Dating a bottle

More about bottle and age

We will try to give you a insight in the age of old bottles this document will be far from finished and will be adjusted and corrected constantly. We would love to get updates and comment on every aspect of the age of the subjects.

Thank you very much,


The first product with the barcode, a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum, was scanned on June 26, 1974 at the cash register of the Marsh Supermarket in Try, Ohio. This 10-pack was bought by Clyde Dawson. Sharon Buchanan was the cashier. The gum was priced at 67 cents.

For comparison: In the Netherlands the first barcode was scanned at the Albert Heijn supermarket in Heemskerk in January 1977, almost three years later.

So always check out the origin of the bottle and the country of sale and check the scan history of those (that) countries.

Tax seals

The Italian government has (as in many other countries) different seals in different periods. So if you have a bottle from Italy, the seal gives you an indication of the age of the bottle. Do not be too sure, because sometimes an old seal was used (because they were still in stock or worse: fraud) over year(s). So you have to check the bottle and labels as well.

At this page you can find more info on seals and period from Italy.

USA regulations

Federal Law
If you see the text “Federal Law Forbids Sale or re-use of this bottle” casted into the bottle, you know that it is a bottle from before 1962 (maybe 1964).

This law was introduced after the prohibition in 1933 and was abolished in August 1962. Maybe some old bottles has to be sold later on, because you do not throw old stock away.

4/5 quart
Another aspect is that after January 1961 the text “4/5 quart” was no longer printed on the tax stamp (strip).

Government warning
Look on the label for a government warning. If you cannot find one, your bottle was distilled before 1989, which was the year when the U.S. Surgeon General’s warning became mandatory.


Bottle change throughout the years. Sometime a small subtle change and sometime a more dramatic one. In advertising always the bottles from that time are used so looking at old advertisement can help you a lot. Do you see your bottle on an advert? Try to see what period the advert is from and you know the age of your bottle.

1912 Johnnie Walker advert

1935 Johnnie Walker advert

1956 Johnnie Walker advert

1970 Johnnie Walker advert