How do I date a bottle of spirits?
Got a few old bottles of stuff (Benedictine, Cherry Heering, Tia Maria) from my grandmother's basement that I want to find out what year they are from. They are pre govt warning but can't find anything on the web. Already checked out ebay.cam and cocktaildb.com. I attached a photo if anyone can help....thanks!
First, that bottle is awesome. Contrast it with this old picture from cocktaildb.com:
If you take a nice photograph of the bottle and put it in the public domain, I'm sure there are websites that would love to publish it ;) !
I suspect the value would be as a collector's item. Fruit liqueurs go off pretty quickly, and even though cherry heering already has a oxidized flavor, I would think it would not be very good. Old Cassis, for example, is awful. I don't recall who imports Cheery Heering, but they or the factory might be interested in buying an old bottle for their archives.
There are a few things you can use to date spirit bottles in the US.
No government warning means pre-1989.
I can't tell from the picture if these bottles have tax stamps on them (those paper strips that go over the top of the bottle). Tax stamps were required on all spirits up to 1985. If there isn't one, its most likely a post-85 bottle (unless the stamp was ripped off). Though some spirits kept using them without any identifying information after '85 (and some still do fore aesthetic reasons).
If measurement for the bottle is in non-mentric units only (e.g. quart of fifth instead of ml or liter), then it's probably from the 70s or earlier. If it has both metric and standard measurement it's probably from the late '70s to early '80s. If it has only metric, it's probably no older than about 1980.
Some bottles have two digit numbers on the bottom of the bottle indicating the year the bottle was made. Not all bottles have it and it doesn't always correspond to the year the spirit was bottled, but it can be helpful.
Thanks for the info...what the picture doesn't show:
Benedictine is 23/32 quart, 86 proof, no tax stamp but no cap either
Cherry Heering is 3/4 quart, 49 proof, tax stamp partially still there
Tia Maria is 700 ml (no non-metric), 31.5%, price is $7.25, no tax stamp, unopened
all three have cork tops, no screw caps.
I know some have changed alcohol content, but don't know when.
How do you know all this stuff? Are you a long time rep or is there some kind of reference book out there for this stuff? I have a couple other bottles out there, but weird cheap stuff (Stock brand strawberry liqueur, 1 litre; Hiram Walker Apricot brandy, 3/4 pint; Arrow brand Heublein coffee brandy, 1 quart), but they don't look as cool...
thanks again for the info!