Bottled-in-Bond Day is Celebrated Every March 3 in NKY. Here’s Why.

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

Northern Kentuckian John G. Carlisle was the mover and shaker behind the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, celebrated annually on the day it became law: March 3.

Bourbon Before Bottled-in-Bond

Prior to this legislation, bourbon distilling was like the 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. Carlisle, who lived from 1835 to 1910 and served as Speaker of the House, Secretary of the Treasury and U.S. Senator, was the one who shepherded the Act through Congress.

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, setting some of the highest standards for spirit manufacturing in the world.

But 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 a federally bonded warehouse at least four years; bottled at 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume); 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.

Celebrating Bottled-in-Bond Day

Since 2022 — the 125th anniversary of the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act — meetNKY has hosted and sponsored an event named for bourbon’s quality assurance hero. The John G. Carlisle Bottled-in-Bond Competition & Celebration takes place annually on March 3, also known as Bottled-in-Bond Day. In partnership with meetNKY and The B-Line®, 2023’s event takes place at Smoke Justis and features a guided blind-pour tasting of three of the best Bottled-in-Bond whiskey varietals in the country. The tasting is paired with specially crafted charcuterie boards to complement each flavor profile. 

Attendees will collectively vote to crown the best Bottled-in-Bond whiskey and award it with the John G. Carlisle Award. At the inaugural event in 2022, New Riff Distilling was crowned as the winner.

Whether or not you attend the event, whiskey fans and bourbon curious folks can 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 — considered the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry” — with a cheers.