The Bottled in Bond Act, presented in full on it's 120th Anniversary

It's the 120th Anniversary of the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond act on the third of March, 2017. In commemoration of that, I am presenting the full text of the bill for you to read at your leisure. Maybe with a drink of Bonded bourbon close to hand.

I'm also happy to announce that the Bottled-in-Bond poster (shown above) that I designed last year for my patrons is now available for purchase at

CHAP. 379.—An Act To allow the bottling of distilled spirits in bond. 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States ofAmerica in Congress assembled, That whenever any distilled spirits deposited in the warehouse of a distillery having a surveyed daily capacity of not less than twenty bushels of grain, which capacity or not less than twenty bushels thereof is commonly used by the distiller, have been duly entered for withdrawal upon payment of tax, or for export in bond, and have been gauged and the required marks, brands, and tax-paid stamps or export stamps, as the case may be, have been affixed to the package or packages containing the same, the distiller or owner of said distilled spirits, if he has declared his purpose so to do in the entry for withdrawal, which entry for bottling purposes may be made by the owner as well as the distiller, may remove such spirits to a separate portion of said warehouse which shall be set apart and used exclusively for that purpose, and there, under the supervision of a United States storekeeper, or storekeeper and gauger, in charge of such warehouse may immediately draw off such spirits, bottle, pack, and case the same: 

Provided, That for convenience in such process any number of packages of spirits of the same kind, differing only in proof, but produced at the same distillery by the same distiller, may be mingled together in a cistern provided for that purpose, but nothing herein shall authorize or permit any mingling of different products, or of the same products of different distilling seasons, or the addition or the subtraction of any substance or material or the application of any method or process to alter or change in any way the original condition or character of the product except as herein authorized; nor shall there be at the same time in the bottling room of any bonded warehouse any spirits entered for withdrawal upon payment of the tax and any spirits entered for export: Provided also, That under such regulations and limitations as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, may prescribe, the provisions of this Act may be made to apply to the bottling and casing of fruit brandy in special bonded warehouses. 

Every bottle when filled shall have affixed thereto and passing over the mouth of the same such suitable adhesive engraved strip stamp as may be prescribed, as hereinafter provided, and shall be packed into cases to contain six bottles or multiples thereof, and in the aggregate not less than two nor more than five gallons in each case, which shall be immediately removed from the distillery premises. Each of such cases shall have affixed thereto a stamp denoting the number of gallons therein contained, such stamp to be affixed to the case before its removal from the warehouse, and such stamps shall have a cash value of ten cents each, and shall be charged at that rate to the collectors to whom issued, and shall be paid for at that rate by the distiller or owner using the same. 

And there shall be plainly burned on the side of each case, to be known as the Government side, the proof of the spirits, the registered distillery number, the State and district in which the distillery is located, the real name of the actual bona fide distiller, the year and distilling season, whether spring or fall, of original inspection or entry into bond, and the date of bottling, and the same wording shall be placed upon the adhesive engraved strip stamp over the mouth of the bottle. It being understood that the spring season shall include the months from January to July, and the fall season the months from July to January. 

And no trade-marks shall be put upon any bottle unless the real name of the actual bona fide distiller shall also be placed conspicuously on said bottle. 

SEC. 2. That the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, may, by regulations, prescribe the mode of separating and securing the additional warehouse, or portion of the warehouse hereinbefore required to be set apart, the manner in which the business of bottling spirits in bond shall be carried on, the notices, bonds, and returns to be given and accounts and records to be kept by the persons conducting such business, the mode and time of inspection of such spirits, the accounts and records to be kept and returns made by the Government officers, and all such other matters and things, as in his discretion, he may deem requisite for a secure and orderly supervision of said business; and he may also, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, prescribe and issue the stamps required. 

The distiller and may, in the presence of the United States storekeeper, or storekeeper and gauger, remove by straining through cloth, felt, or other like material any charcoal, sediment, or other like substance found therein, and may whenever necessary reduce such spirits as are withdrawn for bottling purposes by the addition of pure water only to one hundred per centum proof for spirits for domestic use, or to not less than eighty per centum proof for spirits for export purposes, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury; and no spirits shall be withdrawn for bottling under this Act until after the period shall have expired within which a distiller may request a regauge of distilled spirits as provided in section fifty of the Act of August twenty-eighth, eighteen hundred and ninety-four. 

SEC. 3. That all distilled.spirits intended for export under the provisions of this Act shall be inspected, bottled, cased, weighed, marked, labeled, stamped, or sealed in such manner and at such time as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue may prescribe; and the said Commissioner, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, may provide such regulations for the transportation, entry, reinspection, and lading of such spirits for export as may from time to time be deemed necessary; and all provisions of existing law relating to the exportation of distilled spirits in bond, so far as applicable, and all penalties therein imposed, are hereby extended and made applicable to distilled spirits bottled for export under the provisions of this Act, but no drawbacks shall be allowed or paid upon any spirits bottled under this Act. 

SEC. 4. That where, upon inspection at the bonded warehouse in which the spirits are bottled as aforesaid, the quantity so bottled and cased for export is less than the quantity actually contained in the distiller's original casks or packages at the time of withdrawal for that purpose the tax on the loss or deficiency so ascertained shall be paid before the removal of the spirits from such warehouse, and the tax so paid shall be receipted and accounted for by the collector in such manner as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue may prescribe. 

SEC. 5. That where, upon reinspection at the port of entry, any case containing or purporting to contain distilled spirits for export is found to have been opened or tampered with, or where any mark, brand, stamp, label, or seal placed thereon or upon any bottle contained therein has been removed, changed, or willfully defaced, or where upon such reinspection any loss or discrepancy is found to exist as to the contents of any case so entered for export, the tax on the spirits contained in each such case at the time of its removal from warehouse shall be collected and paid.

SEC. 6. That any person who shall reuse any stamp provided under this Act after the same shall have been once affixed to bottle as provided herein, or who shall reuse a bottle for the purpose of containing distilled spirits which has once been filled and stamped under the provisions of this Act without removing and destroying the stamp so previously affixed to such bottle, or who shall, contrary to the provisions of this Act or of the regulations issued thereunder remove or cause to be removed from any bonded warehouse any distilled spirits inspected or bottled under the provisions of this Act, or who shall bottle or case any such spirits in violation of this Act or of any regulation issued thereunder, or who shall, during the transportation and before the exportation of any such spirits, open or cause to be opened any case or bottle containing such spirits, or who shall willfully remove, change, or deface any stamp, brand, label, or seal affixed to any such case or to any bottle contained therein, shall for each such offense be fined not less than one hundred nor more than one thousand dollars, and be imprisoned not more than two years, in the discretion of the court, and such spirits shall be forfeited to the United States. 

SEC. 7. That every person who, with intent to defraud, falsely makes, forges, alters, or counterfeits any stamp made or used under any provision of this Act, or who uses, sells, or has in his possession any such forged, altered, or counterfeited stamp, or any plate or die used or which may be used in the manufacture thereof, or who shall make, use, sell, or have in his possession any paper in imitation of the paper used in the manufacture of any stamp required by this Act, shall on conviction be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars and by imprisonment at hard labor not exceeding five years. 

SEC. 8. That nothing in this Act shall he construed to exempt spirits bottled under the provisions of this Act from the operation of chapter seven hundred and twenty-eight of the public laws of the Fifty-first Congress, approved August eighth, eighteen hundred and ninety. 

Approved, March 3, 1897. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!

I'm happy to announce that my Bottled-in-Bond poster shown above is now for sale at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act.

Outryder Bottled in Bond and a question on labeling a whiskey "bonded"

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Verde Brand Communications for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. 

Do two different types of whiskey represent the same kind of spirit? That is tonight's question. Is a bourbon whiskey and a rye whiskey the same kind of spirit? Or are they both just "whiskey?"

The reason I ask is that as we see new bonded products come onto the market, we need to take a look at what makes a product able to be labeled as Bottled in Bond. We all know the high points: 100 proof, at least four years old, the product of one distilling season. But I once made a poster out of the Bottled in Bond Act. And if that were all it was, I wouldn't have needed to make it two by three feet in size. It's a long act, and it goes into a lot of detail. 

The part of the 1897 Act that peaked my interest was as follows: 

"Provided, That for convenience in such process any number of packages of spirits of the same kind, differing only in proof, but produced at the same distillery by the same distiller, may be mingled together in a cistern provided for that purpose, but nothing herein shall authorize or permit any mingling of different products, or of the same products of different distilling seasons." 

In today's regs, that boils down to the following from Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Part 5, Subpart D: 

"§5.42   Prohibited practices.
(b) Miscellaneous.
(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;"

So I ask again. Would a mingling of a bourbon with a whiskey with a different majority grain qualify? Or is the interpretation of "spirit" more loosely applied so that the generic term "whiskey" is enough to be eligible? I'm not a lawyer, so I'm going to leave this up to you to decide. Please feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below. I really don't believe that there was any intent to deceive and I applaud people trying to get more bonded products out into the market. I'm just asking the question on whether the labeling was approved appropriately. 
But enough about what's on the outside of the bottle, let's talk about what's on the inside. Outryder from Wyoming Whiskey is a blend of Straight whiskeys distilled in November of 2011. One whiskey is a bourbon with a mash bill of 68% corn, 20% winter rye, and 12% malted barley. The second has no majority grain and has a mash bill of 48% winter rye, 40% corn, and 12% malted barley. The suggested retail price is about $55.


Purchase info: This sample was provided to me for review purposes. Suggested retail price is $54.99.

Details: 50% ABV. A blend of two different mash bills. One Bourbon, one American Whiskey.

Nose: Reminds me of a Canadian Whiskey. Bubblegum, mint, butterscotch and sawdust. 

Mouth: Follows the nose with bubblegum and mint. This is supported by eucalyptus, black pepper, baking spices and black tea.

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering butterscotch, eucalyptus
and spice.

Thoughts: This is pretty good and is worth taking a look at if you see it somewhere. I like it and if I found myself in Wyoming, I could certainly see it coming home with me as a souvenir.

I'm assuming you are done shopping for others at this point. But there is nothing to say that you shouldn't get yourself a little something now that you've spent the last month or more getting things from others. If you are in the market for handcrafted bourbon related items, stop by to see what I've been making lately.

Statements of Age and Door County Distillery Bourbon

§ 5.40 Statements of Age and Percentage. 
    (a) Statements of age and percentage for whisky. In the case of straight whisky bottled in conformity with the bottled in bond labeling requirements and of domestic or foreign whisky, whether or not mixed or blended, all of which is 4 years old or more, statements of age and percentage are optional. As to all other whiskies there shall be stated the following: 
    (1) In the case of whisky, whether or not mixed or blended but containing no neutral spirits, the age of the youngest whisky. The age statement shall read substantially as follows: ‘‘___ years old.’’ 

The above comes from the US Government Publishing Office. Seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it? If your whiskey is bottled in bond or not, if it is produced in the US or not, if it is blended or not, statements of age are optional if it is over 4 years of age. For all other whisky the age shall be stated as shown above.

Yet even though it seems pretty straightforward and I was able to find it with less than 5 minutes spent on Google, this seems to be a something that is still hard to figure out for some small distillers. I mean, I get it. I’m a pretty smart person that has above average reading comprehension skills. And seriously, lawyers are notorious for writing laws that only another lawyer can understand, amirite? When you are starting a small business, who has the money for a lawyer to help you decode all those pesky laws?

Well, our helpful government has you covered there too. Can’t quite make out the particulars of the law? They provide a helpful guide in plain English that tells you what you need to do. It’s called the Beverage Alcohol Manual. And it is super easy to read. 

If you look at Chapter One: Mandatory Label Information (PDF), it tells you all about what is required on the label. Scroll down to Section 13 (it’s on page 1-14) . Don’t feel like it? That’s ok, I’ll paste it below. 

REQUIRED A statement of age is required for: 
• All types of whisky aged less than 4 years

Ok but seriously, age is just a number? Right. You’re only as old as you feel and maybe this whiskey doesn’t feel like its only a year old. Well, they have you covered there too. If you look at Chapter 8: Statements of Age (PDF), the very first thing defines "age" for you. Sorry I may only feel like I’m 25, but the government (and my knees) can tell you I’m closer to 45 than I am to 25. And in case clicking that link is a hardship, I’ll paste this too.

• Age is the period during which, after distillation and before bottling, distilled spirits have been stored in oak containers 
• For bourbon, rye, wheat, malt or rye malt whiskies and straight whiskies, other than straight corn whisky (which must be stored in used or uncharred new oak containers), the oak container must be a charred new oak container

So there you have it. A very quick lesson in whiskey age statements. Just because you don’t know the law, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply to you.

I did this little primer, because I recently visited Door County, Wisconsin. Since I had last visited the area, about 5 years or so ago, a winery I used to visit had expanded to have a distillery as part of their business. When I visited, I noticed that they had a bourbon out on the shelf. Even better, there was no age statement on it. Doing a little math in my head on how long it had been since I was there last, I realized that if they had broken ground right after I was there and had everything go right in the building and licensing process there was an off chance that it was actually four years old. Barely.

So I introduced myself and asked if there was someone I could talk to about the bourbon. The lady behind the counter seemed to be in charge and told me I could talk to her. My first question was, as you might have guessed, “How old is the bourbon?” She told me just under a year…


So I asked again? Really? Because I see there is no age statement on the label and I’m sure you are aware that if it is under four years of age, whiskey needs an age statement. Well, unfortunately she got a little defensive and told me that everything that the law requires is on their label. “Because they are pretty strict about that stuff.” Not looking to upset her further, I bought my bottle and decided to write the company and see if they would provide further clarification. 

They did not. I told them I would publish last Thursday and then held off until now just to see if there would be a response. There wasn’t. So I am forced to conclude that Door County Distillery Bourbon Whiskey is really about a year old and that they are in violation of labeling laws. Hopefully they will get this matter fixed because I really don’t believe they intend to deceive their customers. 

Door County Distillery Bourbon Whiskey

Purchase Info: $24.99 for a 375 mL bottle at the distillery.

Details: 40% ABV

Nose: Corn, cinnamon, dried fruit

Mouth: Sweet and spicy with notes of honey, granola and cinnamon spice

Finish: Short with lingering honey and cinnamon spice


Thoughts: This is much better than I had expected from a bourbon that I have to assume is only a year or so old. In fact, I’m really very pleasantly surprised. Does it taste like fully mature bourbon? No. But it does taste like a good young bourbon. It nicely balances youthful brashness with a light barrel influence. And it was a nice vacation souvenir. I like this for what it is. I just hope they get their label in compliance because if you were expecting a fully mature bourbon, you’d be very disappointed and much less charitable. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!