The Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 was, according to historian Lew Bryson, an attempt to certify whiskeys of integrity in an era when “rectifiers” were blending additives from neutral grain spirit to creosote to wintergreen into booze. The act required such whiskeys to be at least four years old, bottled at 100 proof, have no additives other than water, and also be the product of one distillery.
These days, we’re in a golden age of new craft whiskeys, though some might argue looks can be as deceiving as ever as young distilleries try to get their brown spirits to market as fast as their caramel-giving little oak barrels will give them color. A year of oak and an amber hue, though, doesn’t necessarily make it good. That’s why Dad’s Hat rightfully takes special pride in its new Bottled in Bond Pennsylvania straight rye, because it’s proof that this already celebrated Bristol distillery has matured with both power and finesse. This four-year-old straight rye, blended from whiskeys distilled in the same year, is a true Dad’s Hat nuanced take on the “Pennsylvania Monongahela” school of distilling (all spicy rye, rye malt, and barley, with no sweet corn added). But it’s deeper, more intense and layered than Dad’s excellent 90-proof flagship. Aside from the usual mint and grainy spice, I get dark-chocolate notes and a citrusy tang of Valencia oranges and vanilla that comes forward on the back end once a splash of water mutes some of that 100-proof heat. Though not too much H₂O! This is whiskey of integrity that should be tasted in its full, bond-certified glory.
— Craig LaBan
Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey, Bottled in Bond 100 Proof, $69.99 (PLCB Item # 75324), available online at finewineandgoodspirits.com and in select Premium Collection stores in Pennsylvania.