America Moves in a New Direction

The 1890s were considered a “watershed” decade for America. This was an era that brought about  significant changes heading into the next century, a turning point for a decade marred by depression, disenfranchisement, and segregation. All of this happened while the nation was also being stimulated from ongoing industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and suffrage movements. As a result, the government would take a more prominent place in the day to day lives of Americans through legislation.

The decade saw three presidents in office, Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893), Grover Cleveland (1893-1897) and William McKinley (1897-1901).  It was during President Cleveland’s administration that Colonel Edmund Haynes (E.H.) Taylor, Jr. became heavily involved with the creation, and eventual adoption, of what is now known as the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 (Officially “An Act To Allow The Bottling of Distilled Spirits in Bond”).

Colonel Edmund Haynes (E.H.) Taylor, Jr.

Colonel Edmund Haynes (E.H.) Taylor, Jr., also known as the “Godfather of the Bottled-in-Bond Act” and the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry”, purchased a small distillery in 1870 and renamed it O.F.C., which would eventually become what is known today as Buffalo Trace. Later on he would become the founder of the Old Taylor Distillery Company (now Castle & Key).  Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. became known as an innovator, bridging old and new styles and techniques, and is one of the most renowned craftsmen in the industry to this day. He was also active in politics. Late in the 1890’s, Taylor would push for legislative changes within the whiskey industry. Towards the end of the decade, he lobbied for the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897. Shortly thereafter he also left his mark on the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

An Act To Allow The Bottling Of Distilled Spirits in Bond – March 3, 1897

The late 19th century saw a rise in faux products, harmful ingredients, and dangerous claims used in regards to whiskey. The industry was relatively unregulated which left consumers largely unprotected and vulnerable. As a result, The Bottled-in-Bond (BiB) Act of 1897 was introduced in an effort to remedy the issues plaguing American whiskey.  The act empowered the Federal Government to be the guarantor of the legitimacy of distilled spirits. While this was not a guarantee of quality tasting whiskey, it did guarantee that all whiskey would be held to the same high standards during production. Additionally, the BiB Act afforded distillers tax incentives by suspending tax payments on the warehoused whiskey pending maturation while streamlining the accounting and collection of taxes.

In order for a whiskey to be labeled Bottled-in-Bond, as outlined in the 1897 Act, the following rules must be met:

  • It must be the product of one distillation season.
  • It must be the product of one distiller at a single distillery.
  • It must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision.
  • It must be aged a minimum of 4 years.
  • It must be bottled at exactly 100 proof.
  • The label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and bottled (if different).

For the full, unabridged Act, follow this link: An Act to Allow The Bottling of Distilled Spirits in Bond – March 3, 1897

A Selection of Current Popular BiB Offerings

  • Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch Bottled-In-Bond
  • Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled-In-Bond
  • New Riff Bottled-In-Bond
  • Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond Straight Bourbon
  • Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-In-Bond
  • Old Grand-dad Bottled-In-Bond
  • Old Forester 1897 Bottled-In-Bond
  • Wilderness Trail Bottled-In-Bond

And many many more!

2 Comments

  1. So in essence, bonded whiskey was guaranteed by the government to meet these certain standards and assure buyers a quality product that was not artificially flavored, colored, etc.?

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    1. Hello Scott! Yes, the market was becoming saturated with pretenders selling inferior product to consumers. The industry was relatively light in regulation at that time. It included benefits to the distillers as well. The Act allowed distilleries to postpone tax liabilities until distribution rather than as it was taken off the stills. Thanks!

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