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New Bottled-in-Bond Celebration

New bourbon event honors the bottled-in-bond act and the Northern Kentuckian behind it.


By Kathy Witt


We can all thank a guy from Covington, Kentucky, for keeping iodine, tobacco, and paint thinner out of bourbon.


Although more connected with American politics than the bourbon industry, John G. Carlisle—who lived from 1835 to 1910 and served as Speaker of the House, Secretary of the Treasury, and U.S. Senator—was the mover and shaker behind the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.


Prior to this legislation, bourbon distilling was like The Wild Wild West in terms of governance, and bourbon makers—many of whom were considered whisky outlaws—were free to put all sorts of unsavory substances into their spirits to add color and flavor. Northern Kentucky’s Carlisle shepherded the Act through Congress.


“We recognize the Act not only as America’s first product protection legislation, but also as no less than the world’s highest quality standard for a brown, aged spirit,” says Jay Erisman, “Whiskey Man” and co-founder of New Riff Distilling, whose entire distilling philosophy is based on the Bottled-in-Bond tradition. “We’re proud to provide a new riff on this greatest of Kentucky whiskey traditions—and bring it back home to Northern Kentucky where it started with John G. Carlisle.”


The John G. Carlisle Bottled in Bond Competition & Celebration


2022 marks the 125th anniversary of the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act, and to celebrate meetNKY in partnership with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is hosting and sponsoring a new event named for bourbon’s quality assurance hero.


The John G. Carlisle Bottled-in-Bond Competition & Celebration takes place at Smoke Justis in Covington, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3—the date nationally known as Bottled-in-Bond Day. It is the first in the Kentucky’s Edge series of events planned for 2022.


Whiskey fans and bourbon curious folks alike are invited to join the small gathering to celebrate this auspicious day and the influence Carlisle had on guiding this important Act through Congress with his compatriot, whiskey world visionary Colonel E.H. Taylor, who is considered the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry.”


During the event, you’ll be treated to a four-course food experience along with four blind pours and a guided tasting of some of the best Bottled-in-Bond varietals in the U.S. Then voice your choice—that’s right, no “official” judges here—as we determine the year’s best Bottled-in-Bond on which to bestow the coveted John G. Carlisle Award.


A limited number of event tickets are available; tickets are priced at $40 per person and may be purchased here.


Bottled-in-Bond Primer


As one of the very first consumer protection acts in American history, the Bottled-in-Bond Act actually beat out the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 by nearly a decade.


“It’s higher than the standards in Scotland,” says Erisman, “and far higher than the standards in such great spirits regions as Japan (whisky) and France (cognac).”


Not every whiskey carries the Bottled-in-Bond label. In fact, to earn this benchmark distinction, bourbon must meet specific criteria, including being the product of one distillation season; aged in bond at least four years; bottled at 100 proof; and labeled with the location of the distillery and the bottling. Of course, as is true of all bourbons, it must be produced in the United States.


As the local Bottled-in-Bond favorite, New Riff honors the tradition by ensuring this level of quality in its bourbon. “We realized, if we really mean it—that quality has to come first at New Riff—how can we not bottle every whiskey we make as Bottled-in-Bond?” says Erisman. “And, excepting our barrel proof single barrel versions, that’s exactly what we do—with the added quality enhancement of bottling without chill filtration.”


March 3 is Bottled-in-Bond Day. It’s also your chance to be among the first to participate in a new and exclusive event celebrating everything Bottled-in-Bond; sample and judge fine Bottled-in-Bond bourbons paired with delicious foods; and pay tribute to a guy from Northern Kentucky who put the stamp of authenticity on bourbon. Join the fun at the John G. Carlisle Bottled in Bond Competition & Celebration during the 125th anniversary of the passage of the Bottled In Bond Act on Bottled-in-Bond Day.