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  1. #1
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    What is Bonded Exactly?

    I thought a separate thread is in order. This is a subject we have discussed many times, yet I am not sure I understand all the nuances.

    E.g., I have not (I think) seen the written rules or laws that establish what we know are still the criteria for bonded whiskey, i.e., that it is must be at least 4 years old, 100 proof, made in one distilling season, by one distiller, etc.

    Where is all this written down?

    Second, based on some of the recent discussions about bonded whiskeys that refer on their labels to distilleries that one would think might not have distilled these products (due to the apparent age of the whiskeys in relation to when the distillery last operated), I am now wondering if the explanation lies in the fact that a bonded whiskey can be distilled elsewhere than the production (not bottling) distillery stated on the label.

    For example, a recent bottle of Heaven Hill bonded bourbon states that it is "distilled in Kentucky, bottled by Heaven Hill Distilleries [Ltd. or Inc. is stated too, I don't have the bottle before me] at D.S.P. 31.". Can this mean that the whiskey was distilled elsewhere than at D.S.P 31 but tanked there and entered in barrels and aged all its life and (in this case also) bottled at D.S.P 31? Or does it have to mean the whiskey was literally distilled at DSP 31?

    Take another example: say bourbon is tanked to D.S.P 16 (the former Stitzel-Weller distillery) and entered in barrels and aged there 4 years minimum and bottled at 100 proof. Bourbon is still being aged there I understand, presumably the owner (Diageo) is leasing part of the premises for this purpose. Can the label of such whiskey state it is produced or even distilled there (and whether bottled there or elsewhere - I understand that if bottled elsewhere than where distilled/produced the label has to state that)?

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 11-20-2007 at 07:34.

  2. #2
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    27cfr5.42b3

    scroll down about 2/3 of the way to find subpart 5.42b3

    (3) The words "bond", "bonded", "bottled in bond", "aged in bond", or phrases
    containing these or synonymous terms, shall not be used on any label or as part
    of the brand name of domestic distilled spirits unless the distilled spirits are:
    (i) Composed of the same kind of spirits produced from the same class of
    materials;
    (ii) Produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same
    distillery;
    (iii) Stored for at least four years in wooden containers wherein the spirits
    have been in contact with the wood surface except for gin and vodka which
    must be stored for at least four years in wooden containers coated or lined
    with paraffin or other substance which will preclude contact of the spirits with
    the wood surface;
    (iv) Unaltered from their original condition or character by the addition or
    subtraction of any substance other than by filtration, chill proofing, or other
    physical treatments (which do not involve the addition of any substance which
    will remain incorporated in the finished product or result in a change in class
    or type);
    (v) Reduced in proof by the addition of pure water only to 100 degrees of
    proof; and
    (vi) Bottles at 100 degrees of proof.
    In addition to the requirements of 5.36(a) (1) or (2), the label shall bear the real name of
    the distillery or the trade name under which the distillery produced and warehoused the
    spirits, and the plant (or registered distillery) number in which produced; and the plant
    number in which bottled. The label may also bear the name or trade name of the bottler.

    I believe the important line is in the last section. "The label shall bear the real name of the distillery OR THE TRADE NAME under which the distillery produced and warehoused the spirits"

    I must say that according to the strict interpretation of the law, my Ritt BIB is improperly labeled, as it doesn't have a DSP for the bottler, only a trade name of Continental Distilling, and there is no Real or Trade name for the distiller only a DSP.
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  3. #3
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Thanks Timothy. I will review these provisions when I have time and offer any further thoughts.

    My interest is to understand the rules and not whether any particular bottling complies or not but as I said earlier too, I doubt any of the labels discussed recently are not in compliance. This is a complex area and I would think everything out there is in full compliance or has received an administrative permission or clearance which amounts to the same thing.

    Gary

  4. #4
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Taking your DSP-16 example. Lets say the owner of the S-W name had some bourbon distilled at another distillery. It would seem they could use the Trade Name of Stitzel-Weller as the distiller and as the bottler, but should still be limited to using the DSP number of the actual plant, unless there is some way to take the DSP with you from distillery to distillery.
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  5. #5
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Well, I've read the sections posted, the "and" "and" formulation is interesting, but I would think at a minimum the registered distillery or plant number (can these differ by the way?) where the whiskey was "produced" has to be shown on the label. And produced as used here seems to mean distilled, this seems clear from the part which refers to spirits produced in one distilling season by one distiller. I would think too where the bottling plant is different that should be stated. And finally, the name or trade name of the distillery which produced (distilled) and warehoused the whiskey should be stated, which seems to suggest that two names should be shown where producer and warehouser are different entities. But I haven't read the standards as a whole and (of course) am not a U.S. lawyer and also I don't know what interpretations of these provisions may have been given by the authorities concerned with them, or whether it is possible to obtain dispense for various reasons from these rules. This is all I can conclude for now.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 11-20-2007 at 15:41.

  6. #6
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Timothy,
    The DSP number could travel with the distillery move unless the old distillery was sold to another distiller. For example DSP 17 was the number for the A Ph Stitzel distillery on Story Avenue in Louisville. When they built Stitzel-Weller they could not take the DSP number with them because they sold the distillery site to Frankfort Distillers Company, so they picked the closest number available, DSP 16 for the new distillery.

    After prohibition, many distilleries paid to get a new number assigned to the distillery because many of the smaller numbers were available again. That is how Belmont and Astor (Bernheim now) became DSP 1 and DSP 2. Much more impresive numbers than the Two-hundred something number they had before prohibition.

    The DSP number is actually for the warehousing facilities more than the distillery. Bonded warehouses are the reason for registering the operation with the government. That is why if a distiller purchases distillate in bulk and has it shipped in a tanker to the distillery, that whiskey is given the DSP number for the receiving distillery because that is where it went into the barrel and began the government paperwork trail. United Distillers did this with many barrels of I W Harper made for them at Brown-Forman when Bernheim was shut down for re-construction. This actually makes a lot of sense from a paperwork viewpoint. It also makes sense from a taste viewpoint. Fermentation and distillation takes about a week, whereas aging takes many years - aged whiskey is mostly made in the warehouse as far as production time is concerned.

    Mike Veach

  7. #7
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    The part of the bonding rule that reads "and the plant (or registered distillery number) in which produced" would mean, according to what Mike is saying, that it is the number of the entering and aging plant that is the key for this purpose. This may explain why some bonded bottles bear the name of a DSP at which the whiskey was apparently not distilled but where no doubt it was aged all its life. Yet, other distilleries have put a DSP of a distillery where the product actually was distilled although aged elsewhere. It may be that different parts of the industry interpret the rules differently or perhaps there is evolving one uniform interpretation, maybe under the influence of the regulator, I just don't know. Also, unless all the facts are known and an "insiders" knowledge (such as the industry has including the legal side) is available, I feel it is difficult to know with certainty what the position is in some cases...

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 11-21-2007 at 08:04.

  8. #8
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Gary,
    I always thought that the real reason Wild Turkey is 101 proof instead of bonded was because Austin-Nichols did not own a distillery or warehouse facility so they did not want to tell where the whiskey came from because it could vary from year to year. If the whiskey is in the barrel and someone else purchases the barrel and bottles it as bonded, the original DSP number is used as well as the DSP number of the Bottling distillery. You see this a lot on prohibition era whiskey. Many brands were kept alive because they purchased whiskey for other distilleries after there own whiskey ran out.

    Mike Veach

  9. #9
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Quote Originally Posted by bourbonv View Post
    Timothy,
    The DSP number could travel with the distillery move unless the old distillery was sold to another distiller. For example DSP 17 was the number for the A Ph Stitzel distillery on Story Avenue in Louisville. When they built Stitzel-Weller they could not take the DSP number with them because they sold the distillery site to Frankfort Distillers Company, so they picked the closest number available, DSP 16 for the new distillery.

    Mike Veach
    My question is: If someone owns a distillery, say DSP 16, but is not distilling there, can they take their DSP number and use it at another distillery, say DSP 1. If Bernhiem can be both DSP 1 and DSP 2, could it also be DSP 16?
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  10. #10
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    Re: What is Bonded Exactly?

    Timothy,
    The quick answer is no. The longer answer with the reason is that Bernheim is DSP 1 and DSP 2 because there were two seperate operations there at one time even though they were owned by the same company. Now, if Stitzel-Weller ceased to exist and was torn down, it would be possible for a seperate company formed using one of the warehouses at Bernheim, to add DSP 16 to the site. The DSP number "16" would then be available for use and Heaven Hill would have to claim the number before someone else did so. I would think that if DSP 16 became available, Buffalo Trace and Julian would jump all over it for their use.

    Mike Veach

 

 

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