Early Times Bottled in Bond

Early Times Bottled in Bond Review

Meet Luke

Luke is a Level I Certified Whiskey Specialist with a passion for exploring and unearthing the best whiskeys around. Luke has a preference for Rye whiskeys but has tasted over 250 different whiskeys to date varying from bourbons to scotches. He continues to expand upon his whiskey knowledge by tasting dozens of bottles monthly and reviewing them here on Barrel and Brew as he pursues his Masters of Whiskey certification.

My first review of 2024 is a brand that I’m very familiar with – I know the name, I see it all the time, I know people tend to say good things about it – yet I’ve never actually had it before. Today we’re talking Early Times Bottled in Bond, or BiB.

Now, I’ll discuss all there is to know about Bottled in Bond whiskey, but first we’re covering Early Times. I’ll go over a basic overview and the tasting notes to discover if Early Times BiB is as good as people say. Then, we’ll get into the specifics of BiB Whiskey for those that are interested in learning more.

Early Times Bottled in Bond Review


  • Spirit: Straight Bourbon, Bottled in Bond
  • Owned By: Early times Distilling Company by way of Sazerac Company
  • Distilled By: Brown Forman
  • Aged: 4+ years
  • ABV: 50%, 100 proof
  • Mashbill: 79% corn, 11% rye, 10% malted barley
  • Price: $25-30 for 1L, not available in 750ml


Early Times has been in the hands of numerous big names and companies over the years. It started with Jack Beam, Jim Beam’s nephew. Jack built his own distillery, separate from Beam, and began distilling Early Times in the late 1800’s. After his passing in 1915, Brown-Forman purchased the Early Times brand and barrels.

It wasn’t until 1945, though, that Early Times Bottled in Bond was released, and it quickly became one of the most popular whiskeys in the US. Production stopped in the 80’s and the brand was no longer produced. In 2017, Brown-Forman brought back the Early Times brand which was purchased in 2022/2023 by Sazerac.

The name Early Times is in reference to the ways whiskey was made in the ‘early times’, over an open flame. Though now, it would be more accurate to call this bourbon Modern Times.

Note: The Brown-Forman Distillery was built in 1955 and was originally named the Early Times Distillery.

Early Times BiB Tasting Notes

Okay, we’ve covered a bit of the history behind Early Times Bottled in Bond. Now, let’s get to the important part. What does it taste like? Is it good?

Nose: It’s got that quintessential bourbon nose that I’m a big fan of. Lots of vanilla, charred oak, toasted brown sugar with a touch of lemon and cherry. Some cinnamon adds a bit of spice.

Palate: The nose transfers over pretty well, but I definitely get more cinnamon spice throughout the palate than the nose. Vanilla, oak, and cinnamon are dominant, but the brown sugar and fruits sit lightly in the background. A solid mouthfeel, and a decent amount of spice while not hot or fiery.

Finish: Cinnamon and oak are all throughout the palate and finish with some pepper joining in now. The oak and spice leaves a tobacco flavor sitting around for a medium-long finish.

Early Times BiB Tasting Notes

Taste Summary – Is Early Times BiB Good?

Early Times Bottled in Bond had more spice than I expected, but it did so without any harshness. Partly because it’s not over-spiced, there’s simply spice throughout the palate and finish. Sweet vanilla coats your mouth, and charred oak shows the impact of a bourbon cask. I would’ve enjoyed a little more of the fruit and brown sugar on the palate, but that’s a personal preference.

All in all, Early Times BiB is a very good sipping bourbon. Add in the fact that a 1L bottle is under $30, and this makes a strong case to be everyone’s, or anyone’s, everyday kinda whiskey.

Value, Value, Value

I said that this is an everyday sipper. Now, everyone has a different price range, but if I’m drinking whiskey everyday or multiple times a week, or I’m making a drink for company, casual drinking, etc, I cant afford to pour $100 or even $50 whiskey every time. You need that $20-30 bottle of whiskey on your shelf that is your go to whiskey.

Early Times Bottled in Bond is a strong contender to be that whiskey. It’s in that same category, in my mind, as Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, Old Grand Dad BiB or OGD 114.

It’s important to keep in mind that ET BiB comes in a 1L bottle, so the $30 price tag is even more attractive.

I like Early Times Bottled in Bond, what else should I try?

If you’ve already had ET BiB and like it, if it’s not available in your state, or if you want something different, or maybe something “better”, below are some other options that I’d recommend.

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OGD BiB, OGD 114, Evan Williams BiB

As I mentioned just above, these are the comps I have for ET. They are widely available, they are in a similar price range. All three of these options are, in my mind, very similar when it comes to a value play. You may prefer one to the other, but they are neck and neck.

Balcones Pot Still Bourbon

I just recently reviewed Balcones Pot Still Bourbon for a second time, and I LOVED it. It’s a very different whiskey from ET, EW, and OGD, but it’s ~$30 and delicious.

If you’re looking for a similarly priced bourbon that’s a little unique, from a smaller name, and something new to try, I highly recommend Balcones.

Balcones Pot Still Bourbon

Balcones Pot Still Bourbon

Posted on
Almost two years ago I reviewed the Balcones lineup, and I recall thinking it was unique but average. Honestly, though, I’m not sure I really knew what I was talking about, for I was just beginning my whiskey journey. Fast forward to now and I have my level I whiskey certification and…

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

You like ET BiB, or you don’t mind spending a bit extra, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked has all of the Early Times Bottled in Bond notes of charred oak, vanilla, and spice, but it has all of the sugary, candy sweetness with it.

Both ET and Woodford hail from Brown-Forman, so it’s no surprise they have similarities. For $50-60, you can upgrade to Woodford Double Oaked which brings in bubblegum and burnt maple sugar.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

Posted on
Double Oaked Bourbon is very hit and miss here at Barrel & Brew. We’ve had one that we loved (Sagamore Spirits Double Oaked), one or two that we thought were solid, and a couple we didn’t like at all. We’ve always appreciated Woodford, so we figured we’d put Double Oaked bourbons to…

What Does Bottled in Bond Mean?

If you’ve reached this point, thank you for reading along. I’ve covered my review of Early times Bottled in Bond, so now I’m going to discuss what it means to be Bottled in Bond. If you don’t care, or already know all about it, feel free to move on. If you want to learn more about what you’re drinking, just keep on reading.

Bottled in Bond began in 1897 with the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897.

In the 1800’s, every Tom, Dick, and Harry could, and did, distill spirits. Yeah, there were still some regulations in place and legal requirements, but you didn’t always know what you were drinking.

The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was put in place so that distillers could mark their whiskey as Bottled in Bond, which ensured you were drinking a quality spirit.

The act basically stated that in order to label your whiskey as Bottled in Bond it had to follow a couple regulations. They were:

  • Distilled at a single distillery
  • Overseen by a single distiller
  • Distilled in a single season
  • aged a minimum of 4 years in a federally bonded warehouse
  • bottled at exactly 100 proof

If a bourbon, or any American whiskey, follows these protocols, it can be labelled as Bottled in Bond.

Even in a day where whiskey is heavily regulation, Bottled in Bond can add an assurance to what you’re drinking, and they often come in at a very appealing price point.


Whiskey is a very subjective thing. Is X good? Is A better than B? Then, how do you compare a $25 bottle to a $100 bottle?

Being a good whiskey, to me, is about playing a role well. I don’t want a great cocktail whiskey for $100. A $25 bottle doesn’t need a whole bunch of depth.

Early Times Bottled in Bond does a great job in the role it plays. It’s about as high quality of a whiskey you can get for the price point. Is it the best? No. Is it complex? No. There are 20 whiskeys I can name that I think are better – not many of them are $30 for a 1L bottle.

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