There are as many styles of antique liquor and spirits bottles as there are the types of liquor to go in them. Regardless of their shape and size, though, the most collectible bottles are those produced prior to 1919, the year Prohibition began. Figural, barrel-shape, and engraved bottles are just a few examples of the types of liquor bottles from this era.

In fact, one of the first uses of bottles was for liquor, as well as wine. Early bottles, such as those from the 16th and 17th centuries, were made exclusively for storage, not to drink out of. The one-gallon or larger demijohn bottles are good examples of this.

Many liquor and spirits bottle collectors tend to focus on a specific type of liquor, bottle shape, or brand. Brandy, vodka, rum, and schnapps all tended to have relatively uniform bottle shapes, while whiskey and gin came in a wide array of bottles, making them somewhat more collectible than the other liquors because there are so many more variations to collect. In some cases, such as the Jim Beam figural bottles, collecting categories are combined.

Gin was first brewed in the mid-17th century in the Netherlands. Since its invention, gin has been associated with case bottles, which are tall, square-based bottles with short fat necks. In the 18th century, the bases of gin bottles tended to become narrower, though it is extremely difficult to differentiate between eras of gin bottles or their countries of origin by their shapes alone. Early gin bottles almost never had seals and were usually olive or amber colored. More rare are clear gin case bottles.

Whiskey bottles have even more differentiation than gin bottles. Though whiskey’s roots are in Scotland (hence, scotch), it is difficult to come by early scotch bottles, because the drink was not bottled until 1846.

The first bottled scotch was put out by John Dewar as a blend called “White Label.” His first bottles, however, were fashioned from stoneware. Canadian whiskey first appeared in bottles in 1853—prior to the proliferation of bottles, whiskey could often be found in pocket flasks.

Another collectible liquor bottle shape is the cylinder. These squat bottles, like the English “Onion” bottle, date to the 17th century. Roundish in shape, the bottles varied in ...

Other collectible liquor bottle shapes include Benedictine bottles (a French liqueur introduced in the 1870s), which have long necks and trapezoidal-like bases. Handled liquor bottles, as the name suggests, have handles, but the shapes the handles attach to can vary widely.

For collectors, liquor bottles are relatively easy to identify. Prohibition came about just as machine-made bottles were being introduced, so if your bottle is machine made, it is probably from after Prohibition. Conversely, if it is hand-blown it likely predates 1919. Additionally, after Prohibition, the U.S. government instituted a rule that companies must emboss the message, “FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR RE-USE OF THIS BOTTLE” on every bottle. That decree lasted until 1964, a fact that can help date bottles.

Liquor bottles can also be dated by the presence of a pontil mark at the base, as well as the type of lip. Some bottles feature a batch number or bottle date, while others bear labels with humorous and historic brand logos and mascots.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Pre-pro.com

Pre-pro.com

Pre-Pro.com tells the story of America’s thriving liquor industry in the era before the enactment of Prohibition … [read review or visit site]

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Bill Lindsey's fantastic bottle identification and information site. Loaded with detailed descriptions and diagrams… [read review or visit site]

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

There's a ton of information here, but as with bottles, you have to dig to find the best stuff. Start with the famo… [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

Old Spice Collectibles

Old Spice Collectibles

Lather up with Creighton Fricek's complete chronology of collectible Old Spice shaving products. Start with the bot… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Color!! Deep Ox Blood Red/black Glass Un-embossed Bitters Or Whiskey SquareLouis Xiii Remy Martin Cognac Baccarat Crystal DecanterAntique Embossed Whiskey Bottle Old Judge Newmark, Gruenberg & Co....s.f. EmptyExceptional Gx-3 1/2pt. Sheaf Of Rye/cluster Of Grapes Historical Flask Gem MintAntique Treadwell Whiskey Bottle San Francisco Cal Western PcgwVery Scarce American Square J.&r. Dunster London Probably Lyndeborough, NhGlob Top, Jh Cutter Old Bourbon, Ok WhiskeyRare Antique Hand Blown Gin Bottle With Great Dark Color- Open PontilFox Saloon Birmingham Alabama Whiskey Flask 1890sShaker Brand Ketchup Portland Me Maine Pettengill Ex Rare Stoneware Jug Cobalt Fleckenstein & Mayer Knife Edge Whiskey Flask, Double Role Glop Top.5 Empty Crystal Head Vodka BottlesAntique Vintage Demijohn Wicker Woven Cover With Brown BottleButte Montana Dark Green Liquor Bottle With Embossed Circle Hand BlownJohnnie Walker Blue Label King George V Edition Scotch Whisky Empty BottleAmber Ladie's Leg Whiskey Bottle "w.mc C & Co" 12.5" TallButte Montana Liquor Co. Amber Bottle With Embossed Circle Hand BlownWestern Sierra Bottling Co Weiland's Best Jamestown Cal Whiskey Bottle Amber #51) Black Glass Gin Bottle From Mid-ky Pre-1900 Marbled SurfaceCollection Of 4 Antique Embossed 19th Century Dark Green Dutch Gin Bottles Ca.18oo 'bartholomay Brewery" Blob Miss-print, Ex.example!! Antique Chestnut Demijohn Bottle Flask Hand Blown Glass Pontil Olive Amber Boston, Mass. Stoneware Whiskey Jug Charles S. Gove Wholesale Liquor DealersAntique Pre-prohibition Kentucky Reserve Bourbon Bar Back Bottle Enamel W/shotR.f. Rf Rakes Moonshine Whiskey One Gallon Jug Very Rare Purple TintLouis Xiii De Remy Martin Grande Champagne Cognac Baccarat Crystal Decanter John Calipari Makers Mark Sealed Empty Bottle Kentucky Wildcats Signed Auto KyLouis Xiii Baccarat Crystal Remy Martin Cognac Decanter Made In France 750mlCalifornia Wine House Minneapolis Mn, 1/2 Gallon JugCrystal Head Vodka Bottle-1.75l (empty-with Original Box)Antique Whiskey Bottle Frankfort Distillery Schultz Pharmacy Tremont Pa MedicineOld Bushmills Embossed Whiskey Liquor Bottle Flask One Pint3) 1910-15 Anderson Newport Ky. Cincinnati Ohio Cylinder Saloon Whiskey BottleRare Old Hatchwood Whiskey Back Bar Pre Prohibition Advertising Pinch BottleVintage Hiram Walker's Canadian Club Whisky One Pint Amber Brown Bottle 1940s Whiskey Pitcher Old Adam Special Scotch Enameled Ancient As The HillsPerfect Grannie Taylor's Liqueur Whisky Cobalt Stencil Advertising Stoneware JugGrey Goose Empty Dummy Display Vodka Bottle 4.5lVintage E.c. Booz's Old Cabin Whiskey Bottle Stamped 1840 Philadelphia1915 Antique Spiritus Frumenti Spider Web Frankfort Medicinal Whiskey BottleAntique Rare Rye Whiskey Bottle W/ Glass Stopper Great Label Fleischman And Co.3 Cabo Wabo Tequilla Blue Bottle S 750ml EmptyVtg Hennessy Cognac Miniature Whiskey Bottle 1/10 Pint Mini Small LiquorVintage Liquor Bottle Dancing Couple Musical Decanter Music Box Empty Works4 1/2" Minature Hayner Distilling Co. Dayton, Ohio. Fluted,tooledtop, Mug BaseAntique M. Salzman Co. Bottle With Twisted Ladies Leg NeckOriginal Empty Hand Blown Green Rim 750ml Porfidio Tequila Bottle And Case!Antique/vtg Primitive Salt Glazed Stoneware Crock Bottle Beer? W Hallmark StampVintage 1930s-50s,old Taylor Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle, Half PintRare Collectible Tequila Bottle *empty* Elephant Chapala Amber Quart Whiskey Bottle - Made 1933 Bottled 1937 Old Overholt Broad Ford Pa.Crystal Head Vodka Bottle Empty 750mlVintage Maywood Brand Straight Rye Whiskey Bottle-kinsey's,pa Rye-niceVintage Collectible Rum Decanter Drummer 10Light Purple Tinted Antique 1890's Whiskey Bottle W/ Bubbles & Part Of Label!!Old Carbine Tequila Gun Bottle W/ GlassesAalborg Akvavit Liquoir Bottle (empty)"old Quaker" Rye Whiskey Glass Bottle Labels Miniature 1/10 Pint Lawrenceburg InAbsolut Vodka Limited Edition Bottle Texas With Tag Empty Cruz Ortiz1000ml Crystal Head Skull Wine Vodka Whiskey Glass Bottle Jar Decanter Party