Bottled-in-Bond Bourbons are Moving Up the Shelf

Sep. 28, 2015

Bourbon Rack House

While much of the bourbon category’s growth has focused on the premium and ultra-premium brands, by all indications the next wave of the bourbon resurgence might just be from an unsuspecting category with higher proof and a lower price point: Bottled-in-bond.

Bottled-in-bond (BIB) bourbons are experiencing a revival as consumers and industry professionals seek out truly authentic bourbon experiences.

"Being as regulated as it is, bottled-in-bond bourbon is one of the most honest things happening in American spirits right now," said Eric Rosentreter, Tasting Coordinator at the Beverage Testing Institute. "There is currently a lot of smoke and mirrors going on in whiskey. The BIB resurgence is refreshing to see."  

The term bottled-in-bond is a legal one, and it refers to the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. This act ensured that any whiskey bearing the name "Bottled-in-Bond" was produced by the same distiller, at the same distillery, during the same distilling season, aged for at least four years in newly charred American Oak barrels, unadulterated except for dilution water and bottled at exactly 100 proof. 

"That right there eliminates a lot of blending. There might not be an age statement on the bottle but you know it has to be at least four years old and 100 proof. That is just how it’s always been," said Rosentreter.

The act was created to protect consumers from distillers who tainted their product with fillers or flavorings. Everything from vodka to everclear was sold as ‘whiskey’ at that time, with artificial colorings added to help sell the disguised spirit.

Despite the strict regulations required to produce a BIB bourbon, these whiskeys are often sold at a lower price point, and positioned on low shelves.

"Bonded warehouses are federally protected and the only people who have keys to those warehouses are federal agents, so there isn’t a whole lot of overhead going into those products," said Rosentreter. "BIB are a lot more cost effective from a labor standpoint too.  They typically don’t have the marketing behind them and so usually they are just there, sitting on a lower shelf waiting to be discovered."

That’s not a bad thing however, as consumers, and more importantly bartenders, are beginning to realize the quality of these bourbons.

"I’ve always been a huge advocate of bonded whiskeys in cocktails," said Rosentreter. "It has been my opinion that if you start dipping below 100 proof on spirits in cocktails, then by the time you get the water and accoutrements in there, the whiskey tends to disappear."

Suppliers are starting to take notice of this trend as well, which is evident by the handful of new BIB bourbons coming to market.

"There is huge movement in the BIB category. It is getting to the point where you can’t even find some brands on the shelf anymore," added Rosentreter.  "The higher proof and the lower price point is an extremely powerful combination in the market."

Get ahead of this bourbon trend by stocking up on a variety of BIB bourbons. It is American bourbon in its purest form, and that’s something everyone is getting behind.

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