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Sometimes you’ll find two different 2-digit dates in the same bottle.Generally the earlier date refers to the year the bottle mold was created, and the latter is the year the bottle was made.' Often beginners have a difficult time distinguishing between old and new bottles especially when is comes to modern reproductions.One can find quite a bit of information on my web site and across the Internet about dating bottles based on whether the mold seam goes up and over the lip or if the bottle has a 'pontil' on the base.Most bourbons and ryes had a tax strip seal over the cap up through 1985.After that, several brands continued with a “faux” tax strip, which looked similar to a tax strip but wasn’t an official government item.– Prior to 1973, green bonded strips denoted the size of the bottle, for example 4/5 qt, on one end of the strip. Below is an example of a 1945-1960 style strip (click to enlarge).
However, some producers continued to use bottle molds with the warning for a few years after; bottles that display the warning have been seen up to 1970.UPC codes started to be used in the late 70s/early 80s, which can give you a general idea of era.Also, you can sometimes glean some info from the prefix on UPC codes as to what company bottled/sold the whiskey: 80244 – Buffalo Trace 80432 – Wild Turkey 80660 – Barton Brands 80686 – Jim Beam (newer OGD) 81128 – Brown-Forman 83924 – Heaven Hill 85676 – Medley 86259 – National Distillers (older OGD and OT) 88004 – Buffalo Trace 88076 – Heaven Hill, formerly used by United Distillers and Schenley 88508 – Stitzel Weller (although some Old Fitz bottled by HH has been seen with this UPC also) 89319 – Old Rip Van Winkle 96749 – Heaven Hill Prior to August 1959 the bonded statement read: “This bottle has been filled and stamped under the provisions of sections 50 Internal Revenue Code.” In August of 1959 the statement was changed to: “This bottle has been filled and stamped under the provisions of sections 52 Internal Revenue Code.” Until 1958, the maximum age federal law permitted for bottled in bond bourbon was 8 years, so even if a bottle was 100 proof and met all the other criteria for bonding, it wouldn’t be considered bottled in bond if it was aged longer than 8 years.You’ll often find it in the lower right portion when looking at the bottom (some dates are much easier to distinguish than others).This will usually tell you–within a year or two–when the whiskey was bottled.