Have you seen those small cylindrical bottles people are using to store samples of bourbon? Ever wondered what they are and where to get them?
Have no fear, ModernThirst is on it.
What are they?
They’re commonly referred to as “Boston Round” bottles. They are heavy glass bottles in varying sizes intended for scientific storage of chemical and biochemical samples (think chemical compounds). They’re usually clear or amber (which filters UV rays), but they also come in blue, for those who need a splash of color in their lives. And they make perfect storage containers for small samples of bourbon and whiskey.
What size bottle should I get?
The most common size used by bourbon folks is the 2 ounce bottle. It allows a nice, full pour of whiskey. While other sizes are available, most often 1 or 4 ounces, a 1 ounce sample usually seems too small to get a real taste and the 4 ounce bottle is more than a single serving, in most cases. So if you get nothing else, get the 2 ounce size. I actually use two sizes. I use 2 ounce bottles for samples I intended to trade, share, or drink right away, and the 4 ounce bottles for long-term storing of special whiskey I intended to keep and try over time for comparison.
Should I get clear, amber, or blue?
If you intend to store them “on display,” get amber. The amber filters UV light from the liquid inside. If you want to be able to see the color of the whiskey, you’ll want clear, but be sure to store them in a cabinet or out of direct sunlight. I have read a few comments claiming the amber bottles can leech iron into the whiskey inside, but I have seen no direct study to prove it. Take that for what it’s worth. I use clear and store them in a dark place.
Do the caps matter?
Yes! They can be ordered with vinyl liners or polycone/polyseal caps. For storing and trading whiskey, make sure they have the polyseal or polycone caps, or they will leak. And if you bought the bottles with the wrong caps (or none at all), don’t panic, the caps can still be bought separately:
Caps for 2 Ounce Boston Round bottles
What about the heat seals?
That’s kind of up to you. I’ve never had the polycone seals leak, but if you are sending them to a friend, or want to store them long term, you can certainly buy the heat seals that go over the cap and can be heat-shrunk to further seal the bottle using a heat gun/hair dryer. I call them an unnecessary luxury, but you may disagree.
What about Wax?
Yup. I like using wax to seal the bottles for long-term storage. See my post about it here:
What about labels?
The most common use is standard mailing labels. It’s easy to write any information you need on them with a permanent marker or sharpie. Get the permanent or non-reusable ones. Even those will come off with a little effort in the sink if you want to re-use the bottle, but the reusable labels come off sometimes just on their own, and that’s bad. But you can certainly use anything you like.
Where do I get the bottles?
There are numerous online companies selling them in bulk, and you can find almost anything on ebay these days. But Amazon carries most of them:
2 Oz containers w/Polycone Cap – pack of 12 – CLEAR:
2 Oz container w/Polycone Cap – Pack of 12 – AMBER:
2 Oz containers w/Polycone Cap – pack of 240 – CLEAR:
4 Oz containers w/Polycone Cap – pack of 12 – CLEAR:
4 Oz containers w/Polycone Cap – pack of 12 – AMBER:
1 Oz container w/Polycone Cap – Pack of 12 – CLEAR:
1 Oz container w/Polycone Cap – Pack of 12 – AMBER:
1 Oz container w/Polycone Cap – Pack of 120 – CLEAR:
I’m not feeling these Boston Round bottles. Too industrial. Is there anything else you recommend?
Sure! We like the “Little Nipper” 100ML (roughly 3.4 ounces) flasks:
And if you want larger storage, particularly for those into vatting or splitting bottles, these Bormioli Rocco glass flasks in 8.5 ounces are excellent (about 1/3 of a 750 ML bottle):
They’re also available in 17 ounces (about 2/3 a 750ML bottle):
Wanted to add that with amber glass bottles iron leaching is a concern. Best way to store would be in a clear soda lime glass and wrap in foil. Sorry for nerdy comment.
Do you have any source to back up this claim? First I’ve heard, and I don’t believe it.
Hey Bill, this is great. What’s your prep like for preserving the contents? I’m assuming there’s some level of bottle sanitization? Is there any concern about the whiskey becoming contaminated when transferring?
According to the seller, they just need to be washed in warm water and detergent, which is all I did.
I use a stainless steel Funnel
(made for a flask) that has been washed multiple times, and it keeps spillage to a minimum.
Ocassionally, I’ve used a liquor pour spout like this and skipped the flask altogether.
It’s easier to not over pour that way.
By the way- I updated this post to include a link to wax sealing the bottles for long term storage. Check it out!