Now here’s a pretty pioneering move for a craft spirits outfit.
New York City’s Kings County Distillery has become one of the rare craft distillers to join the exclusive Bottled-in-Bond club with the release of its own Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, available in allocated quantities in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, DC, Delaware, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The release—the first time Kings County’s Bottled-in-Bond will be available to consumers outside the distillery’s tasting room—was timed to the 120th anniversary of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. Bottled-in-Bond is the most legally constrained class of American Whiskey and has been the gold standard of excellence since its inception as a consumer protection against deceptive marketing. It’s also a mark of transparency, as it communicates to customers that they are purchasing a product that is aged at least four years, is exactly 100 proof, and is distilled by one distiller, at one distillery, from one distilling season.
The Bottled-in-Bond designation emerged from an era when the whiskey produced by traditional distillers, often based in the Ohio River Valley, was forced to compete with cheap, flavored and artificially colored neutral spirits manufactured in giant factories in Chicago, Peoria, and other midwest boom towns. There, even good whiskey would then be diluted or altered by unscrupulous wholesalers or retailers. Bottled-in Bond signaled to the consumer that the whiskey was bottled at the distillery where it was made, and stamped with a government seal all under the watchful eye of federal agents. In the 1980s, the government seal and stamp requirement were relaxed, but there are still some unscrupulous bottlers hoping to deceive consumers about the provenance of their whiskey.
Kings County Distillery pulled barrels from its standard bourbon mash bill of 80 percent New York State organic corn and 20 percent English malt. These were twice distilled in 26-gallon pot stills back in the fall of 2012 and entered into charred, new-oak 15-gallon barrels at 116 proof. The distillery selected 9 of those barrels for this release, and blended them into a batch that was bottled on Dec. 21. Total yield was 40 cases of 24 375ml bottles with a 40 percent angel’s share.