Mammoth Cave 1900 Bottled in Bond Kentucky Bourbon / Pre-Prohibition
Mammoth Cave is a bourbon brand with a storied history. This was distilled all the way back in 1900 at what was then called the Old Times, registered distillery number 1 in the 5th district of Kentucky. The Old Times distillery, built in 1869 changed hands several times over the years, and was eventually sold off two years after this was distilled, and renamed Willow Creek. A new Old Times was built across the street, and by 1901 had been renamed Number One distillery. This was bottled in bond there in 1918. The distillery was one of the hundreds that did not survive the Prohibition era, when the production and sale of alcohol was made illegal in the US, and closed its doors for good in 1920.
This is a Bottled in Bond whiskey, which means that by law the whiskey had to be the product of a single distilling season, the date of distillation and bottling must be displayed, as must the distillery in which both took place. Additionally, all bottles had a required alcoholic strength of 100 US proof. The Bottled in Bond Act was passed three years before this was distilled, in 1897 and the campaign for its ratification was spearheaded by none other than a certain Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. The purpose of the act was to ensure a legal standard of quality, and a definition for what could be described as bourbon whiskey. The Act was fiercely opposed by "Rectifiers," who produced cheap whiskey using grain neutral spirits and flavourings.
One such Rectifier was the W.L Weller and Sons company who, following the success of the Bottled in Bond Act eventually turned to the business of legitimate distilling. They would go on to purchase the Mammoth Cave brand at the onset of Prohibition, and bottled it as a medicinal product (a legal loophole that permitted whiskey sales during Prohibition, by a select few licensees), using whiskey procured from the A.Ph. Stitzel distillery, an important relationship that would lead to the creation of the legendary Stitzel-Weller in 1935.
Most examples of Mammoth Cave still in existence today are from this later W.L Weller period, and this pre-prohibition bottling from the Old Times distillery is an incredible artefact from the history of American whiskey.