Strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as a "whiskey" bottle in Scotland. There you will find only "whisky" bottles, hopefully filled with a single-malt Scotch by Speyside distillers such as Macallan, Balvenie, or Glenfiddich. For some, collecting such rare whisky bottles is its own reward; for others, the virtues of these bottles are best appreciated by savoring their contents.

In Ireland and the United States, the word "whiskey" generally gets an “e,” while in the U.S. the term itself most commonly refers to Bourbon and rye. Bourbon is made from about 70% corn and is aged in oak barrels. Most of the biggest distillers, from Jim Beam to Maker’s Mark, are in Kentucky. Tennessee is also a center for whiskey, although its best-selling export is not labeled as Bourbon; Jack Daniel’s makes Tennessee whiskey.

As for the bottles themselves, some of the earliest ones produced in the U.S. date from the beginning of the 19th century and have squat, cylindrical shapes. Less symmetrical were the so-called chestnut flasks, whose bulbous bodies tapered abruptly to a slender neck.

Numerous other types of spirits bottles were produced throughout the 19th century and into the 20th (Jack Daniel’s went to its famous square bottle in 1895), but serious bottle collectors look for the figured flasks made from about 1815 until 1870. These flat-sided bottles, which were often pear-shaped or oval, featured relief portraits of U.S. presidents and patriotic symbols such as eagles on their sides.

Other celebrities immortalized on antique whiskey bottles included the French General Lafayette (a hero of the revolutionary War), Jenny Lind (a famous singer of the day, who was known as the Swedish Nightingale), and DeWitt Clinton (as governor of New York, he presided over the construction of the Erie Canal).


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