When you look at words on a whiskey label, think of them as boy scouts earning badges. Just like some boy scouts, not all whiskies earn all the badges. The words, “DISTILLED BY” or “DISTILLED AND BOTTLED BY” is a badge. This means that the companies name that follows these words actually made the whiskey.If it says “PRODUCED BY” or just “BOTTLED BY”, or “DISTILLED IN INDIANA BOTTLED BY”, OR “DISTILLED IN KENTUCKY BOTTLED BY” this usually means that company sourced and bought the whiskey from someone else and they did not distill it. It’s not a bad thing. Just like if you bought Ethan Allen furniture from someone that bought it and then re-sold it. It’s still Ethan Allen furniture, you’re just paying more for it now.
The word WHISKEY , or WHISKY: it is not just vodka or neutral grain spirits, it is Whiskey.Made from any grain, anywhere in the world, produced up to 190 proof, aged in oak and must look, smell, and taste like whiskey, and they can add colors and flavors to get it to do so, and bottled at no less than 80 proof.If you meet these criteria, you earn the WHISKEY BADGE.
BOURBON is another badge. It’s not just whiskey, it’s Bourbon; the majority grain is corn, it must be distilled in the United States, distilled under 160 proof, aged in a charred new oak container at no more than 125 proof. RYE, WHEAT, RYE MALT, and MALT are also badges. Just the majority grains change accordingly.
STRAIGHT: aged in wooden containers for a minimum of 2 years, nothing added except pure water.
KENTUCKY: is a badge.You might not think this is a badge, but would you like to drink Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, or Florida Straight Bourbon Whiskey? We have the limestone filtered water here in Kentucky, as well as the extreme heat and cold.In Florida it would be mostly hot, and little cold. With North Dakota Straight Bourbon Whiskey it would be mostly cold with not as much heat.So just like there’s a difference with Brandy and Cognac, Kentucky is a badge.
An AGE STATEMENT is also a badge since every drop must be no younger than the stated age.
SMALL BATCH, SINGLE BARREL are badges, and although not legally defined, they are still a designation.
These are great badges to look for in a whiskey, but if you want the EAGLE SCOUT of whiskey (or spirits in general) then BOTTLED IN BOND has ALL the badges. If the words, BONDED, BOTTLED IN BOND, AGED IN BOND, etc are on the label, then they must meet these badges above, but also;
the same kind of spirits produced from the same class of materials.
Produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery
Stored for at least FOUR years in wooden containers
Reduced in proof by the addition of pure water only to exactly 100 degrees of proof
Label shall bear the real name of the distillery
Label shall bear the registered plant number (DSP# or Distilled Spirits Premisis #)
The Plant number in which bottled.
This might not guarantee that you will like the flavor of each and every Bottled in Bond Whiskey out there, but it does insure that it is the most regulated, A.K.A. the EAGLE SCOUT of Whiskies! So I ask you, why wouldn’t you want every single one on your bar!? I do on mine!
Bernie Lubbers; Whiskey Professor