The History Behind “Bottle and Bond” Bourbon
Features bourbon historian Eric Prime
Episode three of “Happy Hour with Ray and Adam Cox” premiered on July 20th at Elite Beverage in Noblesville, and featured special guest Eric Prime. Expanding on episode two’s topic of bourbon, Eric is a bourbon historian outside of his day job as an attorney. This episode focused on bonded bourbon, which actually was introduced to the world before we had a clear cut definition of what bourbon is.
“Just for the record, I am an amateur historian,” Eric made sure to note. He definitely sold himself short though, because throughout the episode he showed his deep knowledge of “bottle and bond” bourbon.
Bottle and bond bourbon was created in the late 1890’s as a result of people called rectifiers trying to pass off unaged, white whiskey as an aged, brown bourbon by adding iodine, tobacco juice and anything else they could get their hands on. They sold this fake drink at a high price, and the true distillers couldn’t compete. So a legitimate distiller, Colonel Edmund James Taylor Jr., teamed up with the Secretary of State at the time, James Carlisle, and came up with the Bottle and Bond Act in 1897. This act allowed for true distillers to differentiate themselves from the rectifiers by following a set rules in order to put a “bottle and bond” label on their liquors.
The three gentlemen first tried Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy, complete with its own bottle and bond sticker. As always, they lifted up their glasses to a cheers before diving into this 4-year aged liquor.
“Think about buying a fan or any kind of electronic product, what do you look for? The UL seal.” Eric explained. “That’s basically what the bottle and bond was. It was a seal of purity and authenticity that they’d hang their hats on and be able to say ‘This is a legit product’.”