Bottled in Bond Whiskeys Are Gaining in Popularity. Here’s Why Craft Distilleries Are All in.

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J. Rieger & Co. just launched a new bottled-in-bond bourbon that was produced entirely in-house at the Kansas City distillery. This release is part of a growing trend among smaller craft distilleries, many of which finally have whiskey old enough to meet the criteria of this highly regulated category.

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In the whiskey world, the term “bottled in bond” means that the spirit meets a few specific guidelines set by the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897—it’s at least four years old, bottled at 100 proof, the product of one distillery and one distilling season, and aged in federally bonded warehouses. The original intention of the BIB Act was to regulate whiskey at a time when distilleries and bottlers were adding color and flavor that came from dubious (and sometimes deadly) sources. The BIB designation was an assurance of quality, something that doesn’t really apply anymore given how tightly regulated categories like bourbon are. Still, it’s a designation that still has real and nostalgic value, and one that many small distilleries are giving their whiskey. It’s also a sign that they finally have stock that’s more than four years old, after initially releasing much younger whiskey in the years after opening.

J. Rieger & Co. opened in 2014, the revival of a distillery that closed during Prohibition. The core whiskey is a blend of sourced and in-house distilled spirits—bourbon, corn whiskey, rye, and a bit of Oloroso sherry from Spain. But the bottled-in-bond bourbon is entirely distilled in-house, as required by law, and at six years old is two years older than it needs to be. This is the second BIB bourbon release from J. Rieger, which also has two BIB ryes in its whiskey portfolio.

It’s not just craft distilleries releasing BIB whiskeys—Jack Daniel’s launched one last year, and other big names like like Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, George Dickel, and Jim Beam all have bottled-in-bond expressions. But they’ve all got plenty of whiskey in their warehouses that’s at least four years old, which is something the small guys and girls have to work towards. And this is happening all around the country. Washington D.C. distillery District Made just released a BIB bourbon that was distilled in 2015, a very small release of just three barrels out of seven that were filled. In Colorado, Laws Whiskey House just dropped the 2023 edition of its Bottled in Bond San Luis Valley Rye – Batch #4, an annual release that gets a bit older every year. Ohio’s Watershed Distillery has a four-year-old BIB bourbon available. And in Texas, Still Austin has a new BIB bourbon on the way this summer, the first of four planned whiskeys.

You can find the new J. Rieger Bottled in Bond Bourbon available to purchase from Mash & Grape. And if you want to sample other BIB whiskeys from distilleries big and small, both ReserveBar and Flaviar have pretty good selections to peruse.

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