were often around for several years.

    Mike Veach


  7. #7
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    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    And then Mike said, "... There would also be a portrait of John Carlisle (sorry John, it is not Hamilton), the Kentuckian who was the head of the Treasury Department under Grover Cleveland when the bottled in Bond act was passed ..."

    Oops! Does this mean I failed the "100 Years of Bottled in Bond" course???
    And does THAT mean I'll have to take it again???
    WHERE DO I SIGN UP !!!!???

    =John=
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>

  8. #8
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    Re: So Just How Old IS My Bottle, Anyway?

    John,
    I would be happy to repeat the class. Just give me another bottle of Old Taylor (or some other brand) made 1913 and bottled 1918 (or of similar age).
    Mike Veach


 

 

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