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This 1978 bottling is a lower proof than what is widely available today: Old Overholt Bottled-In-Bond.

The company eventually became part of National Distillers, which had facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio and Frankfort, Kentucky, and also produced Old Crow, Old Grandad and Old Taylor. In 1987, National Distillers Group sold the spirits business to the Fortune Brands holding company,

“A. Overholt & Co.” He operated out of a new distillery building that was six stories high, 100 feet long, and which could produce 860 gallons per day.

Old Overholt, said to be America’s oldest continually maintained brand of whiskey, was founded in West Overton, Pennsylvania in 1810. Henry Oberholzer (Anglicized to “Overholt”), a German Mennonite farmer, moved to West Overton, Pennsylvania, on the banks of Jacobs Creek in Western Pennsylvania in 1800. His family came from the area of Germany which specialized in distilling “korn”, or rye whiskey, and Henry took up the tradition. In 1810, Henry’s son Abraham Overholt (1784–1870) took over management of the distillery and made it into a business. By the 1820s, the distillery was putting out 12 to 15 gallons of rye whiskey per day. Abraham grew the company rapidly; by 1843, Baltimore newspapers were advertising Overholt’s “Old Rye”; at that time, only the very few top distilleries were advertised by name. By 1859, Overholt incorporated his business as

This 1979 bottling was distilled in the Spring of 1974. The 1970s BIBs were an outlier of the already waning whiskey market at the time as consumers were looking towards clear spirits and liqueurs. It is widely assumed that many of these were used as incentives by wholesalers to peddle other brands. In today’s market, the higher proof bottled-in-bond bourbons are some of the most coveted by collectors and consumers alike.

Some consumers consider the term to be an endorsement of quality, while many producers consider it archaic and do not use it. However, because bottled-in-bond whiskey must be the product of one distillation season, one distillery, and one distiller – whereas ordinary straight whiskey may be a product of the mingling of straight whiskeys (of the same grain type) with differing ages and producers within a single state – it may be regarded as a better indication of the distiller’s skill, making it similar in concept to a single malt whisky, small batch whiskey, or single barrel whiskey.

To be labeled as bottled-in-bond or bonded, the liquor must be the product of one distillation season (January–June or July–December) by one distiller at one distillery. It must have been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 (U.S.) proof (50% alcohol by volume). The bottled product’s label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled. Only spirits produced in the United States may be designated as bonded.

Bottled in bond is a label for an American-made distilled beverage that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal regulations contained in the United States government’s Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. As a reaction to widespread adulteration in American whiskey, the act made the federal government the guarantor of a spirit’s authenticity, gave producers a tax incentive for participating, and helped ensure proper accounting and the eventual collection of the tax that was due. Although the regulations apply to all spirits, most bonded spirits are whiskeys in practice.

Always focusing on quality in the days when bad bourbon was widespread, this 1960s bottling was labeled ‘Gold Medal’ referencing a gold medal at the World’s Fair in New Orleans in 1885.

The I.W. Harper brand has been around since the late 1800s and was created by Mr. Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, a German immigrant who came to the USA in 1867 with $4 in his pocket. After working for a liquor wholesaler, Loeb, Bloom, & Co., and saving up enough money, Isaac brought his brother Bernard to the United States. The Bernheim brothers opened their own liquor operation in 1872 and in the early 1890s the bought a distillery in Louisville, renamed it the Bernheim Distillery, and went to work until their warehouse burned down in 1896. 100 years later, in 1996, the distillery known as the Old Bernheim distillery (Heaven Hill) would burn down after it’s warehouse also caught fire. The Bernheims sold their distillery to the now defunct, but once large, drinks brand Schenley in 1937. Schenley was acquired by an Israeli businessman in 1968 who then sold the company to Guinness in 1987, who is owned by Diageo, which is where the I.W. Harper brand lives today.

Old Taylor Distillery remained in local control after Taylor died in 1922 until National Distillers (ND) acquired the operation in 1935. ND, formed out of a merger in 1934, operated Old Taylor until it was purchased by Jim Beam in 1987. This bottling, distilled in 1985, would have been one of the last of those National Distillers runs to be released by the company—notated by the “86259” in the barcode on the back label. These are highly sought after and are known for being of some of the highest quality whiskeys in the market at the time.

In the late 1940s, Old Taylor bourbon was promoted with the slogan, “Sign of a good host”.

Old Taylor Bourbon was named in honor of Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr., who was born in Columbus, Kentucky, in 1832. Taylor was a grand nephew of U.S. President Zachary Taylor. Like various other figures in the Kentucky whiskey industry, Taylor is often referred to in public relations materials as a “Colonel”, since he held the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel. The honorary title resembles that of the military rank but is not actually associated with military service and has primarily been used for public relations purposes (e.g., by “Colonel” Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken). Taylor started and owned seven different distilleries throughout his career, the most successful being the O.F.C. and Carlisle distilleries, the forerunners of today’s Buffalo Trace Distillery.

finish Follows up on the caramel, rye spice, and hickory wood. Aggressive finish, char is enjoyable and mild.

palate Strong caramel, boisterous and robust hickory, the nose pales in comparison to the quality felt on the palate.

This is a 1990 bottling of the domestic product, distilled at the old Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown prior to it burning down in 1996. This was exported at a later date to the Japanese market. These bottlings are known for being unexpectedly well executed for what was marketed as an inexpensive batch product at the time. The lower proof bundles the flavors and lessens the complexity while showcasing the spirit for what it is meant to be: enjoyed regularly.

Seagram’s closed the Fairfield distillery in 1976, and in an unusual deal, sold the domestic rights to the brand to Heaven Hill a few years later. Seagram’s retained ownership of the export version however, producing it at their Four Roses distillery until their eventual dissolution in the early 2000s.

A bourbon brand with an interesting history. Henry McKenna was distilled by Seagram’s for most of the 20th century at the Henry McKenna distillery in Fairfield, Kentucky, which they acquired from the family in 1941.

1974 Rittenhouse ‘Five Years Old’ 

Straight Rye Whiskey, Italian Export 

75cl, 43% ABV, 86pf


Continental Distilling Corporation

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Continental Distilling Co. was a subsidiary of Publicker Industries, Inc. Publicker Industries began with Mr. Harry Publicker, who started off steaming old whiskey barrels and extracting from them the gallon or two of whiskey that had soaked into the charred wood. This he sold, and when the government tried to prosecute him for not paying the revenue tax on the whiskey, he became highly indignant. In 1912 he built and operated a distillery at the corner of Snyder Street and Swanson Avenue, and at the riverfront between Bigler Street and Packer Ave. After prohibition was repealed, it was only natural for them to apply that leverage of scale and their modern technologies to the production of potable spirits. In August of 1933 they spent what would be over $27 million dollars in today’s money to remodel their smaller distillery into what would become the Continental Distilling Corporation. 

They introduced “Rittenhouse Square Rye” in 1934. It was named after Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square, which itself was named after David Rittenhouse, a renowned astronomer, inventor, and mathematician. The “Square” was dropped from the product’s name in 1948, and it’s remained known as Rittenhouse Rye ever since.

By the 1970s, whiskey had become less popular in America, as clear spirits—vodka in particular—grew in popularity. Bourbon sales were falling, and rye became nearly extinct. The few original rye makers that were still around in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) struggled and began to close. Continental began to wane in the early 1980s. Heaven Hill Distillery swooped in and bought the rights to several rye brands, including Rittenhouse, as the original distilleries went out of business.

Heaven Hill introduced their version of Rittenhouse Rye in the 1990s. Although Heaven Hill is, of course, famous for being a bourbon maker, the company deserves a lot of credit for keeping rye whiskey alive in the US. Even when bourbon started to become a popular drinking choice once again, rye was slower to reemerge. For many years, Heaven Hill spent only a single day per year distilling rye whiskey—the rest of the year was devoted to bourbon. But they kept it alive, even if only once a year.

This 1974 Italian Export bottling was distilled in 1969. In earlier iterations, some export bottles still read as “Bottled-In-Bond” even though the contents were under 100 proof, as the Bottled In Bond laws did not translate overseas. Rye whiskey was incredibly rare in the 1960s and 70s, making this beautiful example of a classic American brand, incredibly unique. 

color  Mahogany and gold, incredibly clean and bright

nose  Dried apricot, dried cherry, sweet pepper, toffee  

palate  Dark cacao, clean, rich, cinnamon, citrus, vanilla, nutmeg 

finish  Lingering maple, spice, white pepper, medium length

ounce cost  $300




Haig & Haig (Now owned by Diageo) Markinch, Scotland

Kane McKenzie Haig founded a distillery in the early 1720s in Kennetpans near Stirling, which became Scotland’s largest distillery by 1733. It has been called the world’s first commercial distillery. Stein had taken over some land and distilling operations from a local monastery. (Stein’s distillery

is now in ruins, and fund-raising was attempted in early 2015 to try to preserve its remnants.)

Robert Haig was a distiller in the early 1600s and a member of the Scottish Clan Haig family. His great-grandson Kane McKenzie Haig, who lived in the Kennetpans area, married Margaret Stein of the Stein family in 1751 and founded the company known as John Haig & Co.

Haig was bottled in a distinctive three-sided bottle with dimpled sides, starting in the 1890s. The bottle was registered as a trademark in the US in 1958 by Julius Lunsford. It and the bottle design for Coca-Cola (which was also registered by Lunsford) were the first two bottle designs to appear in the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

This 1960s bottling was exported to the United States via the exclusive importer at the time, Renfield Importers of Union, New Jersey.

color Pale straw, excellent clarity.
nose Toffee and bananas up front, gentle ginger, nutmeg, nutty spice. palate Sweet and creamy, soft caramel, effervescent cinnamon. finish Complex and light, soft anise, touch of warmth.
ounce cost $35




750ml, 43.4%ABV, 86.8pf


Suntory Holdings Limited

Distillery Yamazaki, Kyoto, Japan

A slight notch down from Suntory Royal is Suntory Special Reserve, another blended whiskey. This one was born in 1969 to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary, being blended by second-generation company president Keizo Saji. The timing of the release is important. Nikka’s first Coffey Still went online at their Nishinomiya facility in 1963, enabling them to release the blended Hi Nikka in 1964. The second-generation Black Nikka was also released in 1965. Both were successful for Nikka, so Suntory needed to respond.

The late 60s and early 70s were pivotal for Japanese whisky for several other reasons too:

• The 1970 World’s Fair, the first ever held in Japan, was right in Suntory’s hometown of Osaka. The company needed a bottle that could appeal to international visitors.

• More foreign whiskies were reaching Japanese shores in the early 70s, meaning Suntory also had to compete with them in their home market.

• These years also saw the birth of distilleries that would help define Japanese whisky for the next several decades: Nikka’s Miyagikyo in 1969, Kirin/Seagram/Chivas Fuji Gotemba in 1972, SunGrain Chita in 1972, Suntory Hakushu in 1973.

Special Reserve helped the company shore up their reputation. Like Royal, its formula has evolved over the years, age statements have come and gone, and several limited editions have been produced. Secondary markets are loaded with such bottles, and compared to prices for other Japanese whiskies, they’re relatively affordable. These days, the company says the key malt of Suntory Special Reserve is Hakushu aged in white oak casks. There’s Yamazaki in there too, of course. 

This early 1980s bottling of Suntory Reserve was released before “Special” was included in the labeling, which was somewhere in the mid-1990s. 

color  Thick and heavy gold, bright and colorful.

nose  Prunes, apricot, more sherry than Royal, orange.

palate  White pepper and orange, bitter chocolate, oak, sugary and balanced.

finish  Medium-length, lasting dried fruits, scant oak bitterness.

ounce cost  $130




The Old Bushmills Distillery Co.
Bushmills, Country Antrim, Northern Ireland

The Old Bushmills distillery in County Antrim, Northern Ireland,
is the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, with a grant to distill dating back to 1608. While the actual license stretches back more than four centuries, the actual distillery – and the company that bears
its name – was not founded until 1784. Then, in 1860, two Belfast spirit merchants bought the premises and began to distill in earnest and,
in 1890, the company-owned SS Bushmills carried the first bottles to the US. Eventually the company joined the Jameson, Powers and Cork Distillers in the Irish Distillers Group.

Throughout its history the company operated through various periods
of closure, while the modern distillery has been in continuous operations since it was rebuilt after a fire in 1885. In 2005, the distillery was purchased by Diageo for £200 million. It was subsequently announced, in 2014,
that Diageo traded the Bushmills brand with Tequila Cuervo La Rojeña, the parent company of Jose Cuervo, for a 50% stake in the Don Julio brand.

This 1960s bottling was imported by the Jos Garneau Co., New York, which was at one point a division of the Brown-Forman corporation.

color Thin, pale hay, slight winter haze.
nose Light and fruity spice, vanilla, toasted oat, mild caramel, crème brulee. palate Warm and gentle mouthfeel, honeycomb, bubblegum, tart apple. finish Lean, crisp and fresh, slight spice.
ounce cost $65



Irish Distillers
Old Midleton Distillery, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland

Not much is known about the Dunphy’s brand other than its existence as an arm of the Midleton Distillery, producers of the world’s most popular Irish whiskey, Jameson. Dunphy’s was created for the American Market initially as
a bargain-priced product used for Irish Coffee and other drinks. The company then became very popular in its homeland and rivaled brands like Jameson, Powers, and Bushmills. Around the middle-1960s there was a new extension of the brand created, also strictly for export: Dunphy’s 7-Year. This only lasted for a short while as distribution in the United States fully ceased in the 1980s.

This 1967 bottling is an incredibly rare item and most likely one of the few that still exist. Dunphy’s can be found in Ireland to this day but is still difficult to locate.

color Bright amber, soft hues of straw and gold.
nose Creamy vanilla, chocolate cookies, clean and vegetal.
palate Rich and spicy, low viscosity.
finish Warm Christmas baking spice, balanced and efficient finish. ounce cost $140

750ML, 40%ABV, 80PF


Irish Distillers
Old Midleton Distillery, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland

In 1791 James Power, an innkeeper from Dublin, established a small distillery at his public house at 109 Thomas St., Dublin. The distillery, which had an output of about 6,000 gallons in its first year of operation, initially traded as James Power and Son, but by 1822 had become John Power & Son, and had moved to a new premises at John’s Lane, a side street off Thomas Street. At the time the distillery had three pot stills, though only one, a 500-gallon still is thought to have been in use.

In 1871, the distillery was expanded and rebuilt in the Victorian style, becoming one of the most impressive sights in Dublin. After expansion, output at the distillery rose to 700,000 gallons per annum, and by the 1880s, had reached about 900,000 gallons per annum, at which point the distillery covered over six acres of central Dublin, and had a staff of about 300 people.

During this period, when the Dublin whiskey distilleries were amongst the largest in the world, the family-run firms of John Powers, along with John Jameson, William Jameson, and George Roe, (collectively known as the “Big Four”) came to dominate the Irish distilling landscape, introducing several innovations. In 1886, John Power & Son began bottling their own whiskey, rather than following the practice customary at the time, of selling whiskey directly to merchants and bonders who would bottle it themselves. They were the first Dublin distillery to do so, and one of the first in the world. A gold label adorned each bottle, and it was from these that the whiskey got the name Powers Gold Label.

In 1966, with the Irish whiskey industry still struggling following Prohibition in the United States, the Anglo-Irish Trade War, and the rise of competition from Scotch whiskey, John Powers & Son joined forces with the only other remaining distillers in the Irish Republic, the Cork Distilleries Company, and their Dublin rivals John Jameson & Son, to form Irish Distillers. Soon after, in a bold move, Irish Distillers decided to close all their existing distilleries, and to consolidate production at a new purpose-built facility in Midleton (the New Midleton Distillery) alongside their existing Old Midleton Distillery. The new distillery opened in 1975, and a year later, production ceased at John’s Lane Distillery and began anew in Cork, with Powers Gold Label and many other Irish whiskeys reformulated from single pot still whiskeys to blends.

This 1980s bottling shows a distribution label of Dillon Wines & Spirits LTD of Belfast, making this a domestic Irish bottling that made its way to the US via transport, not export.

color Warm gold, clear and velvety.
nose Rich cinnamon, white pepper, honey, toasted oak, orange zest.
palate Brown sugar, slight nutmeg boldness, vanilla, dried oak, orchard fruits. finish Long, oily, spice fades into barley and toasted wood.
ounce cost $60

4/5QT, 43%ABV, 86PF


Irish Distillers (On behalf of Sazerac)
Old Midleton Distillery, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland

The Cork Distilleries Company was founded in 1867, and by 1868 had five distilleries under its control. In 1882 the company hired Paddy Flaherty as a salesman. He was so successful with his techniques (which included buying rounds of drinks for patrons) that when publicans ran low, they would write the distillery to reorder cases of “Paddy Flaherty’s whiskey”. In 1912, with his name becoming synonymous with the success of their spirit, the distillery officially renamed the whiskey in his honor: Paddy Irish Whiskey.

In the 1920s and 1930s in Ireland, whiskey was sold in casks from the distillery to wholesalers, who would then sell it to publicans. To prevent dilution in these casks by middlemen and fluctuations in quality, Paddy began to bottle their whiskey themselves, becoming one of the first to do so. Paddy was part of the sale to Pernod Ricard in 1988 and was ultimately purchased by the American company Sazerac in 2016.

This stunning 1950s bottling was produced when Paddy still had an age statement (10 years old) and before Irish Distillers began using an ‘e’ in ‘whiskey’ for the brand.

color Deep golden amber, rich hues of brown and bronze.
nose Oily, fresh floral notes, cereal grain, dried fruits.
palate Medium-bodied richness, slight butterscotch/vanilla, faint rosewater. finish Dry spice, black pepper, scant toasted oak, mild tannins.
ounce cost $70


700ML 40%ABV, 86PF


Corporación Cuba Ron Cardenas, Cuba

The Arechabala family founded a distillery in Cardenas, Cuba in 1878.
Later renamed José Arechabala S.A., the company created the Havana Club brand in 1934, and sold rum under that name in both Cuba and the United States. The company was nationalized without compensation by the Castro government in 1960. The Arechabala family allege it was taken from them at gunpoint. Subsequently, much of the Arechabala family was forced to leave Cuba for Spain and the United States, while other members of the family were imprisoned.

The Cuban government sold rum abroad under the Havana Club name beginning in 1972, focusing primarily on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The government focused on Havana Club because (unlike the Bacardi family) the Arechabala family had not established plants outside of Cuba and so could not produce a competing brand. The company

was considered a “national jewel” by the Cuban government, and in 1977 manufacturing was moved to a new plant in Santa Cruz del Norte.

Since 1994, Cuban production and non-US global marketing of Havana Club has continued under a joint partnership between Pernod Ricard
and Corporación Cuba Ron. In 1994, Bacardi began producing rum under the Havana Club name in Cataño, Puerto Rico using a recipe given to them by Arechabala family members. While originally sold in only a few US states (primarily Florida), production was expanded in 2006, and in 2012, after winning a critical court battle, Bacardi announced plans to sell the rum more broadly.

color Golden amber, almost oily viscosity.
nose Oak, tobacco, cinnamon, rich caramel.
palate Very similar to the nose, dialed back sweetness, warm spices. finish Peppery heat, mild smoke, rich and clean.
ounce cost $30




Distilleria Sauza Tequila, Jalisco, MX

Sauza takes its name from Don Cenobio Sauza, the tequila pioneer who founded the brand in 1873, on the same site of the present day Sauza distillery. He was the first distiller to label his agave spirit ‘tequila’ – after the town in which he lived and worked, and the first producer to export the newly-named category to the US. Don Cenobio is also credited with technical innovations such as heating stills using steam coils.

In a time when agave spirits were not widely appreciated worldwide, this 1960s bottling was imported to Italy by Sposetti, Genoa. Incredibly rare considering its condition, it was produced before ‘puro agave’ was what it is today.

color Especially clear, almost platinum.
nose Hints of pepper, slight aroma of vegetal sweetness.
palate Spice and pepper, mildly discernable agave notes, pleasant depth. finish Hot but brief.
ounce cost $45

1L, 46%ABV, 92PF


Grupo Industrial Herradura & Brown-Forman Corporation Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico

The first known owner of the tequila producing property was Feliciano Romo in the early 19th century. The official history of Herradura begin with Félix López, who began as the distillery administrator under then owners Josefa Salazar and her sons. In 1870, López took over the distillery and agave fields and registered it as a tequila producer under the name of Hacienda San José del Refugio.

Félix López married Carmen Rosales and they had two children, Aurelio
and María de Jesús. The couple modernized the production of tequila at the hacienda, building a facility that remained in use until 1963. López died in 1878 and Rosales took over the business along with her brother Ambrosio Rosales and his wife Elisa Gomez Cuervo. Later, the business was inherited by Aurelio López.

The name Herradura, which means horseshoe in Spanish, is a said to have come from the finding of a horseshoe on the hacienda property. In the 1920s the Cristero War broke out, with both Aurelio and his sister María de Jesus as sympathizers. At one point government troops surrounded the hacienda but the siblings were able to escape. However, Aurelio never returned to the hacienda again.

The hacienda passed into the hand of Aurelio’s cousin David Rosales, who kept the tequila 100% agave despite the trend towards blending to cut costs. María de Jesús was able to return to Herradura and distinguished herself with charitable works to the town of Amatitán, including the building of wells in an area with little water.

In the 1990s, there was conflict over sales of shares in the company by some members of the family as well as agave growing land. Part of the legal problems stemmed from the sale of shares to non-Mexican entities. In 2004, Herradura bought back foreign owned shares, making the company 100% Mexican owned again. At this time, the company controlled thirty percent of the Mexican tequila markets behind Jose Cuervo’s forty percent share.

However, in 2007 all assets of the company were sold for $USD 776 million to the US-based company Brown-Forman. That same year Herradura was named “best distillery of 2007” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

This 1986 bottling was produced at NOM-1119, still to this day one of the few plants that produces for one sole brand. Most tequila houses will produce distillate for multiple brands and companies.

color Crystal-clear, medium viscosity.
nose Clean agave, papaya, guava, pineapple, apricot, slight medicinal top note.

palate Round and sweet up front, typical highland ‘burn’, grassy, vegetal; white pepper, stone fruit on the back.

finish Medium and brisk, menthol, white pepper, tropical fruit. ounce cost $180




Nisskosher Wytwórnia Wódek Gatunkowych Bielsko-Biala, Poland

This zubrowka vodka is flavored with Hierochloe Odorata grass, better known as ‘bison grass’ due to its growing in the Biełowieża Forest in Biełowieża National Park on the border between Poland and Belarus. This is an area where Europe’s last wild bison are known to graze. The original recipes originated from areas where the art of composing diverse liqueurs in homes of Polish noblemen was intertwined with the skills of Jewish distillers who immigrated to Poland from many parts of Europe.

This is a 1990 bottling of the UK export. Nisskosher no longer makes the product under the Grasovka label as it was discontinued in 2013.

color Clear, very faint green tinge.
nose Aromatic yet delicate, grassy with pear skin,

soapy shortbread, scant pistachio nuttiness.

palate Grassy and herbal, mild sweetness, light peppery bite, jasmine and peppermint tea.

finish Light white pepper spice. ounce cost $45