What is Bottled in Bond?

 In Blog, What is?

The Bottled-In-Bond Act was passed March 3, 1897 by the U.S. Federal Government. It wasn’t until about four years later in 1901 that the law officially went into effect. The law required spirits makers to age their spirits and label bottles according to a strict set of legal regulations. This law guaranteed consumers that what was advertised on the bottle was actually in the bottle. Prior to sealed bottles, it was not uncommon for unscrupulous re-sellers to add their own water or color to stretch out their supply of spirits. The law also helped with tax reporting since the government “revenuer” was tracking the inventory. It took a while for the benefits of the law to catch on with consumers. It was up to the distilleries to educate the public. Some modern distillers use “Bottled-in-Bond” to help market their product while others that technically qualify choose not to label their product this way.

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Book Cover - Secretary of the Treasury 1911 - Bottled in Bond 1I’ll share both the short and the long definition. First, the short then, if you want more detail you can read on. If you still want more detail you can follow the link to the .gov website and learn more. There’s also a summary from a 1911 “Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the Finances” that shares some insights on acceptance of the law and the growth in it’s reporting from distillers.

Bottled in Bond Act of 1897

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:

  1. Composed of the same kind of spirits produced from the same class of materials
  2. Produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery. (Note: There are two distilling “Seasons” per year. “It being understood that the Spring season shall include the months from January to July, and the Fall season the months from July to December.)
  3. Stored for at least four years in wooden containers wherein the spirits have been in contact with the wood surface except for gin and vodka which must be stored for at least four years in wooden containers coated or lined with paraffin or other substance which will preclude contact of the spirits with the wood surface
  4. Unaltered from their original condition or character by the addition or subtraction of any substance other than by filtration, chill proofing, or other physical treatments (which do not involve the addition of any substance which will remain incorporated in the finished product or result in a change in class or type)
  5. Reduced in proof by the addition of pure water only to 100 degrees of proof (50% ABV); and
  6. Bottled at 100 degrees of proof.

In addition, the label shall bear the real name of the distillery or the trade name under which the distillery produced and warehoused the spirits, and the plant (or registered distillery) number in which produced; and the plant number in which bottled. The label may also bear the name or trade name of the bottler. Each bottle containing such spirits must have affixed thereto an adhesive engraved stamp, extending over the mouth of the bottle, showing the season of production, the date of bottles, the degree of proof and the name and district of the bona fide distiller of the spirits. Severe penalties are imposed by the act of reusing any stamp so affixed or for reusing any bottle so filled without first destroying the stamp affixed.

1911 Report of the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue

 

Book Cover - Secretary of the Treasury 1911 - Bottled in Bond 2

 

Here’s more detail as provided by the U.S. Government Publishing Office. Click the link if you still want more details.

§5.42   Prohibited practices.

(a) Statements on labels. Bottles containing distilled spirits, or any labels on such bottles, or any individual covering, carton, or other container of such bottles used for sale at retail, or any written, printed, graphic, or other matter accompanying such bottles to the consumer shall not contain:

(1) Any statement that is false or untrue in any particular, or that, irrespective of falsity, directly, or by ambiguity, omission, or inference, or by the addition of irrelevant, scientific or technical matter, tends to create a misleading impression.

(2) Any statement that is disparaging of a competitor’s product.

(3) Any statement, design, device, or representation which is obscene or indecent.

(4) Any statement, design, device, or representation of or relating to analyses, standards, or tests, irrespective of falsity, which the appropriate TTB officer finds to be likely to mislead the consumer.

(5) Any statement, design, device, or representation of or relating to any guarantee, irrespective of falsity, which the appropriate TTB officer finds to be likely to mislead the consumer. Money-back guarantees are not prohibited.

(6) A trade or brand name that is the name of any living individual of public prominence, or existing private or public organization, or is a name that is in simulation or is an abbreviation thereof, or any graphic, pictorial, or emblematic representation of any such individual or organization, if the use of such name or representation is likely to falsely lead the consumer to believe that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of, such individual or organization: Provided, That this paragraph shall not apply to the use of the name of any person engaged in business as a distiller, rectifier, blender, or other producer, or as an importer, wholesaler, retailer, bottler, or warehouseman, of distilled spirits, nor to the use by any person of a trade or brand name that is the name of any living individual of public prominence or existing private or public organization, provided such trade or brand name was used by him or his predecessors in interest prior to August 29, 1935.

(b) Miscellaneous. (1) Labels shall not be of such design as to resemble or simulate a stamp of the U.S. Government or any State or foreign government. Labels, other than stamps authorized or required by this or any other government, shall not state or indicate that the distilled spirits are distilled, blended, made, bottled, or sold under, or in accordance with, any municipal, State, Federal, or foreign authorization, law, or regulations, unless such statement is required or specifically authorized by Federal, State, municipal, or foreign law or regulations. The statements authorized by this part to appear on labels for domestic distilled spirits are “Distilled (produced, barreled, warehoused, blended, or bottled, or any combination thereof, as the case may be) under United States (U.S.) Government supervision”, or in the case of distilled spirits labeled as bottled in bond, “Bottled in bond under United States (U.S.) Government supervision”. If the municipal, State, or Federal Government permit number is stated on a label, it shall not be accompanied by any additional statement relating thereto.

(2) If imported distilled spirits are covered by a certificate of origin or of age issued by a duly authorized official of the appropriate foreign government, the label, except where prohibited by the foreign government, may refer to such certificate or the fact of such certification, but shall not be accompanied by any additional statement relating thereto. The reference to such certificate or certification shall, in the case of Cognac, be substantially in the following form: “This product accompanied at the time of importation by an ‘Acquit Regional Jaune d’Or’ issued by the French Government, indicating that this grape brandy was distilled in the Cognac Region of France”; and in the case of other distilled spirits, substantially in the following form: “This product accompanied at time of importation by a certificate issued by the __ government (name of government) indicating that the product is __ (class and type as required to be stated on the label), and (if label claims age) that none of the distilled spirits are of an age less than stated on this label.”

(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;

(ii) Produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery;

(iii) Stored for at least four years in wooden containers wherein the spirits have been in contact with the wood surface except for gin and vodka which must be stored for at least four years in wooden containers coated or lined with paraffin or other substance which will preclude contact of the spirits with the wood surface;

(iv) Unaltered from their original condition or character by the addition or subtraction of any substance other than by filtration, chill proofing, or other physical treatments (which do not involve the addition of any substance which will remain incorporated in the finished product or result in a change in class or type);

(v) Reduced in proof by the addition of pure water only to 100 degrees of proof; and

(vi) Bottles at 100 degrees of proof.

In addition to the requirements of §5.36(a) (1) or (2), the label shall bear the real name of the distillery or the trade name under which the distillery produced and warehoused the spirits, and the plant (or registered distillery) number in which produced; and the plant number in which bottled. The label may also bear the name or trade name of the bottler.

(4) 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 imported distilled spirits unless the distilled spirits meet in all respects the requirements applicable to distilled spirits bottled for domestic consumption, so labeled, and unless the laws and regulations of the country in which such distilled spirits are produced authorize the bottling of distilled spirits in bond and require or specifically authorize such distilled spirits to be so labeled. All spirits labeled as “bonded”, “bottled in bond”, or “aged in bond” pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph shall bear in direct conjunction with such statement and in script, type, or printing substantially as conspicuous as that used on such statement, the name of the country under whose laws and regulations such distilled spirits were so bottled.

(5) The word “pure” shall not be stated upon labels unless:

(i) It refers to a particular ingredient used in the production of the distilled spirits, and is a truthful representation about that ingredient; or

(ii) It is part of the bona fide name of a permittee or retailer for whom the distilled spirits are bottled; or

(iii) It is part of the bona fide name of the permittee who bottled the distilled spirits.

Cover image courtesy of a post card that was up for sale on Bidstart.

 

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