Old Crow Bottled in Bond Review – circa 1980

Old Crow Bottled In Bond ReviewThis bottle of Old Crow Bottled In Bond is the National Distillers stuff. Jim Beam bought these guys in 1987 and almost immediately shut down the distillery. This was a bad idea and for my tastes the brand has never recovered. If you want to see exactly what I mean by that check out my review of the modern Old Crow.

For those of you who might not know, even if it is not a bottled-in-bond bottle, you can identify these ND bottles by the UPCs. The first five numbers on a National Distillers UPC is 86259 whereas the first five numbers on a Jim Beam UPC is 80686. If there is no UPC then it’s likely from the 70’s and pre-dates ND’s demise by a good decade or so.

While we’re on the subject if you’re looking for more info on dating a bottle of whiskey check out WhiskeyID. It’s a good site to find out more about this type of thing.

Old Crow Bottled in Bond Review – circa 1980

Distiller: W.A. Gaines “A division of the Old Crow Distillery Company” Frankfort Kentucky.
Age: At least 4 years
ABV: 50%
Price: N/A (dusty)

DSP KY 25 bottled at DSP KY 14

Yep, you guessed it, bourbon brown

This is what I am talking about. It has a touch of old bottle effect, but in general it’s really nice. Notes of allspice and chamomile tea. Soft oak and wet dog waltz around a rose petal base. After about a minute a bit of a chemical quality checks in.

Spicy soft oak and some corn. That bit of plastic is really showing up here. I find myself liking it less and less.

More oak and plastic.

OK, here’s the deal. This whiskey needs a bit of time. For some reason older bottles of Old Crow, with the white plastic cap, can make the bourbon come across a bit chemically. This is even after the bottle has been opened and half emptied. The trick is to get the bourbon out of the bottle and let it sit in the glass before getting into it and often the plasticness will blow off. Though be sure to cover with a paper towel so no bugs try to commit suicide in the delicious bourbon.

After 30 mins in the glass.
Much better. The original nose comes over to the palate and then it gets buttery. The finish is old oak, touch of wood glue, corn syrup and butter as well.

Bottles like this circa 1980 Old Crow Bottled in Bond are always a crapshoot. Sometimes old bottles are great and other times they are completely ruined by the plastic cap. I’m happy this one came through, but I would never pay a whole lot for a bottle of this for that very reason. Keep that mind when you’re out dusty hunting.

SCORE: 86/100

Chris Uhde

Chris Uhde

I've been in the spirits business in one capacity or another for over 14 years. I cut my teeth as a bartender in an Athens, GA dive bar and In 2007, I started working for JVS Wines in California. I now manage Southern California for JVS and the West Coast for Impex Beverages. I'm also the whisky expert for the Daily Pint in Santa Monica and the United Scottish Society in Southern California. I'm here because, really, I love all types of whisk(e)y and other spirits too.
Chris Uhde

2 Responses to Old Crow Bottled in Bond Review – circa 1980

  1. howdy.

    in your rating system “86”= great whiskey.

    which part of “wood glue” makes a whiskey great? and “wet dog?” that qualifies a whiskey as “great,” too?

    if i were a distiller and making new bourbons to compete in this market, i’d be appalled if my stuff tasted like “old garbage” or “barnyard dirt” or “old restaurant swill.”

    personally, i quit drinking JD specifically when i finally identified the off note i’d noticed for years as “glue.” when i finally figured it out, thanks to ralfy, i was completely done with jd. why would i purchase something that i know has glue notes in it?

    help me out on this. to me, glue notes makes a whiskey a failure. just as “garbage can,” “pile of dog,” and “frozen two-year old asparagus” notes will do the same. yet whiskey reviewers, otherwise spot on, will give these fails a “great whiskey” review. i simply do not get it.

    if something has a bad note, isn’t that a mark against it? isn’t a glue note a serious negative? this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the wine world. if there are off notes, the wine is marked down. i don’t recall seeing any wines rated as “great” that have “back alley after hours” notes in the bouquet.


    • Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll do my best to clear some of this up. For me, one of the greatest things about whisky is that it’s personal to everyone who drinks it. I don’t find anything offensive about “wet dog” or “wood glue” or even “Barnyard dirt” as long as it is kept in check. My goal was to express that this bourbon was not a one trick pony.

      The more time I spent with it, the more interesting and different aromas appeared. Neither one dominated the other, but instead they operated together as a symphony. Some of the most legendary scotch whiskies have notes of Elmer’s paste and temper paint. It’s like listening to a clarinet in an orchestra. I probably wouldn’t want to listen to one playing solo for too long, but in conjunction with the other instruments it can be a beautiful thing. Though I do have to agree with you about “old restaurant swill”. That one doesn’t sound appealing.

      Whisky is distilled below 160 proof (many much lower) so those original flavors of the grain continue through to the final product. Whisky distillers are not making vodka or grain neutral spirit and so by definition of process earthy notes will sometimes show up in the final product. These earthy/ organic notes are not just limited to whisky. You might have seen wines rated “great” where the critic referred to animal aromas. For example, “lots of Gooseberry” is a term used frequently for Sauvignon Blanc. Gooseberry is the industry term “for smells like cat piss.”

      Anyway, I hope this helps explain why I might pick up notes like wet dog but will still rate a whisky as great.

      All the best!


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